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We are delighted to welcome the Surrey Human Performance Institute on board as a Nutrition Partner for the Mercer Surrey Half Marathon. The award-winning event takes place on 8 March 2020. ENTER NOW!

Surrey Human Performance Institute (SHPI) is a Sports and Exercise Sciences facility based at Surrey Sports Park. Nutrition being a key discipline of performance is a specialist service they offer to all levels of athletes. Whether you are simply looking to generally improve your health or significantly boost your performance to attain a PB, SHPI can certainly assist you with your goals by educating you on how to properly fuel your body.

With the festive season well and truly upon us, what better time for SPHI to offer up some nutritional advice to help you to stay on track with your training?

If a healthy portion of roast potatoes are on the menu for your Christmas dinner, don’t feel guilty about it. Carbohydrate is a limited store within the body (enough to fuel around 60-90 minutes of exercise) and is important for exercise capacity. Low carbohydrate diets reduce the stores of muscle glycogen (glucose is stored within the muscle and liver as glycogen). Research has highlighted that when muscle glycogen is depleted we experience fatigue. Therefore:

Low muscle glycogen stores = experiencing fatigue earlier

Utilising a high carbohydrate (8 g/kg/day) diet has been found to not only increase exercise capacity but also improve running economy. Hooray!

Practical Suggestions: How to eat on a training day.

The alarm clock goes off on a fresh blue-skied wintery morning, you’ve got a busy day ahead with the in-laws but you think you can squeeze a run in later. 🥳

Preparation for this run starts at breakfast. To get the most from your training you need to think about supplying the body with carbohydrates to provide energy stores to utilise during exercise. Therefore breakfast and lunch need to be based on starchy carbohydrates, for example, porridge along with some fruit for breakfast and a pasta dish for lunch.

Now you have set your body up nicely in the first half of the day but you are feeling peckish towards the end of the day (we all know the biscuit tin and a cup of tea is our first thought). However, we can use this to our advantage to get a bit more carbohydrates into the body, try to think of malt loaf, bagels or other snacks lower in fat and protein but with slightly quicker glucose release than the oats from breakfast. If this snack is within 90 minutes of your run you want to be thinking of high GI, quick-release energy. Orange juice or Jaffa cakes are a good shout here. And with this, you are ready to hit the road!

Q: “What about during my run?”

A: Most runs during half marathon training are under the 60 – 90-minute mark. Therefore the glycogen stores in your body are well equipped to deal with this – leaving you to focus on putting one foot in front of the other (as long as you are fuelling yourself correctly throughout the day).

Tailored Nutrition Advice: What works best for me?

An hour-long consultation (£35) with one of their nutritionists involves a food diary analysis, discussion of personal goals and macronutrient profiles, advice on dietary adjustments for health and/or performance, tailored lifestyle advice and bespoke lifestyle advice. Subsequent consultations are then just £20.

Alternatively, their full Nutrition Package (£109) involves a restricted body composition profile (full profile +£15), resting metabolic rate (assess number of calories burned at rest over 24hrs) and consultation.