In this blog, we’ll tell you how to make the most of November for your next performance leap
How did your 2023 season go?
For many (professional) athletes, NOW is the time to look back on the past year. YOU too can use this month to reflect on the year, by first asking yourself appropriate questions.
Did you set a new best time? Won a race? Or did 2023 not go according to plan at all and you went from one injury to the next time out?
Whatever has happened in the last few months, know that you can learn valuable lessons from it!
Here is a suggestion for the new season: A training diary can be very helpful for this – especially if you don’t have a coach with whom you can talk about the season and reflect on it again. This makes it easier for you to recognize where potential still lies dormant.
For example, in terms of training planning, if the focus this year was on a marathon, then next year, or at least for the first training cycle, it may make sense to train for a “fast run” like a 5K or 10K. This way, you set other, new training stimuli and peaks, from which your marathon time will also benefit in the end.
Or were you injured a lot? Then take a closer look at your diet and regeneration.
Very often these simple aspects are underestimated, especially among amateur athletes. But if you’re working and on the side you’re spending several hours a week in your running shoes, on your bike or in the pool, then you have an enormously high demand for energy and nutrients.
Our tip: Try adding an extra energy source before your sessions, like the PORRIDGE BAR or SLOW CARB. Professional athletes have long known that this can make a huge difference. But more about that later.
Do you have ants in your pants again? Then you are not alone in this!
Many athletes have a similar experience during the winter break. After all, you’ve gotten used to the exercise and it’s good for you.
But your body will thank you if you put the brakes on now for a bit. One or even two weeks entirely dedicated to regeneration are just as important as a hard week of training.
So try to look at the first and quietest week of the training break just like any other week in the training plan and enjoy your well-deserved break.
That doesn’t mean you have to just lie around on the couch. Light movement such as walking or yoga are ideal for this phase.
Plus, there are some things you can do to best prepare yourself and your body for the start of a new training cycle:
Hand on heart: when was the last time you got a blood test done?
You can easily have this done by your family doctor. For example, micronutrient diagnostics are a good idea during the non-training period.
Here, blood samples are taken in the laboratory to determine how good your supply of vitamins, trace elements and minerals is.
The need for certain micronutrients is increased by the amount of training, which can quickly lead to an undersupply.
Based on the results of the analysis, you can use your break to eliminate any deficits and start the new season well prepared.
Why is performance diagnostics so interesting for athletes?
There is no ONE right training plan that leads to success for everyone. What works for one person may be harmful to another. That’s why it makes no sense at all to copy someone else’s training plan or to compare notes.
The physiological reactions with which the body responds to training vary from person to person. Every athlete has different prerequisites, different strengths and also diverse goals – a sporting fingerprint, so to speak. In order to adapt the training to this fingerprint, a performance diagnostic is useful.
Some common diagnostic tests are, for example, spiroergometry and/or the lactate test.
Spiroergometry is a combination of exercise and simultaneous measurement of your maximum oxygen uptake: VO2max, your so-called “aerobic engine”.
Analyzing these measured diagnostics can identify a variety of data, such as the all-important VO2max (see more HERE). But it can also detect possible limitations in the lungs, as well as in cardiovascular and muscular systems.
In addition, calorie consumption during physical activity and the ratio of fat to carbohydrate metabolism can be estimated.
Performance diagnostic tests such as spiroergometry as well as a variety of other tests during training, can also determine relevant data to compile a super individual metabolic profile.
The metabolic profile, which every professional athlete works with nowadays, provides you with very precise and really important data. The metabolic profile basically maps how your metabolism works. It shows at what time and at what power you consume how many carbohydrates and fats.
Spiroergometry is usually performed on a treadmill with a mask that measures oxygen uptake and output. The test either runs in one go without a break, or there are different “stages” with short breaks, in which your lactate is also measured. The lactate test will give you even more info:
Lactate level test
A lactate test records the increase in lactate levels in the blood after increasing exercise and thus determines the aerobic/anaerobic threshold. This is the threshold at which you can maintain the highest training intensity for a longer period of time without the lactate concentration in the blood increasing too much (which would result in a drop in performance).
Knowing your thresholds means that you can take these into account when planning and managing your workouts. Great potential may lie dormant here for 2024!
The lactate value is determined by taking small amounts of capillary blood from the earlobe immediately after exercise. The test first starts at a low intensity, before progressively increasing the intensity level.
The test ultimately tells you about someone’s endurance capabilities. The results might, for example, reveal that someone has very good basic endurance, but perhaps should work a little more on the anaerobic range. Or you might find out that someone hasn’t got enough basic endurance and should work on that.
By the way: Many health insurance provieders participate in these performance diagnostics, so be sure to check it out in advance!
A car cannot run without fuel. And without energy, you can’t perform. What sounds so simple and obvious is still often neglected by (hobby) athletes.
