Why is nutrition so important for endurance athletes?

Have you ever entered a race and turned up on the day having not done any training and expected to race well? Of course you haven’t ! You might have a coach. You will have put in the hours training in your chosen discipline as well as paying attention to strength, conditioning and stretching. By doing all this preparation you hope that your body will be strong and your muscles will be ready. Hopefully, everything will come together on race day enabling you to perform your very best so that you get the results you are aiming for.

Despite investing all this time and effort in training, I still see endurance athletes who only think about their nutrition just before their race and hope that a couple of gels, an energy drink along with the odd banana will give them everything they need to cross the finish line. So often due to poor nutrition, endurance athletes are disappointed by their results.

As a Sports Nutritionist, I look at the whole picture and I want to make sure you do too. Successful athletes pay attention to their daily nutrition as well as their training and racing nutrition. You get the best results on race day by paying attention to your daily nutrition, race nutrition is simply the icing on the cake!

Your daily nutrition determines how much protein your body has available to rebuild muscles damaged by training, to make hormones and antibodies to keep you healthy. What you eat daily determines how much energy you have available for your endurance training as well as your racing. Your food supplies the vitamins and minerals your body needs to build a strong skeleton, maintain healthy nerves, make rich blood and protect your body from free radical damage.

Put simply, your daily nutrition enables you to get the best from your training…it helps you train better, go for longer and recover faster. You should train to eat NOT eat to train.

Throughout the year, you need to modify your nutrition to support your body’s energy needs according to the volume and intensity of training you are doing. As you move through your training year, your nutrition requirements will change and the goals will be different.

Nutrition can be used to:

  • Manipulate body weight and composition (usually in the off season)
  • Improve blood sugar and insulin control which helps maintain energy levels and body fat storage
  • Improve metabolic efficiency so that you are burning mostly fat at lower intensities and carbohydrate at higher intensities
  •  Support immune health
  •  Optimise supplement use so that they are only used when they are needed at higher volume/intensity training and not all year round.

Here’s what one of my clients, Giles, said recently after working with me:

“The main benefit however has been following a nutrition plan to support my ironman training. I have consistently had more energy with far fewer mid afternoon dips and much improved recovery after some long and arduous training sessions. This, like my early season running results, has seen a step change in my performances. From age group results in the top 10% I have already had two podium finishes in Olympic to Half ironman as well as qualification at the Tour of Cambridgeshire for the World Gran Fondo in August 2017. I am confident of more to come this season and going forward!

Working with Dawn has easily been my best investment in my triathlon experience to date. Having bought lighter or more aero kit over recent years as many of us do I have seen a much more significant return from working with Dawn. She has equipped me with a good general understanding of the key elements of nutrition which I now feel confident to apply both this season and going forward. I also have a great mentor for reference with any future nutritional challenges. Thank you Dawn”

Hopefully you now understand that your nutrition is just as important as your training. It can be technical and it’s a lot for most athletes to fit in with everything else they are trying to juggle in their lives.

Let me do the hard work to help you get your nutrition sorted. Contact me dawn@thecompeater.com so we can discuss how we can make your next race season your best ever.

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