The off season and winter training period provides a break from competition and the travel that comes with it. This allows me a little more time to focus on my nutrition meaning that I am less reliant on the sports nutrition products that I use during racing to fill the gaps in my diet, such as bars, gels and energy drinks. I am able to put more emphasis on natural, nutrient dense foods to power my training. I am also able to implement good recovery strategies like eating straight after sessions and making sure I have regular protein ‘hits’ throughout the day as my routine is more consistent.
It is really important for me to stay on top of my nutrition, especially during the winter months when training days are long, the weather in the UK can be tough and everyone around me seems to be getting struck down by the flu. It is at this time of year that I look to supplements to provide a little extra dietary support. I take iron first thing before breakfast which I eat before my morning run. Breakfast normally consists of porridge with yoghurt, an apple and a glass of milk. After breakfast I take probiotics, omega 3, and a multivitamin. During the winter months I also introduce vitamin D into my supplement regime to ensure I avoid any deficiencies as I spend less time training in the daylight hours. During periods of intense training, I also increase the amount of omega 3 EPA I take to help with inflammation and aid my recovery.
I also have a stand-by illness protocol when there's any signs of the sniffles or for times when my immune system needs a boost, consisting of vitamin C as well as zinc twice daily until I have recovered. Although it may seem a little extreme, a period of illness can reduce the amount of time I spend in training which can set me back in the run up to competition.
Despite being out of season it is possible to have random ‘out of competition’ drugs tests. As a result it is extremely important to me as an athlete that everything I take is compliant with anti-doping rules and regulations. To reduce the risk of an inadvertent failed drugs test I make sure that any supplement I take carries the Informed-Sport logo, and is of the very highest quality.