Nutrition. It’s a blanket word that in its simplest form is ‘providing or obtaining food necessary for health and growth’. Spot on! However, when it comes to sports and exercise, nutrition isn’t just providing your body for health and growth, no food means no energy, which is why the sports world has coined it as ‘fuel’. You can have the best engine in the world but without the right petrol that engine isn’t going anywhere (especially not fast!).
TRIBE has a range of products that suit all my training needs from hydration to fuelling and recovery. My partner and I are running the Endurance Life race in North York Moors so we have been heavy on hill training which is tricky in London as it’s flat as a pancake. There are options to hit some of the surrounding ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, but if you are short on time then Greenwich Park is a great substitute. Crammed with a decent set of ascents, you can choose to rep the hills or find a longer loop that is slightly less soul-destroying. A mix of tarmac and trail means you can train for different terrain and at about 10:00 on the weekends the DOGGO PARADE commences (arguably the best-selling point of this location).
06:00 is when my alarm goes off, I am very much a morning person and I enjoy getting out and about whilst it’s quiet. Breakfast is quick and simple, porridge with a banana and yoghurt (plus peanut butter powder, which I’ve been converted too because apparently the amount of peanut butter I consume is considered ‘absurd’). It’s good to leave some time between eating and training just to let the food settle, I normally wait a couple of hours before I set off.
During that time, I gather all the things that I’ll need on a two-hour run with hills. Water is an obvious essential and because my platypus can only take 1.5L, I use TRIBE hydration sachets to get the most from every sip.
Salt is overlooked in training and racing considering it plays a crucial role in how your body stores and regulates water during exercise. It’s a fine line between dehydration (leading to muscle cramps) and taking on so much fluid that we dilute our bodies sodium reserves (causing other critical problems), so finding a happy balance with a little hydration tab/sachet can help you stay bang in the middle of the sodium spectrum.
In my runpack:
- Two TRIBE Infinity Energy bars
- One TRIBE Orange & Cacao Energy bar (sweeter)
- One emergency gel
- 1.5L water with two TRIBE hydration sachets
- Plasters, Nurofen, spare socks (not paranoid about blisters at all…)
- COVID friendly kit: facemask and hand sanitiser
- Lip balm (it’s essential)
- The ‘never leave the house without it’ items: phone, bankcard (actually, facemasks now belong here too)
I’d love to say that after prepping, I spend those two hours stretching out, visualising finish lines and reminding myself of my sporting aspirations…I don’t. Instead I use the time to catch up on my favourite podcasts* just to disconnect and avoid building any pressure on myself. Plus, in endurance sports we spend a large portion of our time training and not enough on giving back to ourselves recreationally, so I really cherish these windows!
08:30 the backpack goes on and my pockets are immediately stuffed with TRIBE. I’m a creature of habit so I stick with what I love which are the Infinity Energy Choc and Salt Caramel bars. I struggle with [what I call] ‘furry mouth syndrome’, which is when I eat too many sweet things and I feel like my mouth has been lined with carpet, so this is where TRIBE really excel in my books. Packed with blend of both fast and slow release energy, they aren’t too sweet and serve both my short and long-term requirements during a run. I also pack an Orange and Cacao Energy Bar, containing more of the sweet stuff, in case I find myself needing a quick hit. Sugar is the easiest nutrient for your body to convert to energy so when you can tell you’re on a one-way train to Bonksville, having something sweet to hand can be a saviour!
08:50, I squealed at the sight of the first doggo, it was a terrier.
09:00 is when I’d take my first bite of Infinity Energy. I break the bars up into three or four pieces so that I can take fuel on little and often which is easier on your tummy when it’s not concentrating on digestion. Thereafter I aim to have a bite every 20 minutes to make sure I’m topped up.
More factual stuff:
Running is more strenuous on your heart rate, which sometimes results in cramping or funny tummies during a training session. The human body is incredibly efficient at adapting to situations, so when you are exercising it takes all the blood and focus away from your digestive system and pumps it into the parts of you that are working, your muscles. Hence why eating easily convertible foods is far superior to tearing apart a steak mid-session.
09:45, I’d seen two vizslas and four dachshunds.
My run was 2:15hrs, 7kms to the park and the rest was repeats of a 3.8km loop starting at the bottom of Crooms Hill, a 600m effort at a fairly steep gradient which packs a punch at pace! The loop continues as an undulating mix of steady climbs and shorter, sharper hills. I try to time when I eat away from the uphill sections as a lower heart rate is better at facilitating digestion. My watch has a kilometre lap alert so whenever that goes off, I take a sip of water. It stops me from waiting until I feel thirsty to drink and then have too much and acquire a stitch (one of a runner’s arch nemesis’). The trick to hydration and fuelling is to always be one step ahead, if you are feeling hungry then it’s too late so challenge yourself to keep replenished throughout.
11:00, run done, two TRIBE infinity energy bars and one Orange & Cacao Energy bar were consumed, and I was VERY READY for a coffee.
11:25, I’d made it home and quickly fetched myself a protein bar, TRIBE Double Choc obvs. They use a vegan blend of protein which I prefer (even though I’m very much an omnivore) to the normal whey products. This is where the recovery nutrition kicks in and it’s best to replenish protein stores within the first 30 minutes of finishing your workout. I sometimes use the TRIBE protein shakes as if I’ve been fuelling myself with solid foods and craving something less dense.
My feet are firmly UP for the rest of the day. Normally I’m on a bike somewhere to meet someone or running errands so it was slightly novel to not know what to do with myself for once! I always get peckish in the afternoon, so I made myself [another] cup of coffee and tucked into some TRIBE Nature Bombs which are currently my go-to snack. Chocolate + nuts = A TASTE SENSATION, there’s a reason people love Nutella, this is just far better for you!
High fat snacks keep you feeling fuller for longer (as if that tagline hasn’t been overused and for good reason!) and I try to make sure I substitute some of my ‘empty’ snacks with more wholesome ones.
Nutrition is a heavy focus for me in general. I’ve been in the world of endurance sports for a few years now and I’m still learning what works in different disciplines, events etc. and again and again it proves to be much like a fingerprint, everyone is different. My best advice is to talk to people and experiment. Sure, there will be times when it might not go to plan and other times when you have that ‘Eureka!’ moment and all those uncomfortable runs, when Jelly Babies and bacon didn’t go down so well, will be worth it. In the meantime, you can check out the products I mentioned above on the TRIBE website www.wearetribe.co and I hope that gaining some insight into the session of an amateur athlete who loves to run helps you find that perfect formula.
By Cole Pugson