Top 10 training tips for endurance events

top 10 training tipsThese top 10 training tips will be of great use to you for any endurance event you’re training for in the the next few weeks. It will be especially useful if you’re tackling long endurance challenges like ultra trail runs, multi-day mountain bike, road cycling, and paddling events.

If you’re at this level, you should already have our taper programme, but it never hurts to have a few tried and tested tips in the last few weeks before the big day.

You’ve done all that training. Enjoy the full benefit of your fitness gains with good self-management in the last few weeks and days. Put these principles into action, rehearse them in your mind and you’ll be more likely to have a successful Big Day.

My top 10 training tips are in no particular order but have been proven time and time again to be vital and most effective for best results.

  1. Do the Distance
    If you are riding the Epic, know what it feels like to ride 100km off-road in a day and get back on your bike again the next day. If you are competing in Ironman, know what it feels like to ride 160-180km (longest ride), followed by some running. Look for events that will give you this experience, four to six weeks before your event. At the very least, go away with training friends for a few days and knock out the miles.
  2. Taper Your Training
    It would amaze you how many athletes leave things to the last minute. That includes training, even for ultras and multi-day events! Your longest training week should be at least two to three weeks before your event. If you haven’t built your training base, you will have a tough day, but if you try to cram in more training in the last two weeks, you will have an even tougher day. Be fresh for your event!
  3. Fat Loading
    There is some research that suggests that if your diet is higher in protein and fat and low in carbs, it trains your body to burn fat better. This is relevant for events over three hours or so when carb is not king. It doesn’t work for everyone, but a useful resource is The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain and tri-coach Joe Friel.
  4. Carb Loading
    Regardless of whether you fat load or not, three days before the start of your Epic adventure you should be carb loading. Nothing drastic, just increasing the carb-rich food in your diet and dropping fat intake (the fat-burning capacity will remain).
  5. Exercise The Day Before
    Get out on your bike for an easy hour or do a 20-30 minute run. Include four to five surges of up to 30 seconds to sharpen up your nerves.
  6. Know Your Course
    What is the distance of your event? How many laps of the swim? What’s the likely wave pattern? Where are the hills? Where are the fuel stops? This knowledge helps you to break down the course and goal-set in bite-size chunks.
  7. Pace Yourself
    What average pace have you achieved for similar long events in training and races? What is realistic based on temperature, wind and hills?
  8. Race Day Nutrition
    You should have chosen a sports drink long before your event and used it repeatedly in training. You need to still like it after eight hours of exercise. There are some good products that contain some protein for longer distance events, so consider these, it will help with fuel and immune support. Solid food is really important. Try these in training: bananas, salted baby potatoes, protein bars, energy bars, nougat, peanut butter and jam sandwiches.
  9. Watch Your Fluid
    You will need anywhere from 500ml to 1-litre of fluid per hour, depending on the heat and the speed that you’re travelling. Start drinking early. Don’t overdo it because you can end up with hyponatremia (water overload) which is as bad as dehydration.
  10. Train on Good Food
    The table below suggests a few example diets. On average, 2500 Cal is perfect for a lightly exercising woman or sedentary man and 3000 Cal for a heavily exercising woman or lightly exercising man.

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Taken from the Mar/Apr 2010 issue of Go Multi Magazine.

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About Ian Craig

Ian Craig MSc, CSCS, INLPTA is an exercise physiologist, nutritional therapist, NLP practitioner and an endurance coach. He was a competitive middle-distance runner for 20 years and is now a more leisurely runner and cyclist. Ian specialises in Functional Sports Nutrition, a fast evolving discipline that considers both health and performance of an athlete from an integrative health perspective. Ian is the editor of the UK magazines, Functional Sports Nutrition and Total Sports Nutrition, leads the Middlesex University Personalised Sports Nutrition postgraduate course and the new Functional Sports Nutrition Academy. In South Africa, he is a consultant for genetics company DNAlysis Biotechnology and runs a private exercise and nutrition practice in Johannesburg.

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