It’s endurance event time of year!
There’ve been a number of ultra endurance and endurance events already this year, with a number of half Ironman and Ironman distance triathlons, marathons, bush runs, endurance mountain bike and road cycling events still to come over the next few months.
If you’re planning to compete in any of these events it’s crucial that you have already started to think about how to hydrate and fuel before, during and after training and racing. Strategies will vary depending on where and what your event is. But thinking about this 1-2 weeks out from your event is too late.
DO NOT LEAVE THIS TO THE LAST MINUTE. Don’t waste all of your hard training through being unprepared nutritionally.
Your long training sessions are the perfect time to test different nutrition strategies and options. It’s about testing pre event meals, testing race fueling and hydration and proper recovery meals.
So where do you start?
1. Recover properly after every training session.
When training once a day you have a window of 2 hours to get maximum benefit from your recovery meal. This can be made up of several meals if needed – for example, breakfast and morning tea. If you’re training 2 or more times a day the speed that you get this recovery meal in becomes more important. The recovery meal should be consumed within 30min of finishing training.
For those training once a day, I would suggest that you start sooner than 2 hours or you may find you just get too hungry to make the most useful food choice. Your recovery meal should include carbohydrate to restock glycogen stores in your muscles, and protein for muscle repair. This can be in the form of food or a liquid. Sometimes liquids are easier to get down and if you are away from home a good quality, natural powdered recovery drink mixed on water may be a more practical option.
2. Work out how much fluid you need to drink
Know your sweat rate. Do some body weight measures pre and post training session to get an idea of what your fluid losses are when exercising. Do this in as many different weather conditions as possible. Weight lost is fluid lost. The aim is to replace at least 80% of your fluid losses while exercising. The remainder can be consumed in recovery.
Knowing your sweat rate allows you to calculate what you should be drinking each hour you are exercising to prevent dehydration.
It also allows you to plan where you will refill water bottles in your event and/or pick up bottles.
3. What foods and drinks to use in your event?
Check what is available at your event.
A list of things to consider
- What drinks, foods, gels etc, will be available at each aid station?
- How much food and drink do you need to meet your carbohydrate needs?
- How far apart are aid stations?
- How often do you need to refill bottles/hydration packs?
- Do you like the taste of the drinks and foods on the aid stations?
- Do you know the carbohydrate content of the foods, sodium content? Know what is in the products you are using.
- Do you like the taste of these products?
- Are you prepared to train with these products?
- If you don’t like them what are your other options?
4. Practice, Practice, Practice….and be flexible.
Practice your drinking and eating strategy several weeks out from the event. Modify if you need to…..and practice it again. Be prepared to be flexible where necessary. If you need to back off the eating and drinking due to gastrointestinal distress then do. Be prepared to back off the pace as well if you are in this situation.
Contact an Accredited Sports Dietitian for a more personalised nutrition plan.
Rebecca Hay, Accredited Sports Dietitian