6 Key Factors for Endurance Training: Part 2 (Nutrition & Hydration)
Updated: Mar 2
A couple weeks ago I started a blog series sharing 6 key factors you want to consider when training as an endurance athlete. As a reminder...
These 6 key factors are:
I've already covered Part 1 here on Strength Training and Consistency. Today in Part 2, I will be covering nutrition and hydration.
This is probably one of the most challenging for many athletes - drinking enough fluids throughout the day. I hear so many times, "I don't like to drink that much water because I have to go to the bathroom all of the time." Well, I understand that, but the reality is that up to 60% of the human adult body is water. According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, the lungs are about 83% water, the skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are a watery 31%.
Not only that, but fatigue towards the end of a prolonged sporting event may result as much from dehydration as from fuel substrate depletion. Exercise performance is impaired when an individual is dehydrated by as little as 2% of their body weight. Losses in excess of 5% of body weight can decrease the capacity for work by about 30% (Armstrong et al. 1985; Craig and Cummings 1966; Maughan 1991; Sawka and Pandolf 1990).
So clearly, hydration plays a big part in not only the outcome of your race, but also the effectiveness of your workouts. If you go into workouts dehydrated, your workouts will not only feel harder, but it will stress the body in ways that are less beneficial to your training. However, if you go into a workout hydrated, the quality of the workout will be improved, as well as the effectiveness of the workout.
Yes, you may find yourself having to go to the bathroom a bit more initially, but eventually your body will utilize the extra water you are putting into it and your workouts and recovery will improve because of it. And really, does your employer count how many times you go to the bathroom in a day? Do your work reviews include "employee uses bathroom too often?"
Nutrition is another key factor. You know the quote, "You are what you eat." Well, although none of us wants to be described as a "sausage" or a "mashed potato," nutrition is important to performance as well as recovery, and all of the nutritional components - protein, carbs, and fats - are absolutely necessary.
Of course, there are many "ways to eat," so many fads, so many thoughts/opinions, but over and over, the professionals come back to the conclusion to eat a well-balance, full-of-variety diet. For peak performance and training, limit your intake of processed foods, eat more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and yes, even those dreaded carbs that are given such a bad reputation. They're important and necessary!
For anyone that struggles with their relationship with food, there is a great book on the market discussing daily nutrition called Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole. As athletes, the goal is to eat to train, not train to eat.
Ultimately, nutrition, just as training, should be on a different schedule depending on the hours/intensity of the sessions of your training. This does NOT mean you should eat differently each day, but, it does mean that your basic nutrition needs through the year will change.
For instance, if you are in “base training” and the focus is more on “strength training vs cardio”, you will benefit from higher proteins vs more carbs for repair and recovery. On the other hand, if you are in long cardio sessions, more carbs and fat will be of greater benefit.
Nutrition and hydration are topics that need more than just a short blog to cover, but we hope this is a great starting point for you. Our team at Tri Fitness is more than happy to provide more information by emailing us to schedule a free consult!