How To Prepare Triathlon Race Nutrition (Part Two)

by Gordon Polovin

C.   Reading your own body helps a lot.

When you’re into the race and the pressure is on, the smallest things can create a disruption many times worse than the cause itself. For example, my biggest issue was heartburn and a build-up of acidity. It took substantial perseverance to find an effective diet that was also bland. Even so, the discomfort reared its ugly head from time to time. Finally, I found that a few antacid tablets like Tums in my pouch, or something even a little more substantial, brought instant relief. It also relaxed me before the race, knowing I had the issue covered, no matter what. So, don’t ignore medical diagnosis that spells out potential race obstacles. Face them head-on and prepare.

 

D.   Race pace versus time on the road

Traditionally, more than ninety percent of the athletes complete the course between seven-and-a-half and twelve hours in the Comrades. Fewer than two hundred (of the twenty thousand) finish in under seven hours. If you asked athletes randomly on race day what time they were aiming for, the results showed unrealistic optimism versus the eventual emerging times. So, it’s crucial to come to terms with your capabilities and set your PB as an achievable milestone. What’s my point here? The faster your pace, the higher is your heart’s pump rate, pushing blood to the muscles quicker to carry the needed oxygen supply. On the other side of the coin, there’s less blood around to support digestion.

 

The bottom line is that an elite or semi-elite athlete’s carb intake priorities shift away from the number of calories you need in a race (versus the average athlete). Faster competitors absorb less but must focus on doing it so their bodies can receive it without sudden side effects. Also, as you get into the triathlon racing culture, you may find you’re improving dramatically. Accept this as a sign to adjust your racing nutrition focus; otherwise, diet may end up as the enemy of further progress. Performance and nutritional adjustment go hand in hand.

 

E.   Other considerations

  1. Heavy sweating or excessive perspiring in hot conditions was always a Comrades pitfall. Durban weather is the same as Miami, and on the “up” run starting in that city, you’re pouring sweat at the start. So I made sure that I could replace electrolyte loss with the correct fluids and tablets. Also, I recommend taking a free sweat test on the Precision Hydration website to address this issue constructively.

 

  1. Splitting nutrition intake between the bike and the run

Here are tips I’ve gleaned from many of my friends into triathlons: 

  • Eating is easier on a bike than running. Therefore, rely more on gels and fluids on the marathon leg and solids during the cycle.
  • To reiterate, expect to absorb somewhere like one-third fewer carbs on the run, so fill up on the bike. It’s advisable to cease eating thirty minutes before the cycling leg ends to allow for smooth digestion.
  • Absorb the gels with water to stay hydrated, but frequently flat coke is a better combination for digestive balance.

 

  1. Accessing your nutrition

I find that this is a conversation in its own right. It covers a broad consideration scope.

  • There are so many triathlon options ranging from the traditional bottle cage to a receptacle mounted on aerobars.
  • Innovative concepts emerge weekly, embracing such things as custom-designed ‘bento boxes,’ pockets fitted into your tri-suit, and proven taping methods.
  • A multi-bottle fuel belt or gel flask for the run has helped many of your co-athletes. Sumarpo’s connection with industry-leading suppliers of nutritional products (and racing with the latter conveniently) is second to none.
  • Plan your special needs bag and its contents carefully, ensuring you can get to it at the right moments.
  • The race briefing pack should give you all the info you need regarding aid stations. It will help you plan for refilling your water bottles or picking up gels and electrolyte supplements. Indeed, if you’re relying on the aid station products, make sure you’re trying them out in training. Don’t be afraid to ask what solid foods will be available.

 

Conclusion

Triathlon Ironman nutrition is a complex topic. There’s so much to learn from reading on various subsets and from one’s own experience. Sumarpo can assist you immeasurably from their vantage point at the cutting edge of endurance nutrition. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of their resources so that you’re sure to tackle every triathlon event with maximum benefit on your side.

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