Athletics is a sport with a wide range of disciplines and varying energy demands. On the track alone the requirements for an athlete competing in a 100m sprint for example are quite different to that of an athlete running a marathon.
Understanding the physical demands of sport is the first step in determining the best diet for athletes to support their training demands. Once the energy requirements are established, using a meal delivery service such as HelloFresh can give athletes a helping hand to introduce creative favours and variation in their diet as well as meet energy demands for a greater chance of success in competition.
Olympian and NSW Institute of Sport athlete Anneliese Rubie is a 400m sprinter who understands the role diet plays in her performance.
“Deciding what to eat each day is an integral part of my training and recovery” says Rubie.
“I need the food I’m eating to match my training demands and to kick start the recovery process, that way I’ve got enough energy to give it my all every session”.
There is a lot of time and effort that goes into getting the body ready for a race that takes less than a minute. For Annie there are multiple training sessions a day, time in the gym and different types of run sessions – some aerobic training and a lot of anaerobic training.
The goal to build speed and strength is made easier for Annie by tailoring a diet to suit the type of training she has over a week, then building on this as the phases of training change and lead into competition.
What to eat for Anaerobic Training
Anaerobic sessions are very high intensity featuring hard and fast sprints over short distances. Working at this intensity requires carbohydrates as the primary fuel to reach these peak levels of performance.
Directly after these sessions an athlete can be left tired with a very low appetite. This is due to the amount of blood flow that has moved away from the gut so it’s not prepared for a high level of digestion.
Often the last thing an athlete will want to do is eat as soon as they are finished so something small and easy to digest or fluid is best directly after training. Then when meals resume it’s important to replace the carbohydrate load that has been lost during anaerobic training. Consuming carbohydrates will ensure carb stores are replenished for the next tough training session.
A meal with a carbohydrate base such as a rice or pasta dish is best around anaerobic training to replenish stores ready for the next session.
What to eat for Aerobic Training
Aerobic training is generally at a lower intensity/pace but a slightly larger volume and involves a lot more oxygen going into the body. It’s more of a constant load and will work the body’s endurance levels and burn energy more evenly across carbs, fats and some proteins. When oxygen is present fat can be used as a fuel source in reserve if carbohydrates are running low.
This training suits a meal with a good balance of protein and starchy vegetables for moderate carbohydrates and some good fats.
For Anneliese Rubie, having a plan around food means one less thing she has to think about every day, allowing her to remain focused on achieving her goals.
“After all the hours training, working on technique and race plans, making sure I’m physically and mentally fit, it’s just me and the track out in front. I don’t need to think about anything else: the only thing that matters is the 400 metres ahead of me.”