Gaelforce West is one the most iconic races in Ireland with running (or walking) kayaking, cycling and a last sprint (or hobble). The next race is on the 24th of June and you are hopefully well in training. fairly fit, this is a good time to kick it up a gear and get ready for an incredible day.
Training is crucial – do talk to anyone who has already completed Gaelforce West and see what you need to put in – don’t be tempted to turn up on the day and just go for it, especially if this is your first time. The race can be completed in 3.5 hours but it usually takes about 6.5 and for some people it will be 8 hours so you do need to be fit and well-prepared.
And don’t just look at training. Learning to fuel your body for the race will make all the difference. You do need to look at what you eat in the months coming up to the race to make sure your body is ready to go on the day. It’s not about having some perfect clean-eating, all protein, no-fun plan but about getting some of the key nutrients in to help you train, recover and build your muscles as well as your fitness for the big day.
Protein is always big news when it comes to fitness but you don’t need to live on it. Training will help you to build the muscles you need. You make little tears in your muscles as you train and eating protein helps to repair these tears and will add extra muscle at the same time. It’s best to get some protein at every meal – but a quarter of your plate or meal is enough. Try an egg at breakfast; tuna at lunch and chicken at dinner. Snacking with protein just after training may also help to increase the amount of muscle you make. Skimmed milk is a good source of protein or you can snack on ready-to eat protein like John West no-drain tuna or salmon infusions.
Carbs are the fuel that your body likes to run (or even briskly walk) on. Again, you don’t need huge amounts so aim to have carbs like pasta, wholegrains or potatoes, make up about ¼ of your plate at meals. You can add extra carbs as snacks as your training builds. Be careful not to start with adding lots of carbs – until you are really up and running they will only add extra weight. Let your appetite be your guide – you will get hungrier as you do more. Good carb snacks include yoghurt with fruit; banana and a glass of milk; small sandwich with chicken or tuna; handful of dried fruit. Eating something with carbs about 2 hours before you train can also help you to do more.
Don’t forget fruit and vegetables. Repairing and growing muscles needs more than just protein. Vitamin C is important to help build collagen; and muscles also benefit from a range of minerals. Up to ½ of your lunch and dinner needs to be salad or vegetables.
Looking for easy ways to add protein & carbs? Try John West Creations Salmon with Wild Rice, Honey & Ginger or Tuna with Wild Rice & Lentils, Indian-Style.
Consultant Nutritionist - MSc., BSc., MINDI
Sarah has a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College and a Masters in European Food Regulation.
She runs a food and nutrition consultancy giving one-to-one advice on nutrition and diet as well as working with some of Ireland's leading food companies.