There’s an equation that I love referring to when I think of endurance nutrition and performance.
QT x PA = IP
where QT = Quality training sessions, PA = Physiological adaptations and IP = Improved Performance
At its core, the purpose of training is to stimulate physiological adaptations in your body, such as developing muscle mass, increasing pulmonary capacity, improving blood flow, developing resistance, etc. These adaptations allow your body to be more efficient, faster and stronger, which translates into better performance and results.
This means that targeting your endurance nutrition into completing quality training sessions and promoting your body’s training adaptations will bring more benefit to your performance in the long term.
Fuelling quality training sessions
I don’t know about you, but my ideal training session looks something like this: Even before the warm-up, my body feels ready to get going, I’m able to meet the targets for each of the sets, and even though they don’t feel easy, I’m able to stay consistent throughout the session. Then, when I’m done with the cool-down, I’m ready to go home, enjoy a nice shower and get on with my day.
Whereas on the opposite side, my worst training sessions had looked something like this: I felt sluggish during the warm-up, I even needed the first set to get into the pace required, and by the time I was on the second last set, I was already struggling and have dropped the pace significantly, the cool-down feels more like dragging my body to the car and by the time I get home I’m only looking forward to being on the couch.
The main difference between one session and the other is that my body was well-recovered and energised in the first one. Whereas in the second, I didn’t have enough energy, and my body was not fully recovered.
You must ensure your body is well-nourished and energised to get quality training sessions. This is not something that drinking a Red Bull thirty minutes before warm-up will fix.
What you eat before, during and after your training session directly impacts the quality of that training session. Not all sessions have the same objective. Therefore you should not fuel all sessions the same way. Download my free fuelling guide with specific endurance nutrition recommendations for different training sessions.
Promoting the training adaptations
Above else, your body prioritises survival. This means that the body uses the energy you consume for core functions and uses whatever is left for non-essential activities such as your daily run or your time at work.
When the energy is insufficient, your body tries to spare as much as possible for essential functions and finds ways to save energy from the non-essential ones. Have you ever felt unable to concentrate at work, sleepy, or unwilling to train at all? These are examples of your body’s attempts at saving energy.
A well-nourished and energised body is a body that is consistently fuelled throughout the day, receives vital nutrients when they are needed the most and has all essential nutrients available to thrive.
When the energy is sufficient, and all the essential nutrients are present in your diet, your body can target non-essential functions, such as promoting the training adaptations that allow your body to become more efficient, faster and stronger.
As you can see, what you eat on race day is very important for that day to be successful. However, you are leaving a lot on the table by not looking at your sports nutrition months ahead of your main event. What you do day by day, week by week, will give you the most significant advantage.