Diet for Training and Competition


I really hesitated to use the word “diet” in the title of this message because the last thing we want is competitive athletes trying to be on a diet.

Our goal as coaches and as a club is to provide our athletes the best environment possible so that they can achieve their best without hindrance. We should try to create the “perfect” environment for that to happen. Obviously, perfection cannot be achieved, but if we strive for perfection we can achieve excellence. (Vince Lombardi said that a little differently.)

Just like we ask our athletes to “control the controllables” on race day, we as parents and coaches should try to control the controllables at practice and at home. Consistent sleep, no digital media an hour before bedtime, adequate water consumption, routine exercise, consistent focused stretching if needed for those with flexibility issues, calorie supplements for those that are a bit thin, proper foot ware, peace and harmony in the household J. These are all things we can strive for to create an environment where our athletes are not distracted (or harmed), and can achieve their best.

There are thousands of things we cannot control in our kid’s lives. However, we can control the food we purchase and put on the table in front of them. And if they buy into this concept, (Coach Doug said) we can even influence what they eat when we aren’t watching.

What we want is for our athletes to consume high quality calories and a balance of proteins and minerals so that they perform at a high level. We want to cut out the junk food, pop, and high sugar diets that are creating a generation of obese kids heading for a lifetime of dialysis.

Attached to this note is a description of a training diet that was borrowed from the U.S. Olympic Team – Thank you Coach Mike. Please consider using this as a guideline for your athlete’s diet. Obviously, this was written for adult athletes. Youth athletes have different dietary needs and you should adjust to accommodate for them. I am not a dietician and hesitate to even go there, perhaps consult with your child’s doctor the next time they have a physical.

The slides created a decent debate among our coaching staff. No resource is perfect. While one might question the inclusion of the Hamburger Helper photo (I did), athletes do need more sodium than sedentary adults. “Sports drinks” created another controversy…read the labels and get a high quality drink. Gatorade (for example) is believed to be too sugary. Study and make good choices. Also recognize that youth athlete dietary needs and adult cheer leader needs are different.

Add to this a good multi-vitamin (daily), fish oil, B12, and a magnesium supplement (400mg for an adult) and your athlete should have the fuel to perform at a high level.

Magnesium rich foods – Flax Seed, SunFlower seeds, nagiri tofu, Spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, green beans, pumpkin seeds and beans like pinto, kidney, Lima and navy beans.

Recommended homemade sports drink from Coach Mike – Baking Soda dissolved in water (it’s an alkaline that when ingested…dissolves built up lactic acid in muscles and helps you workout longer without the burn) **for correct quantity, mix .01oz for every 2.2lbs of body weight (ex: Child weighs 100lbs {100/2.2*.01}= 1/2oz into 12oz of cold water. Add a little lemon juice to improve flavor. Also can be used as a pre-race drink 30-40 minutes before start of event.

BTW our Cross Country athletes are in a moderate phase of training right now.

Doug McDowell
Waza Track Club Head Coach & Directory of Coaching


The Athlete’s Plates (U.S. Olympic Team)