PREPARE TO PERFORM

No matter what sport you participate in from gym goers to endurance junkie’s preparation for a session require not just a wake up and go but an actual strategy for how you are going to fuel yourself before during and after your session.

I often get asked the question of what and it ultimately depends on a few factors which need to be seriously taken into consideration.

These are:

What time are you training?

How long are you training for?

What intensity are you training at?

When are you training again?

Without clearly understanding the objectives of your workout how can you possible achieve the desired outcome. Secondly, what is your main goal?

Weight loss?

More lean muscle mass and a better physique?

Better fitness and endurance?

More muscle mass?

Less body fat?

Health?

 

Did you know that just training without the proper nutrition around it is just a complete waste of time? You really need to take this into consideration if you want to achieve your goals especially from a health point of view.

I have often used the analogy of comparing a human body to a vehicle. So, you want the body of a Ferrari which is awesome. But instead of having high performance fuel you use a very low-grade petrol and oil. You don’t take care of the engine yet you expect the “Ferrari” to perform. That is ridiculous. You think you can treat your engine like a VW beetle and perform like a Ferrari. Sorry friend it isn’t going to happen. If you look at it from a health perspective imagine placing really bad fuel into the engine and then trying to get it to accelerate to an extremely high speed, with barely any water in the engine. Yes, that’s you, the athlete or lifter who thinks they can eat KFC in moderation and then push out huge weights or high wattage. Eventually the pipe will burst, the engine will blow something will have to give and it always does. Maybe not immediately but certainly over time.  If you have a high-performance vehicle you will go out of your way to make sure that the best fuel, oil and tires are used. Same with your own body, if you treat it with high performance fuel and give it the best, you can only expect it to perform at its best.

Do you know what the advantage of being human is?

We might not look like a high performing vehicle or have that lean muscular or fast physique, but one thing we have which a vehicle doesn’t is we can change our shape. We can completely reshape ourselves inside and out and that all boils down to the fuel we place in our engines. It should be the best. I am not talking about illegal substances and quick fixes which impact your health. I am speaking about proper nutrition which will keep you on the journey from a health and performance perspective to reach your goal.

I often hear people saying everything in moderation. What rubbish. If I ate everything I enjoyed in moderation it would be disastrous. Imagine I drank wine, coke and beer in moderation, ate pizza in moderation and the followed that up with some chocolate in moderation. My eating week would be hell. Moderation is an absolute excuse for the lazy to sacrifice their health and goals for emotional attempts at making their serotonin levels rise to fill their minds with awesomeness. In the end it’s a losing battle. You are what you eat and it couldn’t be more accurate than that.

Now with all this in mind I have completely drifted away from the discussion of actual fueling and now that we know how important nutrition is let’s go back to that awesome topic of where to start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we are going to focus on the pre-workout nutrition. It’s going to be critical when trying to achieve a certain training goal.

I asked many questions above? Let’s review them and decide how to tackle our pre-training nutrition.

Time of the training session:

This is crucial as if you are waking up at the crack of dawn and going straight out on an exercise session do you really feel like eating so early on. Is it absolutely necessary to consume something at 4am. Well the truth is it depends on the next question.

How long and how intense is your workout going to be.

Only 60-90minutes long or maybe up to 2hrs or longer. This will certainly make a difference.

Now look at the objective. Weight gain weight loss, body fat burn, fat efficiency for endurance. These all play a part of the puzzle.

Considering the above scenarios, I would suggest any workout lasting up to 90min does not need much fuel at all. The human body has natural energy stores which can keep you going at a high intensity for that period and you can pretty much do a fasted training session.

Check out my video explaining the Fuel Tanks of the Human Body https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3egjhBpfo0&t=2s this will explain clearly how your own natural energy stores work.

Training fasted will allow you to burn off body fat quite early on depending on the session you are doing and simultaneously allow you to become a fat efficient athlete. Many people battle mentally with this. They don’t feel so great and this is only because of habit and what I call the brain train. You have trained your body in a certain way, and its adapted to that. Attempting this is confusing and a shock to the system and so it takes shorter sessions over time building up to longer sessions to become better at it.

If you ever do a fasted training session you must know how to recover properly from it. Without proper recovery you will battle to make the gains you need and if there was a second session later that day you will be fatigued to turn out another quality workout.

