Essentially endurance is your bodies ability to withstand and continue physical activity over a long period of time. How do we get better at this? The combination of training, recovery and nutrition all play important parts. Our co-founder and Sports Nutritionist Marewa shares some pointers on how nutrition can help you increase endurance to get the most out of your upcoming race(s).
Endurance exercise is demanding on the body and requires a bloody good base diet to help A. provide the energy for training and B. help recover from training (this is the part where you get fitter, faster and stronger).
- Don't commit to any diets that you can't safely continue permanently. This means if it's not achievable long-term or is a "quick fix" it is unlikely it is healthy and could, in fact, be detrimental to health and training.
- Aim for upwards of 5+ a day (fruits and vegs) to increase nutrients in the diet. A simple way to amp up your intake is to include fruits and veg into every meal and even snacks. Quick tips: Blend into smoothies, cook up double amounts and ensure you always have frozen options on hand. One serve of PURE blackcurrant Recovery has over 30 NZ blackcurrants (freeze dried to maintain nutrient profile).
- Include protein into every meal (and most snacks). This will not only help with ongoing recovery but also set you up to feel fuller for longer so you're less likely to overindulge in the wrong foods. Suggestions include milk, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds, legume pasta, PURE Exercise Recovery and PURE Whey Protein Concentrate.
- Carbs are your friends. Depending on your training load you probably need more carbs than you think to help fuel training and to recover. Aim for wholegrain and vegetable options to help increase the nutrients and fibre in your diet. Suggestions include sweet potato, potato, brown rice and wholegrain pasta.
The average sized person (training regularly) should generally aim for 2L plus of water per day (this doesn't include training fluids). Get to know how much this is by measuring out the usual glass or bottle you drink from and work out how many refills you need each day. Then record what you actually drink to see if you're meeting daily targets. I always recommend breaking down your daily aim into manageable targets i.e. 500ml before morning tea, 500ml between morning tea and lunch and so on. It only takes a week or two to form a new habit and hydration should be high on the habit priority list!
Water is fine for short sessions (less than 60mins). The exceptions being high-intensity sessions or those in hot and humid conditions, where in some situations a sports drink may be required. Endurance sessions over around the 90-minute mark require a sports drink to importantly help hydrate, provide carbs (muscle fuel) and also replace mineral salts lost in sweat to support muscle function. For sessions lasting for longer than 2 hours, I recommend switching PURE Electrolyte Hydration to PURE Endurance Formula which has added whey protein isolate. This is to assist working muscles over a prolonged exercise period of 2 hours or more. Begin drinking your choice of hydration from the start of your session and spread out your intake evenly over each hour. Depending on size, fitness level, weather conditions your needs will vary but generally around 500-900ml per hour.
Don't underestimate your fuel needs for endurance training. I genuinely believe that the longer a session goes on for the more important nutrition becomes, it can make or break a race day performance so is also a vital part of training. If your session is over 90 minutes your carb requirements can be anywhere between 30-90g per hour. This is a large range so how do you know where to aim? Use intensity and duration to choose your intake. Low-intensity sessions obviously don't need as much fuel as long or hard sessions. Remember if you are planning to consume towards 90g of carbs per hour in race day you are going to need to practice this thoroughly in training. Anywhere above 60g per hour and your carbs will need to come from a mixture of sources i.e. glucose and fructose. Use your long sessions as a dress rehearsal for race day to figure out a nutrition combination that works for you.
Add in protein and a small amount of fat in sessions lasting longer than 2 hours. This provides another fuel source and helps keep hunger at bay. Real food can be a good option here. Savoury options are also a great way to get in extra salt and protein. Easy ideas include cheese rolls, rice balls, hash browns or a piece of good old bacon and egg pie. Lastly, if you are planning to use PURE Beet Endurance on the days leading up to race day (article: Beetroot in Sport) then be sure to do a test run in training to make sure it slots nicely into your nutrition plan.