So you could use the end of the season to look at your nutritional habits. After all, the right everyday nutrition as well as optimal food during training could be the key to your next leap in performance.
We’ll take a look at a few things you can do to improve your performance.
Ideally, you know your energy expenditure both at rest and in training so that you can properly assess your energy needs and thus carbohydrate requirements. After all, carbohydrates are THE energy source for you as an endurance athlete.
Otherwise, smart gadgets like a sports watch or fitness tracker can also provide an indication of your energy expenditure.
To determine your total energy requirements, you need to add the amount of energy expended during any type of physical activity to your Basal Metabolic Rate (energy expenditure at rest). There are various formulas for this purpose.
But since these are very complex, we suggest you use the analysis tool of our nutrition expert and product developer Robert Gorgos, Sentiero.
Now that you know approximately your total energy expenditure, you should try to distribute calories smartly throughout the day.
We recommend the following:
You should consume this energy during and around the session to preserve glycogen stores in the long run and avoid negative effects on the body.
As an endurance athlete, the primary focus of your diet should be on a food selection as diverse and varied as possible with unprocessed and fresh foods.
In other words, foods that provide you with important nutrients, vitamins and minerals (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, occasionally meat and fish).
Make sure all macronutrients, as well as micronutrients, have a place on your plate.
The daily ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, “color” and fats should ideally be adjusted depending on what your day looks like (rest day, casual training, intervals, competition). A good and simple example is the so-called “runner’s plate”.
By the way: Just because you might be on a training break right now, you should definitely not cut back on nutrition!
Instead, you could now really focus on a nutrient- and fiber-rich diet – after all, on training-intensive days you tend to save on fiber, as it puts unnecessary strain on your stomach.
Your diet on rest days is – understandably – different from that on intense days. To learn more about how you should best eat on rest days, have a look at our article “Recover better & healthier with the right nutrition on rest days“.
Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy, as they are quickly converted into glucose to provide energy to the muscles.
Carbohydrates provide you with energy faster than fat during intense exercise. Although fat can be stored in the body almost indefinitely, its use is not as efficient and rapid as via carbohydrates.
However, the carbohydrate stores in the muscles and liver are again not infinite. Therefore, you must always supply sufficient energy in the form of carbohydrates.
So make sure you eat enough carbohydrates before, during and after your workout to replenish your energy stores and avoid premature fatigue during exercise.
The easiest way to get enough carbohydrates is through special natural sports food as this is much better tolerated than “normal” solid food.
We’ve developed performance products for different purposes, goals, and sports that make it easier for you to get the right form and amount of energy.
Keep in mind that the more intense and/or longer your training session is, the more carbohydrates you need.
SLOW CARB is our special carbohydrate drink for basic endurance. The contained carbohydrate source isomaltulose (PalatinoseTM) slowly enters the blood. This provides you with long-lasting energy and favors fat metabolism training. World-class triathlete Laura Philipp calls SLOW CARB a “game changer” for her endurance training.
If it gets more intense (or longer), you can for example switch to FAST CARB or POWER CARB. The compositions from different carbohydrate sources in the optimal ratio go into the blood as quickly as possible and are available to your organism after the shortest possible time. Instant energy is guaranteed to keep you going as you power through your training sessions or competition.
A compact energy source – especially for the runners among us – offers you the GEL 40. Even the cycling pros from BORA – hansgrohe swear by our top-compatible gels.
Important: Of course you can get through a workout without eating. But the question then is how efficient your session really was….
If you don’t take care of yourself at all, or if you take care of yourself too late, sooner or later your performance will collapse. In addition, your regeneration takes much longer as a result.
That’s why we advise to start eating early and consistently.
You can easily find out what exactly your training or competition food should look like in your sport by using our fuel calculator.
“Regeneration starts already during training by making the right decision” – Robert Gorgos knows from his years of work with top athletes.
Part of this decision is the corresponding aftercare post-training. In order to regenerate optimally after training, it is important to use the so-called “open window”.
This means that within an hour after a workout, you should consume certain nutrients that your body needs for optimal recovery.
It is important to combine carbohydrates with proteins. This is because the insulin release from the carbohydrates opens the cells to the protein supplied.
A guideline for nutrient intake after training is: 1g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight, combined with 0.2g of protein per kg of body weight.
Suitable for this purpose is for example our RECOVERY SHAKE. It contains proteins and carbohydrates in an optimal ratio and also other recovery-promoting aminos such as glutamine and leucine.
“I’ve noticed that I can easily put away more kilometers in a week and regenerate much better,” says German marathon champion Hendrik Pfeiffer: “What’s more, the chocolate flavor is extremely pleasant. I usually use the shake once or twice a day – depending on how intense my training was.”
In this sense: Work hard, recover harder. And be smart as you plan your comeback.
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