Energy

Get the most out of your training with our sports nutrition guide and recovery tips.

Nutrition

In order to keep up the pace the body must be supplied with the right amount of fluid and nutrients during a competition. A balanced and healthy diet will give you a good foundation, along with a targeted sports nutrition strategy.
 
High exercise intensity or nervousness can reduce the body’s tolerance of food and drink. You need to work out yourself 'which product' at 'which point of time' and in 'which amount' suits you best.
 
Don’t forget: try any new nutrition strategies in training first, especially as factors such as training intensity and duration play a crucial role in tolerances.

Carbohydrate-loading strategies

If you’re planning to compete in a race that will require your body’s muscle glycogen stores to be at their maximum, then carbohydrate loading might be right for you. 

In the week prior to your event consume a high-carbohydrate intake with a reduced training volume. This strategy helps you maximise your energy stores before the competition. This is between 8g and 10g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight.

High carbohydrate meals and snacks include:

  • Porridge with fruits
  • Banana smoothies
  • Breakfast cereal with low fat milk and banana
  • Creamed rice
  • Pasta with low-fat sauce
  • Bread/toast with jam or honey
  • Dried fruits

Glycogen is stored in the muscles together with water. So if you've effectively compensated your glycogen stores you'll naturally be a bit heavier because of the extra water you're carrying.

Remember: practice your carbohydrate loading regime before long training sessions. This will help you optimise the right types and quantities of foods and beverages you'll need to successfully carbo-load. It will also help you get a sense of the performance benefits you can expect as a result. 

Competition day

As a general rule, you should eat a light meal that is easy to digest with enough fluid 3 - 4 hours before running.
 
Choose high carbohydrate food such as pasta, rice, bread, cereals, potatoes, fruit and sweetened dairy products, and avoid foods that are hard to digest or high in fibre before sport. Wash down food with enough fluids, 5 - 7 ml per kilogram of body weight is general recommended.
 
Small carbohydrate-rich snacks together with fluid can be taken up to 1 hour before. If you tend to suffer from pre-competition jitters and/or don’t feel like eating, try liquid carbohydrate sources instead if you cannot face solid food.

Hydration

Dehydration means a lack of water in the body and is one of the main causes for fatigue when taking part in sports. In general, your physical and mental performance can be negatively influenced when more than 2-3% of the starting body weight is lost in fluid.

Remember to stay hydrated: before, during and after your session.

The longer the distance and the higher the temperature and humidity, the greater the need for fluids. Your individual fluid needs during an event depend on various factors, such as climate conditions, loss of sweat or running duration and intensity.
You should be aiming to consume 400-800ml in small amounts every hour that you're exercising - that's around 150ml every 15 minutes!

Recovery

After intense endurance training or competition recovery is key and helps to promote training related adaptation processes.
 
The body needs carbohydrates to fill up its glycogen stores. It also needs protein to repair the damaged muscle tissue and to build new muscle tissue as well as fluid and electrolytes (especially sodium) for efficient rehydration.
 
Directly after training, ideally before taking a shower, the body should be supplied with a combination of carbohydrates and protein.

Your trainer: Rhian Martin

Rhian Martin Fitness logo

Rhian Martin is an experienced Great Britain elite triathlete, a qualified personal trainer and Iron(wo)man. She carried the Torch at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Endurance trainer: Matt Wroe

Head and shoulders of endurance trainer Matt Wroe
Matt is a successful Ironman who has supported Scope by completing some of the toughest challenges going. Matt has taken on Mount Kilimanjaro and cycled the 859 miles from Alton Towers to Paris and back.
 
Matt is our endurance hero and the go-to-guy for all your endurance questions.
 
Follow @mattwroe on Twitter.