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Coaching Advice

Some useful advice in regards to diet, race preperation and other strategies to give you the edge!

NUTRITION

Eat right, Drink well - Maximise Performance

Eating the right foods and drinking the correct fluids is now a big part of sport. The right diet can improve performance and help the body recover from exercise – it also makes you feel livelier and prevents illnesses.

What's in a healthy diet?

It's not just something you do before or after training. A healthier diet overall will help both on and off the track/ sports field.

The more you exercise, the more energy you will need.

Although carbohydrates like bread or pasta are the best providers of energy, a balanced diet is recommended.

Your diet should be BALANCED in roughly the following quantities:

Carbohydrate

60% of diet

Fat

25% of diet

Protein

15% of diet

A balanced diet contains:

Plenty of carbohydrates such as bread, rice, noodles, cereals, potatoes and pasta
Lots of fruit and vegetables (ideally five portions a day)
Protein in the form of meat, chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs and nuts
A limited amount of fatty and sugary foods such as sweets and crisps
Carbohydrates are rich with starch which is easily turned into energy by the body.

Protein builds healthy muscles which are essential for growth and help avoid injury.

And fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals which help repair the body and keep it healthy.

Carbohydrates

Foods high in carbohydrates provide you with the energy your muscles need and are the basis of a winning diet.

Healthy carbohydrates - whole grains, etc as these contain the nutrients your body requires. Sugary snacks provide carbohydrate but do not contain as many nutrients.

Best sources of high carbohydrate foods are:

breads, cereals, pasta (pasta with tomato based sauce is better than creamy sauces), rice, potato, and fruit

The pre-training/competition meal provides a final opportunity to top up fuel and fluid levels. Your last meal should leave you feeling comfortable, not full and not hungry.

A high-carbohydrate, low-fat meal or snack is the perfect choice for before your event or game. If you consume a bigger meal, have it 3-4 hours before you compete, and a light snack can be 1-2 hours before your warm-up. If you are nervous before you compete, try a liquid meal instead of something solid.

Find your own routine that you are happy with, this will take time and practice.

Examples of good pre-training/competition meals:

Breakfast cereal + low-fat milk + fresh/canned fruit (in own juice is better than syrup)
Muffins or crumpets + jam/honey
Pancakes + syrup
Toast + baked beans or spaghetti
Rolls or sandwiches with banana filling
Fruit salad + low-fat yoghurt
Pasta + tomato based sauce
Baked potato + low-fat filling
Sports bars or cereal bars + sports drink
Fruit smoothie (low-fat milk + fruit + low-fat yoghurt/ice cream)
Chocolate

Try to avoid excess chocolate – although you are burning up loads of energy so it is a useful product
Do not eat chocolate prior to training or competition as it contains some fat which is hard to break down into energy quickly and can sometimes "sit" on your stomach. Instead use chocolate as a treat after competition or training to replenish your energy stores ready for the next day
Best chocolate bars are those with the lowest fat contents
Fast Foods or "Junk Foods"

Again you are burning up loads of energy so 1 visit or treat per week to McDonalds , Fish and Chip Shop or Takeaway is not going to you any harm
These foods do provide carbohydrates but also contain too much fat which is hard to translate into energy
When you go to such places – Consider the following - 2 Regular burgers and a milk shake provide less fat and more carbohydrate than does a double decker with fries
Pizzas – if you like pizza – the best ones are those with a thicker base – and try to avoid pizzas with triple cheese, meat feast etc. Better flavours are ham and pineapple, tuna or vegetable
Bread and Jam/peanut butter are better than crisps, biscuits and chocolate as snacks
5 Portions of Fruit and Veg per Day

Try to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg every day
Fruit and Veg provide carbohydrates as well as well as most of the vitamins and minerals you require
A glass of fresh orange juice (or any fruit juice) provides 1 portion
Have a banana or apple at break time rather than a packet of crisps
Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins - what are they?

Vitamins are organic compounds that help regulate fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolism in the body. They cannot be made by the body and have to be provided by the food we eat - fortunately we only need tiny amounts of these vitamins.

Vitamins are not an energy source, but they play a vital role in releasing the energy stored in the other foods we eat. In addition, our enzyme, nervous, hormonal and immune systems are dependent on vitamins for regulation and control. Because of this vitamins are essential for good health, wellbeing and growth.

Minerals - what are they?

Minerals are inorganic elements that have many roles in the body's functioning. Apart from their more well-known roles in the formation of strong bones and teeth, they also help to control the nervous system, fluid balance in tissues, muscle contractions, some hormonal functions and enzyme secretion.

