Events where near-maximal exercise intensity is maintained over exercise durations of approximately 1–8 min are generally considered as middle-distance disciplines. These include track and field (400 m to 1500 m), individual track cycling time trial and cycling pursuit (500 m to 4000 m), swimming (100 m to 400 m), rowing/kayak and speed skating (500 m to 5000 m). For simplicity, throughout the rest of this chapter, the athletes who participate in this group of events will simply be referred to as middle-distance athletes. Given the considerable contribution of both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems to providing the required energy, middle-distance athletes could be described as being at the cross-roads of metabolism.
Accordingly, all elite middle-distance athletes undertake a periodised training approach, featuring vastly different training volumes and intensities throughout different times of the year. Indeed, when examining the training of elite middle-distance athletes, the volume of training in the aerobic development phase rivals that of a long-distance athlete (e.g. marathoner), while the intensity, quality and speed of training during the competition season is similar to that of a sprinter. This chapter provides relevant information on nutrition recommendations linked to acute and chronic periodised training situations and competitive events for middle-distance athletes. Body composition is a product of training energy expenditure coupled with nutritional energy intake, and is also described within a yearly periodised approach.
Several nutri tional supplements relevant to middle-distance athletes, as well as emerging future nutritional research directions, are also discussed.