I have discovered that I am now too old to simply turn up and race without the proper preparation. Years ago I could skip sessions, not stretch, eat literally anything, turn up and bank a solid race (nothing super special, but solid enough to be competitive). As the years have rolled on my body and approach has had to change. My training has had to become more routine, more consistent, more targeted to where I am at in my life and subsequently my performances have also become more reliable and consistent. If you have followed my blog at all, I currently can squeeze in about 10 hours (on average) per week of training. As my age has crept up and the distances of my races have gotten longer I have had to seek out ways of recovering quicker, training & racing longer. Very quickly nutrition became a focal point of mine!
Nutrition is impossible to give a 1 size fits all receipt, so rather I’ll try and share my experience! I’ve been luckily enough, or perhaps dedicated enough that I have done the work in training so that I don’t have any horror stories from epic failures on race day, but there are a few golden rules I follow.
First rule is never eat anything on race day you haven’t tried in training! From here it is a matter of trial and error!
Lets look at the half marathon and Noosa triathlon, both events are a little shorter, around the 2 hr mark (give or take 30 minutes). The straight run is harder to eat during, so I find the Gu chews best suited or even a basic jube (jelly) lollies, like gummy bears, or Allen’s party mix! I like to keep my energy separate from my hydration. I generally walk the aid stations, ensuring i get a good mouthful of fluid then start running again immediately, eating the chews after each stop! Adds nothing to the run, but ensures I remain hydrated and fuel appropriately!
In the triathlons (like Noosa) I use a mix of Endura gels & GU chews. A chew in transition and early on the bike & a gel late on the bike! I also take a gel on the run about 5/6km in to get me home. Again keeping my hydration separate, I use shots tables in my water (high in sodium, to keep my salts levels up and stave off any cramping)!
The goal of my race day nutrition is to close the gap between what I am burning by consuming enough to get me to the finish line.
In the ironman and 70.3 triathlons I add in some solid food like Winners bars. Generally a bar early on the bike, so that it doesn’t sit in my stomach for the run, i like the sea salt & chocolate ones, the added sodium is a nice bonus! In training I don’t do it every session, but there are plenty of session that I do! I generally use about 1/2 to 1/4 during training, so I am completely wasted by the end of my session! Training in glycogen deficit is the topic of a whole other blog!
In the lead up to an event I always do a trail (or 2) of 95% of my strategy so I know what works & what doesn’t, this also allows me to make any adjustments that may be necessary. In the full ironman, I do have 1/2 a banana on the bike, but really I stick to the chews, bars and gels!
Nutrition is all about what works for you! What works for me, may not work for you! Trial a few different things, document them somewhere and compare against each activity and reflect on what felt good, bad or indifferent! There is no right or wrong, just what works for you!
So for my day to day nutrition in training I use an amazing app named ‘My Fitness Pal’, which also syncs with Garmin Connect to adjust my daily goals based on my activity & training. The following couple of images show the daily break up over meals then broken into nutrients (carbohydrates, fats & protein).
Further break up of the daily calorie consumption into further nutrient categories is also avaialbe as follows:
I love the simplicity of this app, you can even scan bar-codes, adjust the quantity of servings sizes and portions consumed. It’s quick, its simple & super easy to use. I have found that I use it when I am in a big training block & find myself getting tired. Generally I discover that I may not be consuming enough calories or I am consuming the wrong blend of nutrients. So if you haven’t tried it, I cannot recommend it highly enough, its a great addition to my training tools. It can help me manage tiredness and not under (or over) eat. My Fitness Pal
If you’re not active at the moment & need some inspiration, follow me on Strava, Instagram and like my facebook page and let’s get back out there swim, bike or running. The biggest regret we can have in life is to not TRI!