While there are numerous steps that you can (and should) take to optimize athletic performance, here are a couple of super easy ones. Start with these right away and you’ll experience noticeably rapid improvement in your endurance.
1) Stay properly hydrated all day long – With approximately 60% of your body being comprised of water, it goes without saying that it’s vitally important to maintain optimal hydration status all day long. Unfortunately, a lot of people—perhaps you?—live in a state of perpetual dehydration, and that negatively affects athletic performance and overall health. Starting now, gradually increase your fluid intake—primarily from pure, clean water—so that the total number of ounces you’re drinking on a daily basis is equal to half your body weight in pounds (e.g. 180-lb athlete should consume 90 ounces of fluids daily, in addition to what is being consumed during exercise). During exercise, drink 18-25 ounces per hour, and up to 28 ounces per hour during hot weather.
2) Fuel lean – It’s interesting to know how many calories you’re burning every hour during exercise; however, that amount isn’t really a factor in terms of how many calories your body can accept in return from your fuel donation. The goal of caloric intake is to consume the least amount necessary to maintain energy levels where you want them to be hour after hour. For the majority of athletes, this represents an intake of 120-200 calories per hour. And if you find that’s not quite enough calories, that’s an easy fix—you simply consume a few more.
3) Ditch the sugar – Some fuels are comprised of a combination of simple sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose etc.), formulated under the premise that your body will be able to produce more energy on a per-minute basis using multiple carbohydrate sources. Remember, though, that the subjects in those “multi-carb” studies were exercising at such low intensities—a recovery pace, at best—that they could probably consume anything. Choose complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin), such as in Hammer Nutrition’s Hammer Gel, HEED, or Perpetuem, instead. Unlike simple sugars, complex carbs provide steady, long-lasting energy and cause no stomach issues even at high intensity efforts.
4) Don’t eat for 3 hours prior to your workouts and races – By refraining from consuming any calories in the 3-hour period prior to your workouts and races, you put your body in the ideal physiological state to use its finite stores of muscle glycogen most efficiently, while also utilizing the vast amount of calories from body fat stores more effectively. Adopt this practice in all your workouts—even the early morning ones—and you’ll extend your endurance like never before.
5) “Refill the tank” ASAP after all your workouts – Your body wants to reward you for the efforts you made in training, strengthening the immune system, rebuilding muscle tissue stronger, and storing more minutes of readily available fuel in the muscles. All you have to do to enjoy all of these endurance-enhancing benefits is supply your body with the materials it needs right away—ideally within the first 30 minutes after exercise—meaning complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein such as found in Recoverite.