Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Nutritional To-do's in Preparation for Next Season
With the holidays over, the off-season continues for many endurance athletes. Others are starting the building phase of their training. Regardless of which category you fall into, there are things you need to do now to prepare you for racing season this spring, summer and/or fall:
Review your race nutrition for your top 3 races last year. What went well? What went poorly? Did your nutrition limit your performance? Did you feel like you had enough energy for the entire race? Did you cramp or have digestive problems during the race? Next, review the season as a whole. How did your body and pace hold up? Were you sick often or nursing a recurrent injury? Did you lose or gain a substantial amount of weight? Answering these questions will help you set goals for next season as well as identify the problems you then need to take to a sports dietitian.
This is the time to have labwork done. It is a great way to get a baseline check of what is happening inside your body. Some values you want to check:
-Complete blood count (CBC) including ferritin (an additional iron measure)
-Lipid profile (i.e. total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, etc...)
-Vitamin D level (lab value is 25(OH)D )
-Thyroid panel (including TSH, T3, T4 and antibodies)
-Sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone)
-Inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein is a good one)
-Blood sugar check-in (hemoglobin A1c, blood glucose, insulin)
It may look like a lot, but remember this is an overall assessment to identify anything that might hinder your training and future performance.
Off-season is a great time to readjust what you are choosing to put in your body. Always have a hard time eating veggies? Try a new veggie each week. Not a big fan of fruit? Add one piece with lunch every day. Hate whole wheat? Incorporate whole wheat bread every other time you choose bread. The more you focus on a nutritional change, the quicker it becomes habit. This is the perfect time to focus on whole food intake and put away the sport products and convenience food from your training days.
Here's to a great 2014 training and racing season!
Picture source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/