Introduction to sports nutrition in endurance sports
Endurance is the ability to sustain a certain intensity (e.g., running speed) over a longer period of time and to recover as soon as possible. Endurance training allows you to make better use of the available energy sources and enables a higher intensity from the start. Apart from a well-trained endurance, other factors such as strength, speed, coordination and agility also influence performance. The extent to which these skills are required and trained depends on the type of sport. Long-distance running, cycling, cross-country skiing, triathlon and long course swimming are typical endurance sports.
Performance strongly depends on aerobic metabolism which is closely connected to carbohydrate metabolism. Anaerobic metabolism is required for short high-intensity exercise (change of pace, incline, short bursts, final sprint) and often results in lactic acid build-up in the muscles which limits performance. For long-lasting exercise, fat metabolism gains in importance.
Fatigue in long-term endurance is mainly the result of the depletion of carbohydrate stores.
Important requirements for long-term endurance athletes are a well-trained aerobic capacity, a high economy of motion in order to save energy, full energy reserves (muscle and liver glycogen) and to handle switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism during changes in intensity.