Minerals are as essential as vitamins and, just like most vitamins, they cannot be made in the body. All our bodies' mineral needs have to be supplied from our diets.

A Balanced diet will provide you with all you require
Calcium is important to the young athlete as it aids bone growth and strength
How can you daily calcium requirements be achieved?

1 pint of low fat milk per day provides virtually all the amount of calcium required
1 ounce of cheese or one pot low fat yoghurt provides 1/3 as much calcium as a pint of milk
Also – try – baked beans, green leafy veg or dried apricots
Iron is another crucial mineral especially for girls – How can you daily requirements be achieved?

Include some red meat in your diet
Breakfast cereals are usually fortified with iron
Other good providers are oily fish, dried fruit, wholegrain cereals (shredded wheat) nuts, green leafy veg
Try to include some Vitamin C with each meal – this improves absorption of iron into the body – small glass of orange or grapefruit juice does the trick
Proteins

Protein rebuilds your muscles and tissues after exercise

Eat plenty of chicken, fish, eggs and nuts in your diet – nuts after training are great (but not salty)
Kelly Holmes eats a bag of cashew nuts after training!
Proteins are better after training as they do not provide a lot of energy – instead they help to rebuild damaged muscles tissues which occur every time we train/compete
HYDRATION - YOU ARE WHAT YOU DRINK!!

Did you know?

The body can survive for several weeks without food - but can only survive a couple of days without water

Why is water so important?

It is an essential nutrient within which the various actions, reactions and interactions of the bodily structure and function occur
Without water our bodies cannot therefore operate efficiently
In sport, where our bodies are under even more stress than normal everyday life -water becomes even more important
Basic Guidance

Drink at least 2 litres of water per day
Drink often
Always carry a water bottle with you and drink from it regularly
Do not wait until you feel thirsty - it is too late - you are then playing catch up
Drinking small amounts regularly is probably better for sport as drinking too much just before or during training/racing may cause "stitches" or stomach cramps to occur
Drink at least ½ litre within 1 hour of training or racing


What should I Drink?

Water is best
Keep tea/coffee to a minimum as they are a diuretic and only act to dehydrate you
Fizzy drinks (e.g. coke) are not too good particularly prior to or during training as they may react badly in your stomach to exercise making it uncomfortable - also many such drinks contain caffeine - a diuretic leading to dehydration
Sports energy drinks (non fizzy). These are ok as they contain carbohydrate and help to refuel our bodies quickly e.g. gatorade or lucozade sport (ensure non fizzy types). Drinks called isotonic are more advisable. Drink these during training or just after for rehydration and energy rebuilding
You can make your own sport drink (cheaper!) - try a weak orange squash with a pinch of salt added (download the information sheet below for more details)
DO NOT SHARE DRINKS BOTTLES
DO NOT RE-USE BOTTLED WATER BOTTLES
DO NOT GO HOME WITH YOUR DRINKS BOTTLE STILL FULL

The Warm Up and Warm Down - Why do them?

The warm-up will make sure that your body is ready to stretch and perform
There are many components that do not have a good supply of blood and oxygen whilst you are traveling - this might sound obvious, but most sports ignore warm-up
By getting your heart rate from its resting of around 60 beats per minute (bpm) to around 120, and by jogging, you start to get blood supplied in quantity to the parts that will need it
Whilst traveling in a car/bus etc, you are sitting and limbs and joints will have the blood shaken to your extremities, whilst the heart rate lowers, ensuring that the supply of blood to the extremities is poor. If you stretch after traveling, you will be asking for trouble
After a training session, you will have built up chemicals in your muscles as well as possibly collection a number of microscopic muscle strains and tears
A warm-down simply raises your breathing without overstraining your muscles and increases the concentration of oxygen within the blood, whilst gently washing out chemicals (such as lactic acid) from your muscles
This gentle "internal washing" could be visualised as somewhat similar to a shower after a Rugby Match . . . . it won't mend a broken leg, but it will take away the mud that could cause an infection or make your skin uncomfortable. It's the best you can do and injuries will show themselves and can be treated
I have seen many people treated for sports injuries at Athletics meetings by trained professionals. Their advice after treatment, despite the discomfort factor, is to "warm down as well as you can" if the athlete had been competing so that muscle soreness does not add to the injury
David Croxall

The Warm Up and Warm Down - Why do them?

