Nutrition For The Triathlon: Putting it into practice
By Fuel Triathlon
Nutrition is often seen as a complicated and confusing subject, but with a little knowledge this is an area of your training that can increase your performance and help keep your season injury free.
This article looks at the key stages in your training throughout the year and how nutrition can support the demands you place on your body.
Once a race season is over and the triathlete has wound down and recovered from intense racing and training they tend to look toward the build phase. This is where weaknesses found during the last season can be worked on and the focus is more towards building strength and power rather than muscular and physical endurance.
During this phase the triathlete may spend more time in the gym strengthening leg and chest muscles. This means the body will require more protein to assist recovery and development of muscle tissue. Try not to neglect your carbohydrate intake, as this will help you maintain your enthusiasm and focus whilst in the gym and also assist in your body's ability to absorb protein.
Using weights to increase your muscle size and power also puts extra stress on your joints. Along with your regular stretching routine look towards protecting your joints by using such products such as Glucosamine and adding extra essential fatty acids (such as fish oils) to your diet. As mentioned before oily fish will add extra protein as well as essential fatty acids.
This phase is also useful for focusing on technique, whether this is your stroke in the pool or your cycling position.
This stage will see the triathlete moving more towards building endurance and will mean longer hours on the bike and more road work.
Run: More work on your running endurance will mean a lot more pressures on your joints. Again, supplementing your diet with joint protecting products will help you avoid injury. And at this key stage of your season, even a small niggling injury can result in a season long problem. Recovering after each run should not only consist of your stretching routine, but also incorporate nutritional recovery. Remember the two-hour window after a session where you body is more effective. A Good recovery drink, such as REGO Total Recovery by SIS, will give you the carbohydrate and protein requirements and also contains micronutrients to help reduce muscle and joint soreness.
Bike: Long hours in the saddle are key to increasing your endurance. The sessions will be longer but not necessarily high in intensity. The aim here is to increase the length of time you are out on your bike. Intensity can come later.
Therefore from a nutritional perspective, look towards keeping hydrated and maintaining your energy. Depending on the length of your session, keep two bottles available. One with a carbohydrate rich drink and the other with water in it. This will provide good hydration during the first 60 minutes of training and then carbohydrate replacement thereafter. If you are training for half Ironman, Ironman or long distance triathlons then feeding whilst on the bike is key. This can take the form of energy bars (rich in carbohydrates and low in fats), which are convenient for eating whilst on the move. Building a feed plan into your early training means come race day you body will be used to feeding whilst training. Race day is not the best time to find out that your body rejects the energy food you have taken after two hours on the bike.
As with running, look to recovery as the most important part of your nutrition plan. Repairing you muscles after a long ride will mean you will recovery quickly and be ready for the next session. This helps you avoid the over training syndrome, where your energy levels cannot maintain your training demands and therefore each session becomes harder and harder with no noticeable gains.
Swim: The time spent in the pool during the prep phase will be mainly building your endurance with some sessions focusing solely on technique. Hydration is key. It is sometimes thought that you do not need to drink as much or look to hydration whilst swim training but this is a myth. You are exercising as hard as you would on the bike and so taking a bottle to poolside is advisable.
This phase can produce the hardest demands on your body with endurance being tested with increased intensity. For example more hill work on the bike or run and more distance in the pool. This is the phase where the two earlier phases are combined. Therefore your nutrition plan must be maintained.
Remember the three key areas – Carbohydrates, Protein and essential fats.
Look towards supplements to assist your nutritional requirements. Extra protein and certainly carbohydrate rich drinks are products that will assist your training and support your body's developments.
If you have any questions or require further information then visit Fuel Triathlon.
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