How well you perform will be a direct result of how well you fuel and hydrate your body. This begins with the day before a hard workout. If you are not properly fueled (well-nourished and hydrated), you are beginning your workout depleted. You may not perform as well and risk the chance of cramping, feeling sluggish, and not completing your workout. Here are some training tips to improve your endurance.
Blood glucose is a very important fuel source during endurance events, working in tandem with muscle glycogen at all points during the event and eventually taking over as the main carbohydrate supply. Your pre-run meal primes the system so that blood glucose does not drop before the start and early on in the event. Skipping this pre-race meal depletes liver glycogen stores even further and can hurt the runner’s performance during the event, which relies heavily on blood glucose.
The early meal should be mainly carbohydrate as it is digested most rapidly, and can include small amounts of protein. Limit or avoid fat which take the longest to digest. While fiber is healthy to consume on a daily basis, limit it before a race or long run as it can cause bloating and gastrointestinal upset. Bagels or toast with almond butter are popular choices as well as cooked oatmeal, yogurt and a banana.
You want to get up early enough so your body can digest this food with plenty of time to hit the bathroom before you head out to run/race.
The key to the pre-race meal is practice. The number one rule is: don’t do anything new on race morning! Consume the exact same thing race morning that you practiced with and tolerated in training. You may want to pack favorite foods, and research food availability ahead if traveling to a race.
During your training session, you will want to take in 30-60 grams of carbs per hour for exercise lasting 1-2 hours, or 45-90 grams of carbs per hour for exercise over 2 hours to help delay fatigue and improve performance.
This is not the time to try a diet low in carbs.
Hydration should begin 24 hours before your event or training. Hydrating the day before preps your body for the demands you are going to place on it. If you are already dehydrated, it’s hard to “catch up”.
During your training session, you should drink at least 13-26 oz of water each hour. If your workouts are 90 minutes or more, you may need additional water or an electrolyte supplement.
Your body will be craving electrolytes because you are losing sodium as you exercise and sweat (if it's hot, you will sweat even more). There are many products on the market to help with electrolyte intake. Base salts and Enduralytes are the most popular brand and contain sodium, magnesium and potassium as well. You can also try a sports drink (low in sugar) and high in electrolytes to combat your sodium losses. There are many types on the market. You need to try to see what works well for your digestive system.
If you are taking medications, be aware of the dehydrating agents in them.
You can also over hydrate by consuming too much water/sports drinks. This can lead to hyponatremia which can have serious health consequences.
A good rule of thumb to see if you are hydrated enough is your urine color: Lemonade color = well hydrated; apple juice color = you need to drink more
Always watch your alcohol intake.
Some athletes who cannot remember to eat or drink while training set an alarm on their watches for every 20 minutes to remind them to fuel up.