Introducing nutritional tricks that will boost your energy and speed your recovery...
1. Breakfast before morning swims:
Sleeping overnight depletes the liver's store of glycogen. Liver glycogen is the major store of carbohydrate to regulate blood sugar. When this is depleted your blood sugar starts to drop and fatigue sets in. This won't help concentration, and if you are trying to improve your technique you will struggle. Look for foods high in carbohydrate, low in protein and low in fat. Don’t compromise your sleep so choose foods you can eat on the go such as jam sandwiches, flapjacks or sports bars.
2. Protein after runs:
Running is one of the most stressful forms of exercise you can undertake. It produces signals which tell your body to start breaking itself down and causes large amounts of muscle damage. Running is quite often the discipline of triathlon training which leads to injury. A simple nutritional strategy to counteract the negative signals produced by running is to have a good source of protein straight after the training session. If you are just going out for a plod have a yogurt when you get in, if it is a longer run or quality session have a milkshake or carbohydrate protein recovery drink
3. Fish Oils:
When we lived in caves and hunted for our food we ate the healthy fats omega 3 and omega 6 in a ratio of approximately 2:1. These days it is around 1:20, the consequences of which are a form of inflammation which the body finds difficult to cope with. For a triathlete in hard training this will mean slow recovery and increased fatigue. Simply taking a fish oil supplement or making sure you get a good source of oily fish 3-4 times per week can get our bodies back to how they should be.
4. Swill a carbohydrate gel during run intervals:
There are carbohydrate sensors in the mouth which stimulate the brain into working harder. Using a carbohydrate mouth rinse can increase 40 km cycling time trial time by over a minute. However, possibly the biggest benefit can come while you are training. Consuming sports drinks and gels during hard training sessions, particularly run sessions that can be uncomfortable. Just swilling the gel around your mouth will help you maintain the training intensity.
5. Start drinking early on the bike:
The timing of fluid and fuel intake on the bike leg of an Olympic distance race can affect run performance. A recent study compared drinking at 8, 16, 24 and 32 km into the bike with drinking at 10, 20, 30 and 40 km. When subjects started drinking early they ran the 10 km 3% faster than when they started drinking later in the bike.
The Serious Triathlon Blog
Train Smart. Race Fast.
Phil Mosley is a triathlon coach and writer.