Whether you are a beginner, weekend warrior or pro, it is no secret that nutrition will play a major role in your enjoyment and performance in the Coast to Coast.
Trailblazer Nutrition is the official nutrition information provider for the Coast to Coast. Read on for nuggets of wisdom from their nutrition experts, past competitors and Coast to Coast enthusiasts.
This article identifies the 3 key pillars of endurance nutrition and teaches you how to utilise each one to ensure that your nutrition boosts your performance rather than hinders it.
Pillar One: Everyday Nutrition
Everyday nutrition is very important. You must supply your body with enough nutrients for it to perform its everyday tasks or you will fatigue, get sick, and risk long term injury and illness.
Eat a variety of nutritious foods
- Aim for 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
- Have lean protein at each meal.
- Balance this with unrefined carbohydrates such as wholegrain breads and cereals, rice, wholemeal pasta and potatoes.
- Have 2 serves of low fat dairy each day.
- Incorporate vegetarian protein into your meals.
TRAILBLAZER TIP: Follow the Athlete's Plate model: 1/3 veggies, 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbohydrates.
Ensure you eat high quality foods
- Avoid refined foods such as white breads and cereals, fizzy drinks and juice, baking, sweets and processed meats.
- Trim the fat from meat before it is cooked and drain fat as you are cooking it.
- Have fresh, unprocessed, unpackaged food as much as possible. Shop the perimeter of the supermarket.
Pillar Two: Exercise Specific Nutrition
Exercise specific nutrition is ensuring that you provide your body with the right amount, of the right fuel, at the right time, so that your body can thrive with the demands of exercise. By fueling correctly during training, you will optimise exercise performance and have better quality training sessions, so a good fuel plan is not just for event day.
During exercise, your body burns through your fluid and carbohydrate stores, which are relatively small. As these stores deplete, your performance is negatively affected.
Ensure you are well fuelled before training starts.
The amount and type of carbohydrate required is affected by individual requirements, exercise type and your goals. A personal plan is needed.
Fluid is lost in sweat and needs to be replaced. Drinking to thirst is the easiest and safest way to ensure adequate hydration.
Devising an individual hydration plan is necessary during longer training sessions to minimise the weight you carry, and to monitor carbohydrate intake if using a carbohydrate containing sports drink.
Your event day plan should be an extension of what you have been doing during training. Do not try anything that you have not already trialled.
Don’t worry about fluid for the initial 3km run - what you take with you, you need to carry out, and it won’t affect performance either positively or negatively.
See the Cycle leg as an opportunity to ensure that you are well set up for the mountain run.
Think about what combination of real food, gels, sports drink and water that you require to achieve this.
TRAILBLAZER TIP: It is highly improbably that reduced electrolyte levels are the cause of cramp6, and replacing them in fluid does not prevent cramping. The best prevention? Ensure you race at sensible intensity and that you are well fuelled.
Have some carbs in transition, but plan what you want - figure out in training whether you will want real food or gels.
Be organized with your support crew, tell them when you expect to arrive, and what options you want readily available.
Always have options, you never know what you are going to feel like, even the weather can change your appetite.
Trailblazer favourites are:
- creamed rice
- water/electrolyte/carbohydrate drinks
- salted warm potatoes
- baby food
- muesli bars
- hot drinks in a thermos (on a cold day)
- flat Coke.
Cool fluids are more appetising and can help lower core body temperature so teach your support crew on keeping your fluids cold.
TRAILBLAZER TIP: Get your support crew to lay out your options on a tarpaulin, this ensures that your supplies are easy to spot, your tired brain knows exactly what is yours and it keeps the food clean, dry and appetising.
Striking a balance between being well fuelled, safety and minimising weight is the key to success, so planning is paramount:
- Have a robust cup tied to your camel pack for drinking from streams (practice to ensure that you can keep it out tucked out of the way).
- Consider how much fluid you really need - with good stream access for the first half, you won’t need to carry as much as you think.
Finishing the run a little dehydrated is not the end of the world7. There is plenty of time to rehydrate overnight for the Two Day competitors and even those doing the Longest Day can rehydrate in the kayak.
Consider what cooking facilities are available, food storage and transport capabilities, and who will be preparing your food:
- Snack on carbs, protein and fluid immediately after you finish the run.
- Have a full meal soon after, once again, carbs, protein, and calories in general (don’t be shy of fat) are what you need.
Trailblazer dietitian Tom Shand converts your nutrient individual nutrient requirements into actual food quantities and meal ideas when you purchase a personalised multisport plan.
Take on some food during transition from bike to kayak while your hands are free.
Tape food to your kayak for easy access.
Try a hydration hose dangling in the river - practice this first!
Go for whole foods on this leg, you’ll get sick of gels so save them for the bike.
This leg is “hammer down” or survival - either way you will need fuel.
Know how much fluid and gels you will need, and have them clearly organised.
Gels are recommended over whole foods for ease of digestion, but have other options available in transition just in case.
For more practical nutritional and event advice for the Coast to Coast, get a Trailblazer Coast to Coast plan today. As well as the latest nutritional techniques, Trailblazer plans feature many more practical tips gleaned from the experience of past Coast to Coasters to help make your event more enjoyable.
Pillar Three: Recovery
A hard training session can set up the potential for a large training adaptation, but this adaptation will not take place unless we provide the right environment. We need to repair our muscles (they get damaged during exercise) and replenish our fuel stores. Studies have shown that we have a window where muscles suck up these fuels the fastest8, so refueling soon after exercise is important.
The types of nutrients are important8:
- Provide lean protein for muscle repair
- Provide carbohydrates to restock your muscles’ readily availably fuel sources
Also the amount of each nutrient is important, although this differs for each individual8. Striking the right balance with a personalised plan will prevent weight gain and optimise recovery.
Continue to include both protein and carbohydrates in all snacks and meals in the 24 hours after training for best results8.
Nutrition is an often overlooked part of preparing for endurance training, but it is an area where big fitness returns can be gained from just a small amount of extra effort. Don’t let all that time in training go to waste - ensure that you are in the best possible shape to make the most of your hard work, and that you provide your body a nutritious recovery environment.
For a personalised nutrition plan designed around your training programme and chosen event, visit www.trailblazernutrition.co.nz
- Loucks AB. Low energy availability in the marathon and other endurance sports. Sports Med. 2007;37(4-5):348-52.
- Burke LM, Loucks AB, Broad N. Energy and carbohydrate for training and recovery. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2006:24 (7): 675-685.
- Temesi J, Johnson NA, Raymond J, Burdon CA, O’Connor HT. Carbohydrate ingestion during endurance exercise improves performance in adults. J Nutr. 2011: 141: 890-897
- Coyle EF. Fluid and fuel intake during exercise. Journal of Sports Sciences: 2004 22 (1).
- Noakes T. Waterlogged: The serious problem of overhydration in endurance sports. 2010; pp 58. Champaign: Human Kinetics.
- Â Noakes T. Waterlogged: The serious problem of overhydration in endurance sports. 2010; pp 144-145. Champaign: Human Kinetics.
- Sharwood KA, Collins M, Goedecke JH et al. Weight changes, medical complications, and performance durng an ironman triathlon. Br. J Sports Med. 2004; 38, 718-724
- Beelen M, Burke LM, Gibala MJ, Van Loon LJC. Nutritional strategies to promote postexercise recovery. Journal of physical activity and health, 2010