Athletes should be concerned with more than just high-intensity workouts when training. Nutrition is equally as important for performance as incrementally increasing mileage before a race. After months of training, you wouldn’t want poor nutrition to prevent you from crossing the finish line. Here are some common mistakes that you could be making and how to correct them.
Carbohydrate fasting. Fats are an ideal fuel source for endurance performance. By eliminating carbohydrate consumption from the diet prior to a race, it allows the body to rely primarily on fats for energy production. If done improperly, reduced endurance, poor recovery times and injury is likely to occur. If giving this a try, once a month complete an aerobic workout without consuming carbohydrates during exercise. Once a week, complete a morning aerobic workout following an overnight carbohydrate fast or exercise twice in one day without consuming carbohydrates in between workouts.
Poor hydration planning. Dehydration during a race will negatively impact performance. It is important to know how much fluid you lose under various environmental conditions and compare it to how much liquid your body absorbs while exercising. To measure this, step on a digital scale and log your weight before and after a workout. Make note of any fluid intake and urine loss as well. For every pound lost, approximately one pint of fluid and two hundred to five hundred milligrams of sodium are lost. Post-workout weight should be within two to three percent of pre-workout weight.
Not training the gut. The digestive system is still at work during competition, though it is less active than usual. Without previous exposure to race-day conditions, you may find yourself experiencing more GI problems than you’re used to. To minimize this, train under race-like conditions—diet, pace, etc.—once a month before a key training session.
Shedding too much weight. Endurance exercise is easier when you’re lighter, however, excessive caloric restrictions can cause more harm than good. Avoid fasting on key training days and never allow weekly calorie deficits to exceed thirty-five hundred calories during a competitive season. Also, do not skip fuel intake before, during or after exercise unless it’s specifically for training purposes.
Keeping this information in mind can help make great strides in your performance. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are and we want to see you succeed.