Nutrition plays a crucial role in maximizing your performance. To ensure that your nutrition doesn’t hinder your fitness or competition, it is essential to develop a nutrition plan based on regular practice and experimentation during longer bike, run, and brick training sessions. This will help you eliminate any guesswork on race day.
Getting your sweat rate tested will provide valuable information about your body’s sodium needs, and help you tailor your nutrition plan accordingly. For instance, after visiting the Gatorade Sport Science Institute in 2007, it was discovered that I don’t have a lot of sodium in my sweat and can get all they need from Gatorade. Additionally, the test helped in determining that I was ingesting too many carbohydrates (1 power bar plus Gatorade and water to total about 400 calories/hour) and to dial in the nutrition plan to 200 calories and 40 ounces per hour (1 gel plus 20 ounces of water and Gatorade).
Keeping your race day nutrition plan simple is key. When logging your training, include a nutrition log alongside it, and note how you felt. Continue to tweak the plan until it’s dialed in, and keep track of how many calories you eat before and during longer workouts.
Plan the details of your fueling strategy in advance. Determine if you’ll rely on aid stations or your own supply, and if you’ll take advantage of the special needs bags. It’s also important to consider liquid calories, as they are easier to digest than solids. Experiment with different products during training to see what works best for you. If you rely on solids, consume them early during the bike (first couple of hours) and aim to keep the rest of your fuel intake liquid.
When planning the time between breakfast and your swim start, if your wave start is more than three hours after breakfast, it’s important to have some calories to top off your energy tank as the race start approaches. Research recommends an intake of 60-90 grams of carbohydrate per hour. However, it’s recommended to start with 50-60 gms and adjust it based on your body size/weight. Smaller athletes may need less, while larger athletes may require more Speak to a local registered dietitian for personalized recommendations.
Dialing in your pace/power/heart rate on the bike will affect your nutritional needs, which will impact your run. Even if you follow your planned number of calories, riding too hard will make it difficult during the run. Therefore, it’s essential to be mindful of pace and nutrition while training.
Travel with more than you need for nutrition products, as it’s crucial not to buy different brands the day before the race. Rely on an electrolyte drink throughout the day, and keep water intake to when you eat dense carbohydrate sources (gels, bars, cookies, etc.), as mixing electrolyte with food will only make the solution denser.
Never skip an aid station on the bike or run. Grab water, sip it, dump it over your head if the conditions are hot to cool off. If you get stomach trouble, slow down, and give your body the chance to recover. Cruising easy for 10-15 minutes may only “lose” a couple of minutes on the day, while continuing to carry on hard could result in losing hours or even worse, a DNF.
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