We can look at nutrition by training blocks and split it into 5 parts. Up till base 2 (about 8-10 weeks into the plan) it is advisable to minimise starchy foods and carbs in general unless a workout is really stressful. This will make the body lean and more efficient at converting fat for fuel. During base 3 and into the build periods workouts become more intense and carbs during and after the workout become far more necessary for optimal recovery. In the peak period 2 weeks pre-race cut down on caffeine, and try to eliminate it race week to make the body more sensitive to it for the race.
Stage 1: Pre-workout – Only when a workout is long or intense is it necessary to fuel pre-workout. It is difficult to eat a meal 2 hours before a 5am workout so a quick snack like a small banana or orange, even a gel is a good idea. I have had success with Ensure.
Stage 2: During the Workout – Again, only during the workouts that are long or intense (90+ mins) will it be necessary to fuel. Try a gel, energy bar, dates, bananas, or home made bars. These are easy to swallow carbs that help the body get what it needs. Hydrate according to thirst. Do not over hydrate. As you get closer to your race, last 10 weeks really dial in on this aspect and eat and drink what you will in the race. You can even predict how much carbs your body will need per hour and hence how many gels you need per hour.
Stage 3: Within the first 30 mins post workout – Essential time to reload on carbs and proteins. A rule of thumb bout 1.4g of carbs per kg of body weight and about 300g per kg of body weight of protein.
Stage 4: Within 2 hours after the workout – Here you need a substantial meal, (starch and grains in the base 3 and build periods) with lean protein (egg, fish, free-range meats) and fruits and fruit juices (careful to limit the sugary fruits and dangerously disguised “fake” fruit juices), and veggies.
Stage 5: The rest of the time – Avoid carbs here, they will most probably only contribute to added stored fats and minimally contribute to recovery. Eat healthy veggies, leafy greens, lean proteins and non sugary fruits like grapefruits, strawberries, and figs. Snack on nuts and dried fruits.
Compiled by Faheem Mahomed