10 tips to prepare for an endurance competition

CANARY ISLANDS7 The Gran Canarian palms

In the last five years, the
sports practice in Spain It has increased by 6.1%, according to the Survey of Sports Habits in Spain 2020. And, with it, mass participation competitions have also increased, which in 2019 already had a worldwide turnover of 4,000 million euros.

the sports of
endurance and ultra-endurance, longer than two and six hours respectively, are gaining weight in the calendar of sporting events thanks to the fact that marathons, trials, swimming or triathlons have more and more followers. But experts warn that we must be physically prepared to carry them out if we do not want to take risks.

“The most important thing is that we are not going to enjoy what we are doing and we are going to have a really bad time. But, in addition, you have to
be aware of the risks that exist when facing this type of test if we are not physically prepared, and those
risks They range from acute cardiovascular problems to all kinds of muscle injuries“, explains
Jerome Aragoncollaborating professor of the university master's degree in Nutrition in Physical Activity and Sport of the UOC's Health Sciences Studies.

According to experts, there are a number of
essential recommendations to face this type of tests successfully.

Image of the Transgrancanaria. /

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These are the main ones:

  1. 1

    1. At least one year of preparation.

  2. two

    Psychological training.

  3. 3

    Recommended weekly training time.

  4. 4

    Prior physical review.

  5. 5

    Hydration.

  6. 6

    Food in the training period.

  7. 7

    Food the days before the test.

  8. 8

    Food during the test.

  9. 9

    Don't forget to rest.

  10. 10

    How to face the test according to the chronotype.

At least one year of preparation

As Aragón explains, in the first place, it is necessary to assess in what
physicals conditions each one meets to establish a minimum preparation time before an endurance or ultra-endurance test. "A person who has been active hovers around the
35-45 years and wants to start doing mountain trials with a distance greater than
20 kilometersfor example, you should start very progressively, but you can start doing demanding training in terms of intensity, because your body already has the
physiological adaptations to be able to withstand the training load“, he points out. The expert clarifies that an active person is understood as someone who goes to work by bike —at least 8 kilometers round trip—, goes at least
three times a week to the gym or engage in similar physical activities regularly.

However, even those
active people they require at least one year of preparation «since they start the training process until they can do the first official trial, and always starting with smaller caliber tests (approximately 10 kilometres), considering that the height gain of the
test is not greater than 1,000 meters. We will have time to incorporate a greater workload, "she explains.

As for the people who are
sedentary, your participation in these types of tests requires much more preparation time. Specifically, double: the experts consider that they must prepare for at least two years to be able to do this type of test.

psychological training

Whether
compete for fun, for the sole purpose of participating, and you are aware that there are no chances of winning any prize, "basically with continuous participation you will acquire the ability to contain your emotions during the hours before the race", explains the collaborating professor of the UOC. However, those who have sufficient physical preparation to qualify for some type of prize, will be
recommends to visit a professional to establish a series of measures that
prevent obsessing with the competition. «They are usually activities such as going to the cinema the day before the competition, doing a puzzle days before or any other activity that focuses attention on other actions to avoid anxiety.
nervous overstimulation before the competition«, indicates Aragón.

Recommended weekly training time

Recommendations regarding the ideal weekly training time depend on the
training period and the physical level of each athlete. If the competition schedule is approaching and less than a week away, it is generally advised
decrease training load and increase rest days to “at least two per week, plus one day of active rest. However, if there are still at least
two months for the first test, the ideal is to rest one day a week and have a high workload or intensity the rest of the days«, recommends the expert.

Prior physical review

If the person has never played sports and is going to start training, it is recommended to check if everything is in order with a
stress testeither. For the
active people and that they have been training all their lives, when they are over forty years old, it is also advisable to do at least one annual stress test to assess if everything is going correctly.

Hydration

According to experts, hydration is
Vital importance, especially for the coming months, due to environmental conditions. However, there are sports in which fluid intake is limited because in some cases it may not be accessible, such as swimming or triathlon, so athletes will only be able to hydrate after the Test.

