Experienced swimmer or not, 14km is a long way to swim. Next month, however, many a hardy soul will be peeling on wetsuits (or swimming in skins…even more hardy!) and jumping gleefully into the Thames to set off on the notorious Henley Swim Thames Marathon, a unique event in the open water swim calendar.
The Thames Marathon is the ultimate goal for many water lovers and there is no doubt there is something charismatic about the adventure of pre-training, the event itself and the ensuing recovery period. No matter what your level or experience, preparation is definitely the key ingredient.
Careful thought about training and nutrition is imperative and there is such a fine line between achieving goals and running out of steam over the distance. Correct fuelling is essential and if neglected, the last few miles may be painful!
The main nutrients used to power swimmers over the distance are carbohydrate and fat, with the relative contribution of each depending upon factors such as training status and pace. Carbohydrate is required not only to fuel exercise, but also to restore muscle and liver glycogen levels during recovery.
The week before
The taper period is always met with mixed feelings of joy, frustration and mild panic. However, now is not the time to lose focus. Adequate fuelling the week before the swim is vital, as poorly fuelled muscles cause needless fatigue. The aim of pre-race nutrition is to optimise fuel stores (muscle glycogen) and hydration status. Reducing training load while consuming a high carbohydrate diet (5-8g/kg.bw per day) for 2 days before the race will ensure muscle glycogen levels will be replenished ready for racing. Putting on some weight in this phase is common. Every gram of glycogen stored, holds 3 grams of water, however, don’t be too concerned, this stored fuel will help power you through your race.
My top tips
In the next few weeks, I will be writing a blog about your recovery focusing on the 3 R’s – Rehydration, Refuelling and Rebuilding. Good luck in you last month of training.
Guest blogger Alex Cook BSc P.g.Dip RD Is lead performance nutritionist for Henley Swim nutrition partners DUPL, She helps beginners to advanced athletes achieve positive change in their day-to-day lives and excel in their sports including running, swimming & cycling. You can get 1:1 nutrition advice from Alex at www.dupl.me