Sports

How Olympic Sprinters Get Their Fuel

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It takes years of intense training, discipline, and mental strength for athletes to achieve their Olympic goals. They fully comprehend the importance of having their body and mind running at optimal levels during the competitions. Studies show that genetics play a significant role in one’s athletic ability, but using a sprinter’s routine in preparation for the Olympics is vital.

Training

Olympic sprinters spend a lot of time training to reach their peak physical condition and are put under strenuous training schedules. They spend several hours in the gym working their muscles, participating in cross-training to reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, they vary their training to help improve speed, strength, agility, and endurance. Therefore, they are required to work smartly and develop healthy habits that hinder overtraining and burn-out.

Proper diet and nutrition play essential roles in a sprinter’s performance. During training, they must consume foods rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals and avoid gaining body fat, which affects performance. The sprinter needs to ensure their nutrition is on point to compete at the highest levels – their bodies need the energy for the demanding training routines. Great nutrition involves hydration, consuming a lot of water, but during intense training, sports drinks help them recharge – they help replenish electrolytes lost while training.

Pump up the protein

A sprinter’s diet should include quality protein from fish, eggs, meat, beans, dairy, and nuts. These allow muscles to recover and repair after sprints and resistance drills that cause damage to the muscle fibres. Proteins need to make up for 60 per cent of any sprinter’s calorie intake. They should also consider protein shakes after training sessions to aid in recovery.

Kick the carbs

Sprinters have little use for carbs from potatoes, pasta, bread, cereals, and rice. Their carbs come from fruits and vegetables instead. Dark-coloured carbs such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, leeks, and all types of berries are most preferred.

Carbs are vital because sprint training requires a considerable amount of glycogen. When carbs are broken down, they are stored in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. Sprint training depletes glycogen as it is the only fuel available for use during intense exercise. Hence, it is vital to restock lost glycogen from carbs to enhance repair after the damage has been done.

Game on

When the Olympic Games approach, most athletes are well-prepared and have put in the extra yards beforehand. What you eat as a sprinter before a race makes all the difference. Most athletes cut back on their calorie intake prior because they will either focus on maintaining or losing weight. It also helps to conserve energy before the race.

Pre-race

The night before the race, athletes must cut back on fibre intake and meals high in fat, as these sit heavily in the stomach. It is also recommended that they stick to familiar dishes to ensure their meal does not temper with digestion. Eating local delicacies should be reserved until after the games are finished. Pre-race preparation also involves a proper warm-up. Activities such as reverse lunges or skipping enhance coordination, flexibility and prevent injuries during the race.

Post-race repair

Sprinters have various recovery options, but each racer has to figure out what works best for them. For an event like sprinting, where the body uses everything it has, it is vital to replenish nutrients within 30 minutes of an event. Most athletes do this with nutrient-packed shakes as these are easily digestible. 

Basic recovery techniques such as stretching, cryotherapy, and chiropractic treatments are also recommended. Sprinters must also take time off: for muscles to grow stronger and repair, time off is compulsory. 

Get some quality sleep

Proper sleep is the best strategy for most sprinters when it comes to recovery techniques. Ensuring a good sleep makes it easier for your body to repair and regenerate muscle tissue. Poor sleep leads to an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone that limits the production of human growth. It also alters mental performance components, such as reaction time and judgment, translating to increased injury risks. Athletes need eight to ten hours of quality sleep.

Conclusion

Olympic Games place a lot of pressure on sprinters, and dealing with it requires early preparation. If you are not competing, you could try using the sprinter’s lifestyle to shed fat, become lean and build muscle. Sprinters train 20 to 30 hours a week. Hence, one requires adequate preparation before and after the races for your body to be at its best performance.

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