Going Red with Beets

Everything these days is about going green, living green, eating green and getting in your green juice…. But there is also a lot to be said for going red with beetroot.

Endurance athletes are always looking for that little bit extra to keep them going at a steady pace. Over the past few years there has been a lot of talk around the use of beetroot juice to improve endurance during moderate and high intensity running. Although the test research is still limited it is worth giving it a try.

What is so special about beetBeetrootroot?

Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates. During endurance exercise, Nitrates play a beneficial role in that they cause physiological responses which increase blood flow to muscles, lower blood pressure and most importantly reduce the amount of oxygen needed to provided energy to working muscles. Simply put, it is like getting a high octane top up on your fuel tank so that you take longer to get tired while maintaining the same pace.

Research studies have shown that high doses of beetroot juice consumed 2-3 hours before running, decreased oxygen consumption by about 3% or put another way an increased time to exhaustion at high intensity of about 15 percent. A welcome extra edge, especially ultra-distance events.

In addition beetroot is a great source of iron and folic acid (especially the leaves) which we know is essential for endurance athletes and one of the richest sources of glutamine – an amino acid which plays a very big role in recovery and immune support for endurance athletes.

Sound worth a try? So how much should you take and when?

The current studies show the optimum to be around 500-600ml of juice ingested 2-3 hours before training or racing. Some people report beetroot loading 2-3 leading up to competition but there is little research showing any advantage of doing this.

I have given it a go, it was great! Maybe it was my mind, maybe the juice…who knows? But hey, every little bit of help is worth a shot, so give it a try and let me know your experiences.

(Just try it in training before a race!!)


Coach Kathleen


About Coach Kathleen

Coaching since 2004, I have coached both young and old athletes from those achieving provincial and national medals in track, biathlon and cross country to runners running their first ever half marathon or marathon. I am a specialist in youth coaching and my coaching philosophy is to not only help each athlete achieve their best with their athletic talent but to guide each athlete in developing character and transforming their lives beyond the track. As an athlete I have competed at high levels across all the running disciplines, track, road, cross country and trail running as well as internationally in triathlon. I have a personal best of 2 hours 45 min for the marathon and have twice been part of the winning ladies team in the AfricanX trail race. Qualifications IAAF Athletics Lecturer Level 3 Distance Running Coach SAQ Fundamental Movement Certificate Personal Running Performances
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