Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes

Feb. 7, 2014

It’s Friday Rest Day Book Review Day! This month, we will focus on nutrition.

Our first book is Sports Nutrition For Endurance Athletes, Monique Ryan, 432 pages.


Let me just tell you a little story about why you need to learn about nutrition as an endurance athlete. It was my first half-ironman – the Muncie 70.3 in 2013. My good friend Corby who was doing it with me asked me “What’s your nutrition plan?” To which I basically replied “I dunno…I’ll just eat an drink when I need to.” A veteran of a few marathons, I figured I could do it on a little gel and sports drink. HA! I didn’t eat either of the two Clif bars I had in my jersey “just in case”, drank one bottle of sports drink and one of water, and I felt great during most of the bike….until the last 15-20 miles. THEN, I bonked. Hard. As if the transition to running isn’t hard enough! My glucose-starved brain was so confused I started running down the WRONG SIDE of the run course (it was an out and back). I’m actually pretty sure one of the lead people passed me on their way back to the finish, but I honestly can’t remember because it was all sort of a blur. I do, however, remember some spectator who was able to stop laughing at me long enough to tell me to run on the other side of the road, and I was actually with it enough at that moment to realize he was right. I moved over, and then ate and drank every carb offered to me at every aid stations for first few miles of the run course. I recovered a little and I actually wasn’t too upset about my run time, but it still was a tough, tough run that I would like to never experience again. So as I walked/ran the rest, I resolved to learn more about nutrition as soon as possible.

Enter, Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 3rd Ed. By Monique Ryan.

This book changed my endurance sports life, and my relationship with food. It’s not for the faint at heart – it’s very detailed and takes a while to digest (pun intended). But that’s what makes it good. I should say that for some this may be basic info, and I’m sure some of this same info is covered in other books, but it was all new to me. So it’s a lot of info for a newbie, anyway. Ryan helped me learn how many calories I was burning while working out, and how many calories I needed to eat during a given day to maintain or achieve a certain weight. There are TONS of tables and data in this book. She also helps you understand how to fuel before, during, and after a workout or race, so you don’t bonk and run down the wrong side of the road!

One thing I particularly liked about the book was that Ryan talks about the ingredients in specific energy products common to endurance athletes such as electrolyte drinks and energy gels and bars. She also addresses supplements like whey protein powders and what good (if any) they can do for endurance sports athletes. Very, very helpful for newbies like me who get very confused looking at all the products available on the market. She also is very vegetarian friendly, and includes some sample vegetarian menus as well as meaty ones, which I very much appreciated.

I really can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s all there – everything a new endurance athlete needs to know about nutrition. I highly, highly recommend this book.


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