Recently I was fortunate to be one of only nine amateur athletes to be selected from a field of over 900 applicants to take part in Science in Sport’s (SiS) ‘Winter Academy’. The idea behind the scheme is to take a handful of us amateurs and give us the opportunity to both work with nutritionists and product experts at SiS, as well as sample some of their different products to see how they work for us.
I was particularly interested to take part in the Winter Academy as I was unsure what sort of fueling / recovery strategy I should be adopting during winter training, where the individual sessions are perhaps not so intense and it’s also potentially a lot easier to put on unnecessary weight by over-eating or being too generous with carb gels etc.
The Winter Academy kicked-off this week with a call with Tim Lawson, one of the leading lights at Science in Sport. We talked about my goals for 2013 (moving up to half-ironman distance racing while still trying to get a place on the ’13 GB Age Group squad for the London-based world champs), my average training week for this time of year and also my current recovery / fueling / eating habits.
I didn’t realize exactly who Tim was until after our call, but it was clear straight away that the guy knows his stuff when it comes to fueling and recovery for endurance sports. But I was equally impressed with Tim’s advice around general eating habits and natural sources of many of the good things found in SiS’s products.
We talked about the use of L-Carnitine to help promote fat burning during longer low-intensity sessions; we talked about my fears about over-fueling and when to / not to take protein shakes. We also talked about things like whether you should exercise on in fasted state (i.e. early morning runs or swims without breakfast) and when to look at different types of supplements.
Here’s just a small sample of the things we discussed:
• Exercising fasted – in Tim’s opinion, not a bad thing for an endurance athlete, but should be mixed up with sessions where you are fully fueled, and must be followed by an effective recovery meal and/or shake
• Protein intake – a good idea after most sessions, just build into your daily calorie intake calculations to avoid effectively over-eating on easier days
• Nitrates – again, a friend of the endurance athlete. SiS makes a nitrate gel which Tim suggests is great in the run-up to an important race; but Tim also advised making sure nitrate-rich foods such as rocket and baby-leaf spinach become a key component of my mealtimes
• Oily fish – don’t be scared of the fat, oily fish at least a couple of times a week will help keep the body healthy and aid recovery
Towards the end of our call, Tim said he felt he had a good feel for which of the SiS products would be most beneficial to me in the next few months (the Winter Academy runs through to the end of February 2013), so I’m looking forward to receiving a box of goodies and then chatting with Tim again to make sure I’m taking the right REGO and GO products in the correct portions and at the appropriate times.
Having looked at the SiS online shop (www.scienceinsport.com), I must admit I’d love to try a bit of everything! But we’ll see what arrives in my box and I look forward to posting some updates when I’ve got some initial findings to report.
In the meantime, you can follow the Winter Academy athletes on Twitter - just look for the #SiSWinterAcademy hashtag.