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4. Nutrition and Hydration

Blog 4: 10 Nutrition and Hydration

Question time with James Hudson – Sports Nutritionist for Gloucester Rugby Union

After looking at the elements of physical preparation previously, this post in preparation for the Cheltenham Challenge will be looking at nutrition, hydration and preparation for race day. Recently we were joined by James Hudson, James is currently the Sports Nutritionist at Gloucester Rugby working with the first team and academy players. He works closely with the players to ensure that their nutritional intake prepares them for training and competition maximises recovery and optimises body composition. Here are some of his top tips for runners for race day and for training.

1.     What do you think is the biggest mistake you see that athletes make when it comes to their nutrition?

I think the biggest mistake is that runners make unnecessary changes to their nutrition and hydration strategy leading up to race day or competition. Just like your training runs prepare you physically to tolerate the demands of your race distance, training also gives you an opportunity to train your nutrition and hydration. The last thing you want to do is introduce a new supplement or drink on race day. If you have a bad reaction to it, it could ruin your chances of performing at your best. The more prepared you are the better. Plan ahead of time. Plan your training and plan your nutrition and hydration along with it. That way you can test what works best for you. If you’re covering longer distances, research how many water stations will be on your route and what drinks will be available for you.


2.     Do your nutrition demands change with the type of training you do?

Yes absolutely. Its like running a car engine, if you tick over at low revs you won’t burn a lot of fuel. If you rev the engine up, accelerate hard and frequently the demands of the engine increase. The way you train is very similar and you need to account for this with your nutrition. High volume or high intensity sessions will deplete your glycogen stores in your muscles and these energy stores will need to be replaced.

A good rule of thumb: Fuel for the work to be done

This means that planning your training is essential. If you plan to have a high volume or high intensity training session prepare your body for this with a good intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. If it’s an early morning run and you don’t like running on a full stomach then include these food sources in your evening meal the night before.


3.     You mentioned an intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Are Carbs good or bad?

Carbs are good. Especially for runners, athletes and high volume trainers. They are essential in preparing the body for work and aiding in its recovery afterwards. As I mentioned earlier you need to fuel your body appropriately and carbs are very high energy foods. If your training volume for the day will be low then your intake of high energy foods should be low also. Regardless of the type of food you’re eating it needs to be well sourced, minimally processed and fit for your energy demands. A number of people start running to lose weight and get in shape but over compensate for the training they do by over eating. The more objective you are about your training and nutrition the more accurate you will be able to be, and whether your goals are performance or health they will be maximised. There are a number of good apps and tracking tools on the market now that can help you do this.


4.     What are your thoughts on hydration and sports drinks for runners?

Hydration is extremely important but gets over complicated. If you are running distances of 5km or 10km it’s unlikely that you’ll lose too much fluid or salts to need electrolyte drinks on the course. For longer distances, half and full marathons, you may well need supplementary sources of electrolytes and sugars. Most sports drinks and supplements contain different ratios of sugars so you need to plan your race and plan what drinks/gels you will use on the day and practice with them. Your hydration demands vary from person to person and are going to change depending on the climate you run in. A simple way to measure how much fluid you’ve lost is to weigh yourself before you run and again once you’ve competed you’re training. The loss in weight will roughly equate to the volume of water you’ve lost

0.5kg in weight = ½ litre of fluid

Make sure you replace the fluid by slowly drinking the equivalent volume of fluids. The other vital tool to use when monitoring hydration is to monitor your urine. Urine should be pale and you should be passing every few hours.


5.     What would your top recommendations be for race day, pre-race and post race?

It’s a recurring theme here but simply, be prepared. The simple things done consistently well will always lead to better performance than complex or fancy things done poorly at short notice. Prepare for the race before hand. Apply your training, nutrition and hydration strategies during the race. Recover fully afterwards using good sources of food.


If you have any questions for James feel free to contact us. Our next instalment is going to look at recovery and how important it is not just to train hard but to recover well after training too.

If you have any questions about your running training, an injury or any of the information in this post feel free to contact us using the details below. The Cheltenham challenge offer is still active and we’d be happy to discuss any elements of your training with you.

Tel. 01452 595245




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During the next few months we’d love to welcome you to the Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic for a sports massage to help keep you on track during your training for the Cheltenham Challenge. Were based at Reebok Gym Glevum, Unit 12 Quadrant Distribution Centre, Waterwells Buisness Park,  Gloucester, GL2 2RN