Opinion: Good nutrition is essential for sports

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Clif Bar & Company -

A balanced diet is crucial for athletes. Getting the right nutrition at the right time is important, as is getting nutrition from real food ingredients.

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LUNCHTIME GROUP RUNS from the of­fice some­times have five peo­ple head­ing out, other times there are 12. Two-hour bike rides with co-work­ers pro­vide a way to “con­nect with the com­pany.” Clif Bar CEO Kevin Cleary says he’ll of­ten ar­rive at an af­ter­noon meet­ing sweaty af­ter one of those lunchtime jaunts. Wel­come to life at Clif Bar, with a CEO who is gear­ing up for his first go at the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship in Kona, Hawaii. Cleary’s goal, he feels, sets the right ex­am­ple for the or­ga­ni­za­tion he leads – he wants Clif Bar em­ploy­ees to em­brace “be­ing their best and lead­ing healthy lives.” He’s the coach of his eight-year-old twin sons’ base­ball team, and also coaches his sixyear-old son’s team, too. He en­cour­ages his em­ploy­ees to get out and do the same in their com­mu­ni­ties, too. You know those work en­vi­ron­ments that frown upon leav­ing the of­fice while it’s still light? Cleary of­ten heads out at 4 to get to the soc­cer field. That “lead by ex­am­ple” ap­proach isn’t just for the peo­ple who work for him – and isn’t just about work­outs, ei­ther. “I love do­ing this stuff to show my kids and set a good ex­am­ple,” he says. “My kids see a dad who is as ex­cited about go­ing to work on Mon­day as he is head­ing out for his ride on Satur­day.” None of which means that Cleary doesn’t work hard. Run­ning a com­pany while get­ting ready for the world cham­pi­onship is no easy task, but Cleary plans and pre­pares ev­ery week to be able to fit ev­ery­thing in. For the last 17 years he’s sat down ev­ery Sun­day night to or­ga­nize his week so he can fit in all his work­outs, along with his travel and work com­mit­ments and, of course, that im­por­tant fam­ily time. That dis­ci­pline got him through Iron­man Canada in 1999 and Iron­man Wis­con­sin in 2005. He’s raced nu­mer­ous half-dis­tance races since. As he gears up for Kona he’s been work­ing with coach Matt Dixon, who has fo­cussed his train­ing. He’s now train­ing with a power me­ter to en­hance the speci­ficity of his train­ing, too. “It’s a whole dif­fer­ent take on train­ing,” Cleary says. “He gets you the key work­outs you need. Ev­ery work­out has a pur­pose.” Of course nu­tri­tion will be a ma­jor com­po­nent to Cleary’s Kona race and he’s been test­ing out a num­ber of Clif Bar prod­ucts to make sure he finds the per­fect mix for race day on the Big Is­land. One of the things he’s found is that he en­joys sweeter tast­ing prod­ucts early, but craves a dif­fer­ent taste to­wards the end of his work­outs. Dur­ing his race in Kona he will “do some­thing ev­ery 10 min­utes: drink, take some BLOKS, drink, take a gel, drink, take some of our Or­ganic En­ergy Food or have half a CLIF Bar.” As he’s pre­pared for the race he’s also fig­ured out his favourite prod­ucts. “I find the Mar­garita CLIF BLOKS with the salty flavour and higher sodium con­tent work re­ally well later in a work­out,” he says. Cleary hopes to go un­der 11 hours on the Big Is­land in Oc­to­ber (he fin­ished Iron­man Canada in 11:40), but won’t be up­set if he doesn’t reach that goal. No mat­ter what his time, though, his Iron­man jour­ney has been a great trip. CLIF BLOKS MAR­GARITA EN­ERGY CHEWS With three times the sodium of other BLOKS flavours, the Mar­garita CLIF BLOKS are or­ganic, easy to han­dle and easy to chew. They’ll also give your palate a wel­come change from all the sweet­ness en­ergy drinks, gels and other BLOKS you might have taken in on race day. It’s easy to keep track of your caloric in­take, too – each BLOK pro­vides 33 calo­ries. CLIF BLOKS are made with or­ganic brown rice syrup, a min­i­mally re­fined source of car­bo­hy­drate with nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring sodium, potas­sium and mag­ne­sium.

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