As for the rest, the
collaborating professor at the UOC explains that there is an internal battle in the scientific bibliography, in which it is discussed what is the best technique of
hydration during physical activity: drink by sensation of thirst or establish a scheduled hydration. “If we drink water because we feel thirsty, the body is telling us that a state of dehydration already exists, which must be avoided because it compromises health and sports performance. However, by hydrating with an already established program, you can fall into a state of overhydration, which could also affect your health and sports performance, "adds the expert.

In any case, as explained
Maria Jose Rodriguezzcollaborating professor of Biology and physiology applied to sport on the university master's degree in Nutrition in Physical Activity and Sport and the university master's degree in Nutrition and Health at the UOC, in general terms
it is recommended to drink between 400 and 600 milliliters of water an hour or two before the test to prepare the body for the competition. And, if possible, “during exercise it is necessary to replenish lost fluid by drinking small amounts of water or sports drinks at regular intervals of time. In addition, once the sport is over, it is
essential to rehydrate the body as soon as possible by ingesting liquids in sufficient quantities without causing a nuisance“, indicates.

In this post-test hydration, it is a good option to use
water gels cold microfiltered seawater, which
provide minerals and trace elements that rehydrate the body, provide the minerals lost during exertion and help restore the lost balance of the body. "In fact, a recent study by our research group confirms that the
sea ​​water consumption it generates a proinflammatory response that could contribute to a better post-exercise recovery«, affirms Aragón, also a professor at the University of Granada, where he has carried out this research.

Food in the training period

According to the expert, it is
necessary to feed well before, during and even after the test, since "even when
finished physical exercise, the muscle continues to consume energy and blood glucose levels continue to decrease for at least twelve hours, although the maximum consumption is between the first thirty minutes and two hours after activity. For this reason, it is important to also eat right after the test, in order to replenish glucose levels«.

But
What should you eat during the months in which you train? In general, a balanced diet and adequate rest are enough to replenish glycogen levels, because it is an efficient system.

Food the days before the test

In strenuous exercises, the levels of
glycogenso what is known as
carb loading, “in which large amounts of complex carbohydrates (such as those found in pasta, legumes, grains, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and corn) are ingested during the three days prior to the test,” says Rodríguez. To compensate for the increase in carbohydrates, it is recommended
decrease fat intake and reduce the amount of calories ingested, except in the case of diabetes, where it is not advisable to follow this type of diet without consulting a specialist.

Food during the test

To increase performance during the test, it is advisable to consume, among
thirty and fifty minutes before the competitioncarbohydrates that do not inhibit lipid metabolism —
like fructose— to increase blood glucose levels without affecting insulin levels and thus have available energy and lengthen the time of glycogen depletion, advises Rodríguez.

Furthermore, it is
important eat small amounts of energy foods to maintain blood glucose levels, since, despite prior preparation,
levels are running out, since these are tests of long duration and intensity. Once the test is over, you have to replenish your glycogen levels by going back to doing a
high carbohydrate diet the days after the event.

Don't forget to rest

Along with a good diet, it is important to rest adequately on training and race days, since, while we sleep, especially in the first few hours, deep sleep occurs and "hormones such as growth hormones are released, which allow us to repair cells and regenerate energy levels”, recalls the collaborating professor at the UOC.

How to face the test according to the chronotype

To accommodate the schedule
competition that the federation has stipulated, the experts recommend taking into account our chronotype, that is, the natural predisposition that each person has to experience energy peaks or moments of rest depending on the time of day. For people who are of a morning chronotype and have a night competition, Aragón recommends doing «a
good nap of at least an hour, so that their alertness lasts during the afternoon and at night«. As for the evening chronotypes that usually wake up late, to compete in a race early in the day it is recommended that one week before the competition they go to bed at least two hours earlier than normal and that they try to get up at least two hours before.

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