Spring time is upon us meaning for many of us winter hibernators it is time to jump back into some consistent training and even consider entering an event (or 5) over the coming summer. Here are some pointers to get the most out of your training and nutrition.
Start slow. If you rocket into 15-hour training weeks’ odds are you are unlikely to be able to maintain this. Slowly build up your session durations, intensities and frequencies to avoid injury and fatigue. Starting from scratch? Begin with 2-3 easy sessions per week up to one hour in length. Progress weekly by adding 1 more session or increase your session times by 10-30 minutes depending on type of exercise. Interval or high intensity training can be a great way to find fitness but do be aware of the stress load on your body and if in doubt there are some fantastic coaches and trainers out there to guide you.
Exercising and weight gain. This topic comes up again and again as clients are baffled by “weight gain” when they start training again. This can be put down to a number of theories. Muscle technically weighs more than fat, so as you adapt to your training and gain muscle the scales may very well reflect this. With fitness comes efficiency in many areas including utilising food as fuel, so when you begin training you may require more fuel for the amount of exercise. This leads on to the point that many feel hungrier when beginning a training programme which naturally leads to eating more. Thankfully as time and training go out the weight gain tends to take care of itself and with smart nutrition plans in place, body composition goals are well within reach.
Fuel correctly. You only get out what you put in so good nutrition should be a high priority during your “base” phase of training. This means adequately hydrating, fuelling and refuelling to maximise the speed of fitness gains. Avoid dehydration by ingraining the habit of drinking plenty of water each day (approximately 1.5 litres). Water is suitable for sessions under 1 hour, for intense or longer sessions your chosen fluid should include electrolytes and carbohydrate to help fuel muscles and prevent fatigue. For lighter training your sports drink may provide enough carbohydrates for energy, for example PURE Electrolyte Hydration provides 38g of carbs per bottle (750ml) making it a solid choice for the lower end of recommended carbohydrates per hour. As intensity and duration increase you will need to add additional foods or supplements into your training nutrition plan.
Recover. This is one on the most important parts of training and often overlooked. Use the first 30 minutes after your session as a window of opportunity to get high quality protein and carbohydrates on board to replenish muscle stores and maximise training gains. Add into the mix some quality sleep and before you know it your fitness will be fast tracked ready for race day.
Marewa Sutherland is a qualified Sports & Exercise Nutritionist (BAppSc, Otago University) and co-founder of PURE Sports Nutrition.