As a runner, cyclist or triathlete, do you know that physiological adaptations from endurance training happen during the recovery period rather than during the training itself? The purpose of training is to create the stimulus for those adaptations to occur, eg by stressing the aerobic system or muscles. Your body then makes the appropriate physiological and bio-chemical adaptations while at rest, eg increasing the number of mitochondria in muscle cells where energy is produced or synthesising proteins to create additional muscle tissue. Continue reading
If you have already done an iron-distance triathlon, you will know the impact that getting your nutrition right or wrong can have on your race. It is thought that between 30-50% of long distance triathletes experience gastro-intestinal problems while racing. Issues can include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, flatulence and abdominal discomfort. That’s a lot of unpleasant race day experiences. So, if you are new to Iron-distance triathlon, it’s important to take the time to develop a nutritional plan well before race day and to use your long bike and run training to practise it.
Are you a triathlete, runner or cyclist who has chosen a race this year where you are likely to be competing in temperatures significantly higher than those you are used to and for at least three hours or considerably longer? Examples might include the Ironman™ World Championships in Kona, the Marathon Des Sables, or any half or full iron distance triathlon, marathon, ultramarathon or endurance cycle event that usually takes place in temperatures over 30⁰C. If so, this blog is for you. Continue reading
As a passionate endurance athlete, you’ll be looking to continue to participate in your chosen sport – be that triathlon, cycling, running or perhaps adventure racing – for many years to come and to remain as competitive as possible. It’s worth noting that in the past 30 years, increased participation in events lasting 6 hours or more by masters athletes (those over 40) has been accompanied by improvements in their performances at a much faster rate than their younger counterparts.¹ But decline in physical function to some extent is sadly inevitable as you increase in age, so putting in place strategies to minimise those declines before they take significant effect is fundamental to giving yourself every chance to continue doing the sport you love and performing to the best of your ability.
For my last blog post of 2017 – or the first of 2018, depending on when you are reading this – I thought I would draw up a short list of suggested New Year’s Resolutions for endurance sports participants to help you improve your diet and nutritional practices in 2018, with a subsequent benefit to performance. I’ve kept the list deliberately short and hopefully manageable: Continue reading
In January 2016, I wrote a blog post about the potential benefits of doing occasional training sessions in a glycogen depleted state, in other words with low carbohydrate stores. Various research studies have shown that this has benefits for endurance training, specifically in upregulating the process that creates mitochondria, the “batteries” of the muscle cell which burn fuel for energy. The more mitochondria you have in each muscle cell, the better for performance in endurance events. Training with low glycogen has also been shown to increase fat oxidation, your body’s ability to burn fat as fuel. This is thought to have benefits for endurance performance by sparing the limited glycogen stores available in the muscle. The longer you can use fat as your primary energy source, the longer you can make your carbohydrate stores last. You can find my earlier blog post here for more detailed information on how training with low glycogen stores at certain times may be beneficial. Continue reading
Everyone participating in endurance sport, however much they love it, needs a period of rest away from training and competing. A chance to recharge your batteries, to spend more time with family and friends – who may be feeling somewhat neglected – and to give your body the opportunity to recover from the physical and physiological stress that you’ve placed it under for the previous months. Continue reading
As a nutritionist who specialises in working with triathletes, cyclists and runners to improve their endurance sports performance, while at the same time needing to ensure that they remain in good health, I spend a lot of time discussing carbohydrate intake. Traditionally, a high carb diet has been seen as the obvious choice for endurance athletes, given that carbohydrate provides the main source of energy when training hard or racing. But recent years have seen the emergence of the alternative low carb high fat (LCHF) or ketogenic diet, which seems to improve the body’s ability to use fat as fuel at higher intensities, reducing the need for carbohydrate. This approach has been gaining popularity in the endurance sports community, particularly among those involved in longer distance events such as ultra-marathons or Ironman, where taking on large amounts of carbohydrate may cause gastrointestinal distress or be impractical. Continue reading
The topic of gut health seems to have hit in the mainstream in the last couple of years, with media articles urging you to support the bacterial population that live in your digestive tract by consuming yogurt, sauerkraut and sourdough bread or drinking bone broth to prevent ‘leaky gut’. You might have wondered if this has any relevance to you as an endurance athlete. The answer is yes. Continue reading
If social media is anything to go by, it often seems like there are two opposing schools of thought in sports nutrition at the moment. In one camp are those who believe that ‘carbohydrate is king’, basing their daily diet around regular intake of starchy carbohydrates like pasta, bread, crackers, rice, potato, oats and other grains, supplemented with plenty of fruit (and hopefully vegetables too) and perhaps some carefully chosen sources of sugar like dried fruit, honey and maple syrup. In addition, they might regularly fuel their workouts with energy bars, sports drinks and gels, not to speak of carefully consuming a carbohydrate and protein drink after training to aid their recovery. There is certainly plenty of research to back up that traditional approach to endurance sports nutrition and plenty of athletes out there, recreational and professional, who vouch for its effectiveness in terms of performance and recovery. Continue reading