In any situation, when you are pushing yourself to your physical and psychological limit, it is extremely important to stay fueled and to replenish. This is especially true when you are enduring a physical activity. Whether you are swimming your longest race, biking across town or running a marathon, it is imperative to recognize your nutrition intake. Nutrition is vital for all athletes and here's why:
Athletes competing in strenuous activities are forced to run off of the nutrients readily available in their body during the time of the event. These nutrients fuel the body's energy level, ultimately affecting an athlete's performance. For this reason, the meal on the morning of a big race is an essential key in your nutritional success. It is generally suggested that an athlete consume their "pre-race meal" three hours prior to the start of the event. Meals leading up to a race should typically consist of a combination of protein and carbohydrates in order to prepare your body with the appropriate fuel levels. Some prefer to drink their carbohydrates in the form of a liquid blend, while others prefer to eat a banana and toast.
Although your pre-race meal will aid you in the beginning of your race, it is equally important to replenish those nutrients throughout a long event. Thankfully, there is a wide array of convenient and efficient snacks that can be brought along during a race. Depending on your digestion, you can choose between energy gels, energy drinks and energy bars, all of which can be slipped into a hydration belt or pocket. These gels, drinks and energy bars are designed to top off your electrolytes, sodium and glucose levels, which in turn give you that boost of energy you need to cross the finish line.
Following a big race, it is absolutely necessary to replenish your nutrients so your body can work to repair your muscles. A high-protein, high-carb drink will help you replenish within thirty minutes of your race. In drinking your calories, as opposed to eating them, your digestive system will not have to work as hard to deliver those nutrients to your body. The quicker your body can restore and rebuild, the easier the recovery will be for you.
Just as an athlete must train leading up to a big race, an athlete must also fuel and nourish their bodies. If you are going to push yourself to your physical limit and exert your muscles, than have to take the proper precautions. Fueling up pre-race and replenishing post-race is an essential factor in a performance. If you are going to go the extra mile, go the distance in nutrition.