By Shannon Flanagan – CPT
As I get older I realize how important it is to fuel your body properly. As a marathon runner, if I do not eat and recover properly my performance suffers greatly. For endurance sport athletes, we need the proper supplements to help with energy before, during, and after our workouts. Some products you may already know and love, while others may be on your list to try. It’s a game of trial and error to see which fueling routine works best for you. I suggest trying out one new product at a time. In case something doesn’t work well, you will know what to cut out.
The focus is not only on what you should be eating or drinking, but on when. If you’re even remotely serious about performing at your best, you’ll need to fuel well before, during, and after your long-winded workouts.
Many people are trying to go vegan, gluten free, or both. There’s something about eating plants that just makes you feel cleaner, lighter with pep to your step. A new brand called Vega (can be found at Whole Foods) uses hemp and other plants to create their products. Vega Chocolate protein powder does not have any added sugar and will satisfy chocolate cravings and easily change how you energize for the day. I tried this at an expo not too long ago and it has a really good, natural taste. Remember, it is an all-natural product, so the flavor isn’t as sweet as the sucralose or sugar added protein beverages.
Pure caffeine supplements are proving to be a good and a more natural pre-workout boost for endurance athletes. In addition to the numerous health benefits of caffeine and there are a convenient capsules which some find “much easier than drinking coffee!” I like drinking coffee, but if I am supposed to go on a long run, I do not want to have to run to the bathroom every 20 minutes.
During your Workout
Caffeine is also making its way into on-course gels and chews. If you missed your morning dose, it’s not too late to get that extra boost with GU gels. They now carry caffeine filled GU and it is at the top the list for athlete’s endurance training and racing days.
Some athletes prefer something with a little more chew. If you go in to any running store they will have Honey Stinger waffles and vitamin C chews. I like the vanilla wafers. I feel they are light enough for my sensitive stomach.
As your training or racing you are losing nutrients. You must replenish the electrolytes your body is sweating out. I use Ultima Replenish. You can get your electrolytes of choice at any running store, Whole Foods, and even online. They come in tons of different flavors and are sweetened with stevia instead of added sugar.
Fatigue happens and your muscles need protein and amino acids to repair, so you can get up the next morning and do it all over again. Unlike traditional protein powders with unpronounceable ingredients, Vega Sports Protein offers 25 grams of alkaline-forming protein without dairy, gluten, soy or artificial anything. If you want to create and mix your own protein powder go to truenutrition.com and create away. You can mix any kind of protein with vitamins, glutamine, and more.
Also make sure you get your BCAA amino acids to repair the muscle damage done during your high impact activity. I use Biotrust Amino acids in capsule form. I feel like my muscles recover faster and I do not get as sore or achy.
Good luck with your endurance challenges. Make sure you fuel your body properly to help you be the best you can be.