How to know what (if any) fuel to take for your session

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There’s a number of factors that need to be taken into account. Firstly, the time that you’re going to be training. Obviously if it’s very, very early in the morning, and you need to get it done quite early, you’re probably not going to have time to prepare a meal beforehand. You need to then take into consideration - the duration of that session, how long is that session going to be, and also the intensity of that session.

 Mostly I advocate for sessions up to around 90 minutes that are aerobic, very light sessions, you don’t really need to focus so much on fuelling. Because it’s not really needed for that particular effort, or even that duration. You’ve got natural energy stores that can support that.

How to handle pre-session fuelling

However, if you’re looking at doing a long session, or a quality session. In other words track work, speed work or hill work. You definitely do need to take into consideration how you’re going to be fuelling that session to be able to support your effort. And in that case, I always advocate a pre-training meal that should be high in complex carbohydrates, minimal protein, no fat, no fibre (we recently launched a great product to solve this problem ↠ Pre-Race Meal). So that you don’t impact the digestive system and create GI distress.

 However, if you do not have time to prepare a pre-training meal, based on the fact that you need to consume this around 30-60 minutes before you go out and train. Then you need to take into consideration what you’re going to be consuming during that session.

What to consume during your training session

It can be in the form of any type of carbohydrate fuel, whether it’s in the form of a liquid or a solid, or even something in between. I think it’s just important to make sure that whatever you decide to utilise is going to be convenient.

 If you’re on the track and you’ve got access to a bottle in the form of an isotonic or some kind of hypotonic solution that you consume, that’s fantastic. You can utilise that source of fuelling.

However, if you’re going to be out on the road and you don’t have access to a bottle, you might want to consider taking some gels or some chews with you en route. In order to be able to consume that frequently and provide you sufficient energy for that session.

Don't forget to keep hydrated

Another thing that you do need to take into account is hydration. I generally advocate pre-hydrating. I like to mineral load, and pre-hydrate before a session - we’ll get into that at a later stage - which sets up your hydration status quite nicely for that session.

 However, if you do have access to water en route, whether it’s the tap at a petrol station etc. and you know that you’ve got access to it, that’s also fine. You can hydrate during that session as well, take all that into consideration.

 We’ll talk about how much carbohydrates or how much you should be consuming on an hourly basis during exercise to be able to support specific efforts. I’m going to teach you how to do that as well.

But in the meantime, remember, fuelling is based on duration and intensity of the session. You do need to know that if it’s a very light session, you don’t have to stress so much about fuelling during that training session, you can focus on the recovery. However, if it is a very long or hard session, you do need to look at the fuelling strategy so that it helps you also recover a lot quicker. And is able to support the efforts that you’re going to be putting into those sessions.

In the next video Mark looks at how to work out how many carbohydrates / calories you need to consume.

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