Nutrition is a massive part of an athlete’s routine. Most professional athletes have dieticians who work out meal plans for them and some even have their own chefs to prepare their meals. But what about us mere mortals? Here are a few suggestions for a pre exercise workout, based on my own experience as a cyclist, which may also benefit those participating in other sporting activities that use a lot of aerobic energy.
My pre-race or event meal usually consists of either poached eggs on toast, porridge or a rice-based dish. Pasta is also a good alternative and I know a lot of athletes go for this option. You then want to be eating your pre-event meal roughly 3 hours before you are due to start. A high-sugar snack, around 30 minutes before the start, is also advisable. I usually have a banana! Ultimately, the body should have enough energy stored in it to last 1 hour 30 mins before you then need to start taking on more food and energy. I find that energy gels will only give you about 20 minutes of energy and a banana 30 minutes, so try mixing it up with maybe a rice cake or flapjack or energy bar, until you find a combination that suits you. Also remember that you’re not riding the Tour de France, so don't throw your wrappers away into the grass verge. Put them in your back pocket and dispose of them responsibly.
In terms of what to drink, if you haven't any energy drink left or don't have time to buy any, a glass of cordial juice/squash, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar combined, will contain most of the ingredients found in some energy drinks and is quick and easy - and cheap to make. If you suffer from cramps you can also now buy tablets that have all of the vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and salts that you need to prevent them. They work in exactly the same way that a dissolvable Vitamin C tablet does. Just pop it in your water and watch it fizz away. These tablets are particularly popular with riders who are participating in events in hot conditions.
Overall, whatever you choose to eat and drink, always remember to stay well-fueled and hydrated. If you’re out and about, it’s also a good idea to take a little money with you, just in case you need to buy anything to top yourself up as there’s nothing worse than running out of energy when you’re miles from home. It can turn a nice ride into a battle, so always be prepared! Nathan Wilson.