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Four nutrition tips for the amateur athlete

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  • Stay hydrated

Dehydration can be a cause of fatigue. Help yourself out by making sure you have the following in check:

  1. Ensure that in the days leading up to the relay you are getting in enough fluid. You can gauge this by making sure you are passing pale yellow coloured urine.
  2. On the day have plenty of fluid available. If you are doing <90mins of continuous running then water should be sufficient to keep you hydrated, and your own bodies stores will keep you fuelled. If you are doing a long leg then sports drinks can help replace those carbohydrates during the race as well as rehydrate.
  • Fuel yourself properly before and after

Carbohydrates are your preferred fuel during exercise. Make sure your muscle and liver reserves are full by having a carbohydrate-rich meal the night before, a good breakfast, and proper meals/snacks during the day if your leg is later.

Post-race it is a good idea to try and get in a mixture of protein and high GI carbohydrate to replenish stores and repair muscles. Aim to get this in around 30mins after you finish.  If it is near a mealtime just eat your normal meal, otherwise try yoghurt and fruit, tuna and crackers, flavoured milk or a smoothie.

  • Timing and types of meals make a difference

Timing of meals is important. Aim for a balanced meal 3-4 hours prior to your leg and a small snack 1-2 hours before, if you need it. This gives your body some ready to go energy, but also time to digest some of the food so that it sits better in your tummy.

Make the main meal complete with wholegrain carbohydrate, protein and veg/fruit. Good ideas are a wrap/sandwich with protein and salad, chicken and vegie pasta salad, beef stir fry with rice, or bircher muesli, yoghurt and fruit.

The snack should be lighter on the digestive track but still have some carbohydrate and protein – try peanut butter or hummus on rice crackers, yoghurt and a little bit of muesli/oats or yoghurt with fruit salad. If you have trouble with food pre-race, try smoothies, flavoured milk, or other more liquid based items.

If you are doing multiple legs with minimal time between them, then smaller snacks more often may a better option. Try muesli bars, yoghurts, fruit, nut mix, crackers and cheese, or plain sandwiches.

  • Try out your food prior to the big day

Everyone has a digestive system that is a little different; some people have no problems with full meals and snacks prior to an event, others may find it makes them sluggish or have them running to the bathroom.

If you are new to an event like the Taranaki Around the Mountain Relay, try some test meals and drinks during your training runs to make sure that you know what to expect on the day.

Article by Sarah Tuki Nutrition