Nutrition: a powerful differentiator for sports performance
There’s something about the number 13 that puts a tiny shadow of doubt in my mind!
I’m not into superstition (unless it’s Stevie Wonder) and I’m not worried about black cats, or breaking mirrors or walking under ladders, but the number 13 just makes me pause.
So, when Beat the Couch came around for the thirteenth time, I was tempted to go straight from Season 12 to 14.
My biggest fear is my couch on wheels getting loose on race day.
I have visions of it flying down a slope and taking out some of my runners or unsuspecting members of the public.
I mean, we do have safety measures in place, it’s basically impossible for it to happen, but that doesn’t stop me fretting about it at 3am!
Until now, the only bad luck we’ve ever experienced was the season when it poured with rain on race day — and everyone was in white shirts.
It was a little chilly too, so our official photos were full of visible nipples.
It took me four hours to remove them all on Photoshop.
At one stage Chloe asked me what I was doing and I just didn’t have the words to explain!
I went to bed that night laughing at the diversity of work my job brings through the door.
Some days it’s awfully serious around here and other days …. not so much.
Anyway, to ward off the worries we’re going with a “Season 13 — Unlucky for None” approach.
Intro night is on Thursday and we’re giving out 13 prizes at random.
Some of them will be tiny, some of them will be exciting … you’ll just have to wait and see.
If you’re planning on joining us, or are not sure exactly what it’s all about, then have a look at the details online — everything’s at natural.bm.
We have a relentless optimistic mindset over here which has been hugely successful for our runners.
Having a positive mental attitude is just so important when it comes to having the grit to succeed.
There’s no doubt there’s an element of luck when it comes to sports performance.
Injuries, genetics and even the time of year you are born can be at play.
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell notes that the majority of successful athletes were old for their year in school.
Gladwell found that in childhood, being 11 months younger than a counterpart makes an awful lot of difference academically and socially. It also makes a difference when it comes to sports performance.
Gladwell argues that older children often perform better because of their age and then receive an increased amount of praise and attention.
In turn, this praise and attention leads to accelerated development, triggering a cycle that’s more likely to lead to success.
If that seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy, it doesn’t have to be.
There are always outliers (hence the title) and there always will be things you can do to counter a disadvantage and optimise your chances of success.
The positive outlook I mentioned is important for sure.
During a race or a workout there will always be moments when you want to stop; you just have to want to not stop more!
Ditching the negative voice in your head is crucial.
The other major factor? Your nutrition.
Over and above your training, how you choose to fuel your body is probably the most powerful differentiator for sports performance.
Whether you are a beginner or a more seasoned athlete, it has an absolutely massive impact on energy, injury prevention and recovery.
Even better, it’s got nothing to do with luck and is 100 per cent within your control.
Sure, you might get tempted by junk every now and then but, 1) if it really is occasional, then it’s probably OK and 2) once you make the connection between your nutrition and improved performance, you’ll stop wanting the junk anyway.
Ironically though, some of the worst diets I’ve ever assessed have been from athletes. We’ve all been raised with a “calories in, calories out” mindset which means that we generally think that it doesn’t matter what we eat so long as we burn it off.
I can’t explain how misleading that approach is. It may work for a while in terms of general body composition, but it always backfires eventually, not to mention what it does in terms of excessive inflammation and a negative impact on disease risk, mood and digestion.
That’s why during Beat the Couch we provide everyone with a baseline dietary plan too. With great nutrition support and the best trainers in the business (totally biased I know!) we’ll get you to the finish line. Not because you got lucky, but because you’ve got us.
Next week, I’ll be back with some tips for quick and easy snacks around workouts. I’ll give you some fast dinner ideas, too. If you have any questions around sports nutrition and your workouts, let me know! I’m here to help.
•Catherine Burns is a qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, on Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda
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