Without a doubt, real food is always the answer. However, consuming adequate calories and nutrition through real food can be difficult for an OCR athlete, as our sport is both aerobically and anaerobically demanding. That's why a proper supplementation protocol can be such a big help. Since OCR training typically consists of long hours of running, intertwined with strength training and metabolic-based workouts, it generates a large demand for power production. Here, I will go through my standard supplementation protocol in order to get the most benefit out of each training session.
• BCAAs (10 grams)
• Carbs (1.5 dates)
• Beetroot powder (such as BeetElite)
If your workout is approaching, and you haven't had an opportunity to eat, I suggest 10 grams of PVL BCAA's pre-workout will be a much better option than a meal or a protein powder it will likely cause less gastrointestinal stress. Include 20-30 grams of carbohydrates, such as 1.5 dates. Add a beetroot supplement if you are looking to aid aerobic performance.
• Protein (40 grams whey)
• Carbs (80 grams)
Given the nature of the sport, OCR athletes require more protein than your typical endurance athlete. Enter the need for a quality whey protein powder - new research has shown that taking 40 grams of whey protein after resistance training, can lead to greater muscle protein synthesis.(1) If you are just doing an aerobic session, 20 grams of whey protein, post-run, is probably fine, but if you have been trail or mountain running for 2+ hours, treat it like a strength training session due to the elevation changes.
Next up is carbs. It should be a priority to replenish muscle glycogen after a hard cardiovascular session with fast-acting carbohydrates. Complete replenishment can take up to 24 hours, so if you have another workout today or tomorrow, you will want to get started on that recovery process ASAP.
Most people will benefit from a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein post-workout - for example, 80 grams of carbs with 20 grams of protein, which can be attained via taking 2 scoop of the PVL Sport Gainer Protein. This will cover your 4:1 ratio from mixed sources, which is the best way to ensure good absorption.
Try my favourite post-workout shake that will cover all your bases:
• 1 scoop of PVL Vanilla or Cookies & Cream Sport Whey Isolate
• 1 cup of milk or vanilla almond milk (Not unsweetened)
• 1 large frozen banana
• 1 cup of frozen blueberries
• Handful of kale or spinach
Just blend it all up and slam it down!
"Around the clock" supplementation
• Glutamine (5 grams per day)
• Creatine (5-10 grams per day)
The most abundant amino acid in the body, Glutamine provides amazing recovery and immune-system boosting properties, whilst protecting muscle from being burned as fuel during intense workouts. It also possesses digestive/gut health support benefits, which allows you to optimize the uptake of all of those vital nutrients you are putting into your body on a daily basis!
I would also recommend an intake of 5-10 grams of creatine per day - timing is generally not an issue, so sip on it during the day with your favourite flavour of PVL Glutamine.
With over 700 research articles conducted on creatine, it is the most researched supplement in the world and it is remarkably safe and effective, (contrary to what the general media may think). I wouldn't necessarily recommend creatine for runners, but definitely for OCR athletes, who have to generate a lot of power for running up big hills, climbing walls and carrying heavy objects.
Although creatine may increase your weight by a few pounds due to slightly heightened water retention, the benefits should outweigh this in the form of increased power production when you need it. It will also benefit your workouts and training, by potentially giving you the ability to push a little a harder!
There you have it folks: my basic supplementation protocol for an OCR athlete. Whether you are an elite competitor or a once-a-year warrior this will give you a boost for your training and get you primed for your next race.