I always say dont let weather or nutrition get in the way of your performance. I have let that happen more then I care to admit in the past 26 years of racing. It can be tricky to manage your race day nutrition because other factors, what you can carry, what you can take on the course, how much you eat and drink the days leading up to the race, can impact what and how much you eat and drink race day.
What works for me may not work for you and experience often helps create the your plan. I am fortunate that I can handle solid and liquid calories. My plan includes 20o calories / hour. What those calories are composed of changes each race or training year.
Nutrition is an important component to how well your will train and perform in your sport. Even if you are not competitive, it is important to consider your nutrition needs both before and after your workout. Don’t let hungry or lack or nutrition keep you from your workout.
Below are some basic guidelines I share with athletes I coach. I am not a Registered Dietitian so often refer them to a local RD if they want to get more personalized plan.
Prior to exercise, here are some important tips to keep in mind to properly fuel:
- Consume a snack fairly high in carbohydrates to ensure adequate muscle stores. Fruits, cereals, breads, energy bars and gels
- Include a small amount of protein to aid in muscle repair. Protein (meats, legumes) is not easily digestible so keep it small
- Avoid foods high in fat or fiber, to aid in digestion and avoid gastric distress.
Some examples of of my pre-exercise food choices with a protein/carbohydrate combination are:
- hummus with pita carrots and broccoli
- Amy’s Burrito
- peanut butter (protein source)on bagel or sandwich bread or banana or apple
- nuts and fruit mix
- cliff bar
Examples of my post training protein/carbohydrate meal.
- Make sure to ingest a snack or meal with carbohydrate and protein within 15-60 minutes following an intense workout.
- Including protein will help to aid in repairing muscle damage and will provide the building blocks for stimulating growth of new muscle tissue.
- You WILL be more hungry following a workout. To avoid overeating and negating the calories you burned during exercise, try to include high fiber foods in your post-exercise meal.
Here are some ideas of good post-exercise food choices:
- Shakeology with almond milk, banana and peanut butter
- Whole-wheat pita or bagel filled with veggies, tofu or other plant based protein sourse
- Rice with plant based protein and veggies
- Lentil sweet potato chile
Some common nutritional issues I and others have reported experienced during an Ironman and 70.3 are:
- Bonking, “hitting the wall” not sustaining their intensity during the last part of the race.
- Increased temperatures or humidity then what you trained in causing dehydration can limit performance.
- Gastrointestinal problems such as stomach cramps, bloating, etc. can have a negative impact on your performance.
Carbohydrate should be your main fuel for an event. Your body stores contain roughly 500 grams of carbohydrate (this is 2000 kcal), not enough to make it to the finish line. In theory it should be enough to get most athletes through the first 3 hours of a 4 plus hour race. Start fueling early, the first 30 minutes of the bike to make sure you avoid carbohydrate depletion. I know from experience as well as the research, once you run out of carbohydrate stores it is difficult to recover.
As a general rule, aim for about 200 calories (50 grams) per hour as a starting point, +- 50-100 calories pending your size. Common sources of easily digestible carbohydrate are bars, gels, chews, and drinks (Gatorade). What you use is a matter of personal preferences. Of course the best way to determine it is in training. I find that race intensity makes it more difficult chew solids. I also like “eating” so combine bars, gels and liquid calories. I like options!
Some of my 200 calorie / hour combinations include:
- 1 bars + water and each 1/2 bar / 30 minutes drinking 20-30 ounces of water within the hour
- 2 gels + water
- 1 get + bottle of energy drink + water
I have had much success drinking about 30 ounces or 1.5 -2 bottles of liquid per hour. Most events have aid stations every 10 miles so you dont need to carry that much during the event. Drink to thirst is a recommendation that works fine for other athletes. Again, it is best to try in training and create a plan for race day. I like to be hydrated and “loaded” before race day so I am very mindful of my hydration and choosing carbohydrate rich foods 72 hours learning up to the main event.
My general 70.3 Nutrition Plan
On the bike I drink 3-4 bottles, 2 water (32-40 ounces) and about 1-2 bottles of gatorade. plus a bar on the bike. On the run I just sipped a cup of gad orate and water 6 times on the run. For IM similar just more cause the race is longer.
Please reach out to me with questions, comments of concerns