Last weekend I jumped on the train to Aberdeen to deliver a sports nutrition workshop for the Scottish Swimming youth gold squad. 20 young swimmers from 14 clubs across the country attended the 2-day training camp at the Aberdeen sports village.
The camp was centred around the upcoming competition at the Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh in December, so the nutrition workshop was very much performance-based. We discussed race-day routines, night-before preparations, snacking throughout the day, meal timings, hydration and recovery. With youngsters, food choices are often governed by the parents and workshops like this often include family members if delivered at their local clubs. This being a training camp, parents weren’t involved so it was important to make the athletes aware of what they should be asking their parents to buy or prepare for them. Another thing that is always difficult when discussing nutrition is that people like to tell you what they SHOULD be eating as opposed to what they DO eat. This is very true for young athletes, with many of them having a good grasp of that they should eat to fuel their bodies and recover but what they actually do on race-day is often very different. For this reason, regular sports nutrition workshops for young athletes are really important to reinforce the benefits of good food choices and to keep delivering strong messages that the athletes can relate to and remember.
Some of the key take home messages for the swimmers were:
- don’t overeat just because it’s a competition – a competition day is often much shorter in terms of distance swum than training days, so energy intake needs to reflect this
- stick to regular food choices, not deviating too far from the normal routine just because you are away from home
- prepare ahead when possible but also have contingency plans in case things change
- do what’s best for you and your race, not what your friend/teammate is doing
- top-up energy levels with bananas and cereal bars when time allows and only choose sweets when time is tight between races
- choose milkshakes to recover body after races
If you have a team or club, junior or senior that you feel would benefit from a sports nutrition workshop, then get in touch at [email protected]