I often get asked about muscle catabolism as opposed to anabolism with fasted training. My answer to that is for a session this short you certainly won’t catabolize your own muscle you have plenty of other fuel to work with. If you are a body builder and require a minimum daily protein intake which is much higher than an endurance athlete then a protein is most likely required at wake up and again later after for recovery however that is a different topic completely.

So, I threw a spanner in the works now telling you to train fasted. I am not saying it’s a must. As I do advise athletes on pre-workout nutrition prep to increase fat burn, naturally of course, make the brain happier and provide far better mental focus.  There are many meal ideas and natural supplements which can be used to enhance the workout and allow you to perform very well while being rewarded with the same benefits.

I bet your next question is what are these and what I will do is give you a little insight into how I fuel my sessions to explain it a little further.

Not many people know but I did come from a weight lifting background into endurance sport, I once weight 112kg now only 66kg. So, I understand both worlds quite intimately, and how the body suffers in both. Each is unique. I train for endurance but I also do strength and both have their challenges.

At wake up my primary objective is to ensure I am alert and focused. Early morning sessions often sacrifice the final sleeping hours of major hormonal release and final deep sleep cycles. I won’t get into discussing the science of sleep now, however I can say this. Waking up in a deep sleep cycle can leave you feeling fatigued and tired. It’s not a pleasant feeling.

What are my goals as an endurance athlete?

Maintain a lean healthy muscle mass
Keep my immune system strong
Make sure I am a fat burning machine (fat efficiency is an endurance athlete’s best friend)
Ensure my energy levels are consistent

Wow what a list you might say
They are in no order of preference. Each of these are important to overall health strength and speed.

So, I will tell you how I do it.

It’s quite Simple. Firstly, for any athlete, the mental aspect plays a critical role. Strength of mind can get us through almost anything. However, this requires mental focus. This is where my favorite friend caffeine comes into play. This doesn’t mean any caffeine it means measurable caffeine. I use TrueStart performance coffee for this. It carries an accurate 95mg of caffeine per a serving and it’s a natural caffeine releasing for close to 6hrs which completely covers my workout. The best thing is its completely natural and as anyone knows I hate synthetic products.

I know per a kilogram of bodyweight how much caffeine I need before a workout and how long it will last me in order to provide me the right amount of focus to cover my session. TrueStart Coffee does the trick.  What else does caffeine do? I free up more free fatty-acids which allow me more access to free energy floating around my body in simple terms more fat for fuel. I also like to load myself with green tea in the mornings. Research has shown that green tea can assist in decreasing fat storage and assisting with fat burn BUT to achieve this quite a fair amount needs to be consumed. I can drink anywhere from 6-20 cups a day depending on my mood. One cup is not going to do the trick but I love waking up to it. I like the taste and use it as a form of hydration.

Generally a session of up to 90-120min for me will be covered by the above due to my fat efficiency. However on slightly longer sessions. I make a little energy bomb and generally this is concoction of pure MCT oil, caffeine, nut butter and vanilla powder. Oh its s a BOMB and a tablespoon kickstarts my engine rapidly, of course I could add some BCAA’s and Beta Alinine to add more fuel to the fire, BUT that’s again for another discussion. I keep it simple depending on my goal. If I don’t feel like eating then I just add pure vanilla flavoured MCT oil or MCT oil with Vanilla powder to my TrueStart Coffee and that’s enough fire to get me going from the mug.

Another product I use when I am on the go is the 32Gi G-Shot, 60mg of caffeine per a serving in a simple snap sachet and easy to stack in my wallet, makes it a very convenient carry and use.

This type of pre-workout ensures I can churn out a quality session with-out compromising what I need. It is so effective you won’t believe the results after a few weeks. I often get asked what about carbs before your workout? Why?

I have natural carbohydrates stores in my body 2000 calories worth and they will easily see me for up to 2hrs of a high intensity exercise (Check out my video link I mentioned earlier) I use what I have no need to douse my flames. Raising my blood glucose levels before a session will just mitigate my fat burning ability so if my goal is to burn more fat why would I start my session off on the wrong foot? It doesn’t make sense. If workouts are much longer then that’s a completely different story and we will get to that in another blog. As for strength training the above would work just as well. So, weight lifters go crazy.

