As a running coach, I am always amazed to see how many athletes down play their fueling. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that on one side of the coin, there is a general lack of knowledge and the other side of the coin, most people find it easier to just "wing it".
Let's face it... it takes time and a commitment to learn, a willingness to experiment and openness try new things. To top it all off, this has to somehow fit into our busy schedules when all we really want to do is run...
So in an effort to help my athletes learn how to put the right fuels into their body, in the ideal amounts and at the right time, I have come up with an exercise I called "Baseline Fueling".
Essentially, it's a basic worksheet that helps athletes plan out and prepare their fueling plans and provides a baseline from which they can then tweak and adjust as their training continues. I think it starts to really hit home once they lay out their fuel and actually see their calories laid out in-front of them. Suddenly they realize that the 2-3 gummy candies they
have been eating every hour doesn't add up to much and how they grossly underestimate the amount of fluids they consume.
In order for this worksheet to be truly beneficial ... athletes, of course, need to be committed. Not only do they need to "start" this exercise, but they need to come home after their training run or race and weigh in on how well it went, where they potentially went off course and/or what worked or simply didn't. The idea is to then make any necessary adjustments, write out a new plan for the following workout and give it another try until they have success.
P.A.C.E. BASELINE FUELING WORKSHEET
TOP UP PLAN:
SUMMARIZE YOUR FUEL:
WHERE TO START?
The following is an outline providing some very basic tips that will dramatically help improve your performance. This information can also be found online, in the Hammer Nutrition "The Endurance Athlete's Guide to Success" PDF.
1. Caloric Intake: 120-180 calories per hour *rare circumstances may require slightly more. Fuel with complex carbs and not simple sugars (such as sucrose and fructose). Complex carbs allow you to absorb more calories and use them for energy, opposed to simple sugars.
2. After 2hrs of training, your fuel should incorporate a mix of protein at a ratio of about 8:1 carbs:protein. (5-15% calories come from protein)
3. Hydration: keep fluid intake during exercise between 16 and 28
ounces per hour.
4. Electrolytes: Replenish, not replace. You lose up to 2 grams of sodium per hour, burn up to 900 calories hourly and sweat up to 2 liters an hour. Your body cannot replace fluids and nutrients at the same rate it depletes them. Replenish electrolytes with a balanced formula (not just salt) in amount appropriate for conditions. i.e. 2 endurolytes, 1-2 endurolytes extreme or 1-2 endurolytes Fizz per hour.
5. Pre-Exercise Fueling: Before workouts and races, consume 300-400 calories. Complete your meal 3 hours before you start exercise.
6. Top up plan: the goal is to keep your glycogen stores topped up from the time you eat breakfast to the time you start your run or race. If you're race is early, don't sacrifice sleep to eat. Instead consume a small amount of supplemental fuel, such as 1 hammer gel, about 5 minutes before starting.
7. Recovery: Replenish your body with carbohydrates and protein as soon as possible after each exercise session, ideally within the first 30-60 minutes. Be sure to include 30-60 grams of high quality complex carbs and aim for a 3:1 carb/protein ratio. Try Hammer Nutrition Recoverite.
Dialing in your fueling takes time. Every "body" is unique and we all require a slightly different approach. I hope the baseline worksheet will help motivate you make improvements or simply provide reassurance that what you're doing is working.
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