harvesting grouse, Okanogan Highlands, 2016, cr. Ashley Feerer

One of the most common questions I get is: "How do I eat properly during my next event?" The answer begins long before event day.

Fueling for endurance is scientific and it is an artful practice in self-knowledge.

Food resistances and allergies: As a starting point, the athlete must be aware of any dietary restrictions she might have. Severe resistances and allergies can result in low hemoglobin or severe gut irritation - both chronic issues that can stifle the growth of an endurance animal.

Self-knowledge: Given your values, where you live, and what you crave your diet may look very different from my diet. For example, I have a close friend living in California and when we run together she packs a nutrient-dense vegetable juice flask while I tote venison sausage and sheep cheese. There are as many ways to accomplish nutritional solvency as there are individual people.

working hard to eat well, Aconcagua, 2012 cr. Chad Kellogg

Before: As the athlete prepares for an event, it is her job to learn to fuel on the move during training sessions as simulation for the event of choice. Additionally, the months (or years) pre-event are well-suited to lavish self care in the form of optimized post-run or -climb or -ski refueling. Arriving on event day over fueled and under trained is preferrable to the inverse - which may result in ketosis or musculoskeletal injury.

During: While in motion, the fuel must continue. Based on an intimate understanding of the specific athlete's anaerobic threshold, VO2Max, pace, heart rate, and preferences nutrition is programmed specifically for the training session or event in question. This balance of carbohydrates, fat, protein, aminos, sodium, and a plethora of other values varies from day to day and event to event even for a single athlete. During our coaching engagement, we can determine the best food for you to consume throughout your endurance practice's lifecycle.

picking a sweet one off a tree in my yard-orchard, Methow Valley, 2016

After: Post-exertion nutrition is perhaps the most important (and the simplest) aspect of endurance-specific nutrition. There are two windows during which the athlete's worked body is most receptive to nutrient replenishment - and the consequences for ignoring those windows will make themselves apparent on your next sluggish run or ride. Our coaching engagement will provide you with the concrete calorie ratios and time windows for refueling post-event.

But what do you eat, Brittany? A lot of people in my community ask this. I am Celiac and prefer to keep my dairy consumption minimal. My family and I hunt much of our own food; when we shop for the rest we choose local and organic every time. My daily staples this season are oats, seasonal fruit (chomping an apple from my tree right now), fresh-ground nut butters, homemade breads, venison, grouse, salmon, trout, root vegetables, squashes, warming cardomom chai tea, stout greens, high-quality walnut oils, homemade bone broths, and a lot of fermented delicacies. I drink no alcohol and rarely consume added sugars. However, I'm known to splash a generous amount of apple cider vinegar into whatever fizzy thing is in my glass. 

Beyond the dogma (and the fads): You may have tried a restrictive diet, one that uses no evidence nor specific knowledge of your body to tell you what foods are 'off limits'. This is at best ineffective and at worst can manifest a latent eating disorder. If a climbing partner or trainer espouses the bounds of a diet that sound more like a game of Risk than a delicious menu, it is best to steer clear.

 

Using my evidence-based approach to training, performing, and recovering with sound nutritional content and timing, you will improve your performance and decrease susceptibility to illness or fatigue. Click below to sign up for nutrition-specific coaching - and stay tuned for more on this deep topic including words about supplementation, plant-based diets, and guest posts from some smarty-pants nutritionists.

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