This is just a small share into my morning routine before a session, I will cover more topics of longer endurance sessions, fueling during and post exercise recovery. But for now, keep training hard, sleep well and eat even harder 😉

             The Fitness Freak

P.S. I FORGOT

If you are keen on TrueStart Coffee there is a great deal at the moment Just Click Here 

32Gi’s GShot is available online at the 32Gi Store Just Click Here

As far as MCT oil go there are a few, but Battle Brew and Natures Choice are two I have used which are awesome Dis-Chem stock Natures Choice and Chrome Battle Brew. Natures choice has a Vanilla flavour which is pretty decent.

As far as my nut butter bomb goes well I will certainly be giving you a recipe in the near future as I make it all myself 😉

 

 

The Pipe Club

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I often see runners get asked how can they run?

In the sporting community it usually comes from the cyclists and swimmers, and when these athletes switch to triathlon the one discipline that is sometimes the toughest for them to grasp is the dreaded run.

Pushing hard on the swim, or destroying the bike hoping one has made up enough time to hold the runners back on the run. No chance. The strong runner comes cruising by with ease, leaving you behind wondering what you did wrong. A multisport athlete that comes from a running background is often at a great advantage. I often tell people that a runner can learn to ride a bike but for a cyclist to switch to running is not so easy and it takes a lot of hard work and effort to get to a stage where you feel very comfortable.

I was fortunate to have quite a bit of swimming and running in my school days, but then for many years I let it slip away and switched my focus to weight lifting and then finally coming back to mountain biking, road cycling and then to triathlon. 
My bike was always a strong leg and with all that leg power I was very confident to sit on the bike and smash the pedals for long periods of time, but once I neared transition I used to dread that run that lay ahead.
I knew it would be a hard slog and definitely not a cruise. No matter how much time I put into my competitors especially in the longer distance races they would just eat it back and some more leaving me feeling very frustrated. 

I would hear a lot of talk from the running community about the runners high and I thought man you guys are smoking some awesome pipes because I could not imagine any such thing. I decided to make a conscious effort and switch all my core focus to running, reducing my cycling and swimming focus and seeing where it would lead me. 

Day after day I would pound the tar, searching for something which in my mind was fictitious and only existed in the minds of the “Pipe Smokers”. Months went by and I was still battling through. Muscular legs and a muscular upper body didn’t help my runners frame and the conscious effort of becoming the runner was one of hard physical training, learning proper technique and training the gut with proper nutrition. More months went by and I was convinced that no such thing as the runners high existed and if it did exist why did I not experience it on the bike or the swim, why were these “runners” so special? 

I built up speed, I built up distance and my running improved dramatically but that one single thing was still eluding me.

Two years later, on a Sunday morning I was headed out on a 25km training run, and all I could think about was my reasoning for the run was because I had to. I had some races coming up and needed the mileage. Understand one thing, running was still not enjoyable for me even though I was running well and it had improved drastically. I truly dreaded long runs, I found them tedious and boring and couldn’t wait to get to the finish to bank the session. It was in my mind a painful drag.
I headed out with some music to keep me company and at around 10km’s in I was thinking man still another 15km’s of darkness to go. I just kept pushing through, legs one in front of the other and trying to keep my focus on getting to the finish.
At around 15km’s I started to feel pretty okay and then as time went on I started to feel better. I wasn’t so much focused on the finish line anymore but the present.
Then suddenly it hit me, like a molecular nuclear explosion from absolutely nowhere. Extremely heightened senses, shivers in every single part of my body where sweat ran and my mind just completely drifted into a zone where I felt completely superhuman. My pace lifted my legs floated, and my mostly used frowning facial muscles which were always there during a run slowly eased off and put an extremely rare smile on my face, which seemed so ridiculous but there was no ways it was going anywhere it was there to stay. Complete elation and euphoria, the Runners High. 

I finally became a member of the “Pipe Club” and never doubted them again. I wondered if this was a once off, or only under certain conditions. There are many articles on the subject and the physiology behind the euphoric conditions have been explained in many ways, but as runners who cares as long as its there we love it. It allows us to contemplate to strategize, to think to dream, to create, to destress and to smile its all encompassing and makes us feel alive.

Ten years later and I can honestly say this I experience the high every single time I run, it does not matter if its track, short or long, at some point in my workout that smile hits my face and every single thing around me disappears while I relish my own little piece of heaven even if it is for a short while. 

My advice to anyone taking on running or switching their focus to running, keep turning over those legs, keep persisting and I can guarantee you that the pot of gold will eventually be waiting at the end of your rainbow.