The triathlon season is fast approaching and it’s time to get a pulse on your fuel plan. Hopefully off-season has been an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate the body and mind to prepare for another season of kicking butt and taking names. Now it’s time to make some fueling adjustments so that your body can meet the demands of the increased training load! Try the following pre-season fuel plan tips:
STAY ON TRACK DURING THE OFF-SEASON
The Off-Season is a time to gorge yourself and eat everything in sight right?! Heck no! Don’t let Day 1 of your training also equate to the need for a complete diet overhaul. It’s much simpler to maintain weight and body composition by eating well year-round. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. It just means that the majority of the time, you are eating real food – minimal ingredients, with a focus on fruit, vegetables, fat, and proteins.
MAKE SURE YOUR TRAINING SCHEDULE & FUEL PLAN ARE ALIGNED
Dietary requirements vary dependent on where you are in the training cycle. This concept is called Nutrition Periodization and includes the following cycles: the Preparation Cycle, the Build Cycle, the Competition Cycle, and the Transition (Recovery) Cycle. Pre-Season most closely matches up with the Preparation and Build Cycles. But there are major differences between the two when it comes to training and fueling. The Preparation Cycle is really the only recommended time for athletes to attempt weight loss/body fat loss, as workouts are generally not as intense. By the time athletes enter the Build Cycle, workouts are really ramping up and the opportune time to trim body weight has passed. The athlete cannot afford an energy deficit at this point, and risks injury and illness by skimping on nutrients.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPES OF CARBS
In off-season and pre-season, most athletes can move away from grain carbohydrate choices, and focus on the very best carb sources – fruit, vegetables, and legumes. These sources are the most natural (minimally processed) and have tons of vitamins! Because so many of our food choices do contain carbohydrate, there really isn’t any danger in under-consuming this nutrient when the above categories of food are included. Grains are not an unhealthy choice, they are just one that I reserve for clients in the higher phases of training.
GET A HANDLE ON HYDRATION BEFORE THE HEAT HITS
It’s cool now, but the summer heat and humidity will be here before you can blink twice. Start focusing on fluid intake now, and ensure that you are assessing urine color daily to ensure you are staying hydrated. Urine should be pale yellow in color, except after vitamins, when it may be a brighter yellow.
MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR SEASON
Maybe this means recruiting the help of a Sports Dietitian, or establishing an accountability check and balance system with your training partner, but whatever your strategy is… make sure that you have one! All too often, athletes spend their timing focusing on the training, and let the nutrition plan fall to chance. Your season is too important to wing it. Make a plan –set nutrition goals for yourself and determine (before season starts) how you will check those goals off.
I cannot stress enough the importance of a solid fuel plan throughout your entire season. Pre-Season is a great time to get this year’s goals down on paper and make a plan for yourself. Happy Training.