The warm-up will make sure that your body is ready to stretch and perform
There are many components that do not have a good supply of blood and oxygen whilst you are traveling - this might sound obvious, but most sports ignore warm-up
By getting your heart rate from its resting of around 60 beats per minute (bpm) to around 120, and by jogging, you start to get blood supplied in quantity to the parts that will need it
Whilst traveling in a car/bus etc, you are sitting and limbs and joints will have the blood shaken to your extremities, whilst the heart rate lowers, ensuring that the supply of blood to the extremities is poor. If you stretch after traveling, you will be asking for trouble

After a training session, you will have built up chemicals in your muscles as well as possibly collection a number of microscopic muscle strains and tears
A warm-down simply raises your breathing without overstraining your muscles and increases the concentration of oxygen within the blood, whilst gently washing out chemicals (such as lactic acid) from your muscles
This gentle "internal washing" could be visualised as somewhat similar to a shower after a Rugby Match . . . . it won't mend a broken leg, but it will take away the mud that could cause an infection or make your skin uncomfortable. It's the best you can do and injuries will show themselves and can be treated

I have seen many people treated for sports injuries at Athletics meetings by trained professionals. Their advice after treatment, despite the discomfort factor, is to "warm down as well as you can" if the athlete had been competing so that muscle soreness does not add to the injury

David Croxall

Race Preparation

Fail to prepare - prepare to fail!

Some thoughts about race preparation:

It is not logical that after putting in all your hard training you jeopardise your race performance with poor race preparation. Check out the following, and see if any bells ring!

Do you ease back enough in your training for a race?

Ease the intensity and duration of any running after Wednesday – partly my job as coach!
Day before a race should be a total rest day
Do you take into account the level of exercise or games that you play at school - plus your training - in your run up to an important race?

Do you get to the race venue in good time to warm up?

If it's an early race start do you get up early enough to eat breakfast at least three hours before the race? When you do have a meal is it the right kind of food or are you eating food that is hard to digest?

Do you keep hydrated on the way to the race - by having a drinking bottle in the car with you?

Do you take enough clothing and shoes to accommodate any and all race and weather conditions? Try not to race in new shoes or clothing that has not been worn before. It is handy to walk the course in an old pair of studs and keep your racing pair dry.

For cross country races - if you know the course, it is not necessary to walk all of it, especially if it is very hilly - just walking a tough hilly course can sometimes take the edge off your performance. If you do not know the course and arrive late, reconnoitre the back section of the race route as a priority.

Do you have a set routine and warm up procedure? Or do you just do a twirl of the arms and lean against the nearest tree for a quick stretch?

Keep warm and find a nice quiet area for your pre-race warm up routine. Make sure that you have raised your body temperature sufficiently with easy running first and then some quicker short strides close to race start.

You must acclimatise your body to the speed it will be performing from the start of the race.

Tactics:

For races over 200m plan your tactics with several options - depending on how the race develops. Sectionalise the course in your mind - and congratulate yourself in the race, as you run through each section.

Distance Races:

Plan your tactics before the race and have 2/3 options to combat what your competitors may do. Try hard not to become too dispirited if you get stitch or are passed by another runner. All athletes at some time go through a bad patch in a race - don't imagine it is only you who are finding the going tough.

Try hard not to set off too fast, learn from previous races. Although it is important to set off well and get a good position, be realistic in your judgment.

Maintain concentration throughout – maintain a good running style – do not let your arms come across your body – try to run "tall" and like a sprinter (in terms of technique) as much as possible

Sprints:

Sprinters need to concentrate and explode from the gun. Maintain running style throughout the race. Concentrate on running relaxed even when tired or trying to catch another athlete – if you are not relaxed at your shoulders your performance will drop off.

Specific Warm Up Routine

Should last 20-30 minutes
5-10 mins gentle jogging
Full Body mobility exercises (arms, neck, hips, ankles) – 5 mins
Sprint drills – 15 mins – start slow
Strides – 2 x 40m
Sprinters – 2 x 50m sprints @ 50-60% and 4 x 30m sprints @ 80%
Long Distance – 2 x 200 @ race speed and 4 x 30m at sprint speed
If your competitors are not warming up - DO NOT FEEL EMBARRASSED WARMING UP – YOU MUST WARM UP – Science shows us that we cannot run fast unless our bodies have prepared correctly. To give yourself the best chance on the day please warm up as described – people who laugh or stair at you are not worth worrying about – Have the last laugh!

Do not engage in conversations with competitors about their best times etc. – this can be off putting – stay calm, focus on yourself only – do not worry and give your best

In conclusion:

Do not feel to be under any pressure to do well in your racing by anyone other than yourself – you are doing this for yourself. Unless you find your racing fun and exciting you will not stay in the sport long. If you don't do as well as you wanted to, always remember there are many more races to come, and with the right race preparation and some good training behind you - who knows!

David Croxall

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