As an endurance athlete, you’re always pushing the pace, pushing the mileage and, most importantly, pushing yourself. To get to the next level—whatever that may be—consider endurance solutions that can keep up with you. Here’s a guide to what you need and when you need it.
TRAIN: POWER UP FOR LASTING ENERGY
Endurance athletes need sustained energy to go the distance. That means your pre-workout supplements should be designed to help support energy levels for miles of pavement-pounding. Carbs are king—they help maintain muscle energy stores (called glycogen) during exercise. Aim to fuel with carbs and a small amount of protein around two hours before your workout for maximum benefits. Use a sports drink to wash down a bagel with peanut butter, or consider carb-rich energy gels or sports shakes that are packed with fast-absorbing, easily digested carbohydrates. You may want to look for ones with B-vitamins too; they’re essential for energy metabolism.
RACE: DRINK UP FOR SUSTAINED SUPPORT
If your endurance workout exceeds 60 minutes, be sure to take along a convenient, ready-to-drink sports beverage—ideally one with a blend of electrolytes and carbs. You lose important electrolytes when you sweat, so look for a sports drink rich in chloride, sodium and potassium to replenish as you go. The carbs in your drink should help maintain glucose levels in your blood and muscles that allow for sustained energy.
RECOVER: FUEL UP FOR NUTRIENT RESTORATION
For optimal recovery immediately following your workout, continue replacing lost electrolytes with sports drinks. Then, within 1-2 hours, recover with a balance of carbs, proteins and fats. Carbs help you replenish your muscle glycogen stores while protein fuels lean muscle recovery. High-density nutrition shakes and bars deliver an ideal combination of these essentials, and chocolate milk and fruit smoothies are also effective recovery fuel choices.
REPEAT: KEEP UP FOR OVERALL HEALTH
Vitamin and mineral shortfalls can hinder performance gains. A daily multivitamin is a terrific safeguard against these gaps. If you are concerned about your joints, you may want to consider taking supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint comfort and supply the building blocks your body requires to maintain healthy joints. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish oil, can also support joint health and a healthy anti-inflammatory response.