Simplify Your Race Nutrition
by Alex Thompson
Race fueling is all about knowing the maximum about of carbs you can can ingest in an hour, eating that amount and going as quick as you can without burning through your glycogen stores until the last mile of the run. Simple.
Many of the team at Endurance Corner are experts in the science of fueling for triathlon and I cannot add to their discussions. What I can contribute is my practical experience and a case study – what works for me. When you’ve solved your own nutrition puzzle you’ll wonder what took you so long, but be careful: the correct nutritional plan is wasted on a poorly paced race and poor pacing often results in GI issues.
If you suffer cramps or your GI system shuts down, don’t blame it on the sunlight (heat), don’t blame it on the moon light (lack of sleep the night before), don’t blame it on the good times (skipping training to party), blame it on the boogie (boogieing too much early on during the bike). And if you’re sure it wasn’t the boogie, look at your nutrition.
I’ve used this plan for a while. In my last race, I had no issues; I didn’t slow down and didn’t have a squiffy tummy. However I have a strong stomach, and could eat road kill without getting nauseus.
Even though I’ve used my nutrition plan for a while, I still I test it out in simulation sessions. Each year I try and see if I can handle a few more calories during training.
Breaking the nutrition down into calories, caffeine and fluid/water makes it easier to make small adjustments. For example, in a hot race, I look at sweat rate and adjust electrolytes; in a hilly race I’ll add more calories in my calorie bottle. If I used energy drink, it would be hard for me to change my calorie intake based on the heat, and if the weather changes in the race, you’re stuffed if your calories are mixed in with your fluids. Energy gels are expensive, so I buy bulk maltodextrin powder and use that as my main source of fuel when racing.
I hope that gives you some ideas to try if your not happy with your own plan. But remember, practice in training what you wish to do in a race!
Alex has been a triathlete since 2005 and has competed several ironman and ultra distances races. He is currently working towards making the transition from age group athlete into the pro ranks. He has been working closely with Alan Couzens for the last two years to achieve his goal. You can follow Alex's progress through his blog, TriOnTrack and on Twitter @XIronmanAlexX.