"How should I plan my nutrition for my"fill in the blank distance" triathlon race?
A question that is asked to coaches and other athletes many times.
My advice? Keep it simple. Too many overthink, overdue, and overstress their nutrition. I find that many feel that a complex race nutrition is needed whether from marketing messages or just by other peers who swear by such and such product, gu etc.
Since a bunch of us are doing participating in longer distance triathlons this year, I will give the following example using a 70.3 (half ironman) distance nutrition.
Keep in mind, the tips etc are also good to use for a variety of events and training.
Lets start with the most important:
Fluid: Drinking adequate fluids is the most important nutritional factor in achieving your race.
Train and practice with a sports drink that you can stomach on the bike. Depending on your weight, sweat level, weather etc. - aim for 8-10 ounces every 20 minutes on the bike. If you have a higher sweat level, warmer temperatures you may need to take in more.
Check out the nutritional label on your sports drink - see how much carb, potassium, and sodium it has (or lack of ). Rule of thumb on bike - 30-60 grams of carbs per hour. Depending on your sports drink (some athletes solely use a sports drink because it has all the carbs/sodium they need). Check out dried fruit, energy bars, and sodium tablets during your training especially during the bike leg.
Salt - not just for margaritas anymore once you become a endurance athlete. (no, not funny? i tried). Sodium intake varies widely on the athlete. Once again, check out when you train. Is their dried salt on your body after you do a workout? It varies you don't want to take in too much salt. Rule of thumb states between 800mg to 1200mg per hour. Once again this can vary. If you find yourself cramping and having digestive issues, this may be from low sodium intake.
So during the race, hydrate, consume carbs and intake sodium. *Forms of caffeine are ok if you can handle it depending on your intake. I only take in some caffeinated sports beans when I feel sluggish.
Night before your race- eat clean and only eat until your satisfied. Forget the I have to stuff my face with pasta outlook. It doesn't help. I usually have salmon, greens, and half a sweet potato.
Race morning: Try to eat at least 2 hours prior to race (3 hours preferred). Once again this is trial and error. See what works for you during training. Consume some carbs about 100-200 grams- whole grain bagel, fruits, peanut butter and jelly. Take it easy with the coffee this am.
Practice, practice, practice, what you are going to eat and drink in varied weather.
Don't try anything new on race day.
Research what will be available at your race and try it! See if it works for you.
Everything in moderation- you should not find yourself wolfing down sandwiches, or chugging Gatorade. This will only cause digestive issues. Take small sips, small bites - like your mother taught you..
Have a backup plan - dropped a bottle on the bike and that annoying guy behind you ran over it? If you tried out what they had on the race course prior to race - see how much you can stomach it etc.
When I have digestive issues,- sips of flat cola has always helped me. I also keep ginger chews and mints with me.
** I don't claim to be a nutritionist or dietitian or a English teacher. So please take my advice with a grain of salt.