1. CARB LOADING – FILL YOUR TANK!
Carbs are stored preferentially in the body as Glycogen. The issue is we only have a limited storage capacity which equates to 300-400g in our muscles, 80-120g in the Liver and small amounts in the blood (20-25g). The amount of glycogen in our bodies has a significant impact on performance especially in events >60 mins. Ensure you optimise your storage capacity to its full effect. How? 2 options, the 3 day carb loading protocol where you would consume loads of carbs for 3 consecutive days alternatively consumption of high GI carbs over 24 hrs has shown similar levels of glycogen can be attained, aim for 6-10g/kg. Your chance to enjoy a pudding or two!
2. KEEP THE LEVELS OF CARBOHYDRATE TOPPED UP.
Glycogen stores are depleted around 60-75 mins if no carbohydrate intake takes place. This can be limiting to exercise performance especially if you are looking to breakaway during a marathon or you try sprint finish. You need to ensure you are topping up those levels as you exercise 1g/min should be sufficient. You can use either, gels, bars or drinks whatever your preference.
3. TRAIN LOW AND COMPETE HIGH
As your training is periodised towards a certain event or season you need to do the same with your nutrition plan. You know the concept of training in altitude and living low improves your endurance performance due to the increase in production of red bloods cells as your body has to get used to not receiving as much oxygen? The same approach can be adopted nutritionally. On occasion train with low levels of carbohydrates in the system and little intake during your training, this will optimise your biochemical response to exercise and ensure come race day you are firing on all cylinders. Note your training times will drop as a consequence and you may feel rubbish. Ensure you train high as well so that your gut and muscles learn to metabolise high doses of carbohydrates that are ingested during race day.
4. CARNITINE THE FAT OXIDATION REGULATOR
Carnitine is one of the master regulators of lipid oxidation as it is responsible for transporting long chain fatty acids into the mitochondria. As mentioned earlier you only have a limited store of carbohydrates so you want to ensure the body is predominantly running off fats in order to spare glycogen for those all-out efforts. You do have the ability to increase the content of carnitine in your body by supplementing with it. Note this will take 3-6 months so plan appropriately. To add to this in order to effectively drive carnitine into the cells you need to spike your insulin levels with the consumption of carbs (perfect for post-workout nutrition) and not an issues if your training volume is high but I advise caution if you are looking to shift some timber.
5. STORM IN A COFFEE CUP…PASS ME THE CAFFEINE
Caffeine is a known stimulant and has been shown to improve sports performance in many different scenarios, from sprint to endurance. Particularly when glycogen levels are low, it'll give you an extra push so you can train harder for longer. The key is finding out what works for you, body weight and individual tolerance both impact how much caffeine you should have. Start with one serving of TrueStart Coffee 30 minutes before exercise and up the dose if you need to.