Friday, May 27, 2011

Weekly Training Tip - Practice Your Nutrition

Welcome to another wonderful installment of my new weekly training tips!  Continuing on the same theme as last week's tip, this week is again about nutrition.  More specifically, practicing your race day nutrition prior to race day.  It may seem obvious, but trust me, a lot of people don't put much thought into their race day nutrition and end up suffering greatly for their lack of thought.

My personal recommendation is to find out what the race will be offering at their aid stations and train with those items.  It's not as important in shorter races, but once you get into the half iron and iron distance races, it's really important to make sure that whatever you are going to eat will not make you sick.  By making sure that your stomach will agree with the provided drinks/nutrition, you will be able to use the aid stations as either part of your plan, or your back up plan should something go wrong with your plan (dropping your food/drink, GI issues, not bringing enough food/drink, etc.).

As I said last week, I don't use anything other than water if my workout is less than an hour and a half.  If I have a workout that is planned to be longer than that mark, then I use my basic nutrition plan.  Through trial and error, I've found that if I'm only doing one sport in training, my nutrition plan is slightly different than when I'm racing.  For running, I'll alternate drinking water and Gatorade, and eat a PowerGel every 4th mile (this is what I did during the Disney World Marathon and it worked great).  If I'm just cycling, my nutrition depends on the length of ride I'm doing.  Anywhere under three hours and I'll just do water and Gatorade, and a PowerGel every 30-45 minutes.  If I'm going on a longer ride, I'll structure my nutrition more like a race: alternate drinking water and Gatorade every 15 minutes, and when I drink water I alternate eating a PowerGel and half of an energy bar (as you now know, I'm in cahoots with Marathon Bar, so that's my bar of choice!).

Here's a skeleton of my Ironman race day nutrition plan:

1 bottle of sports drink in the morning, prior to entering the water
1 PowerGel prior to entering the water

At the 15 minute mark, I drink about a quarter of a bottle of sports drink, maybe a little less.
At the 30 minute mark, I drink about a quarter of a bottle of water, and one half of an energy bar.
At the 45 minute mark, I drink about a quarter of a bottle of sports drink, maybe a little less.
At the one hour mark, I drink about a quarter of a bottle of water, and one PowerGel.

*I aim for about 1 bottle of fluid per hour, 1 PowerGel per hour, and one half of an energy bar per hour.  From here, I can adjust my needs and consumption based on the weather and on my energy output.  During the last third of the bike portion (last 2 hours or so), I stop eating the energy bars and use replace them with another PowerGel in hopes to not have a bunch of solid food built up in my stomach when I begin the run.

Every 2 miles, I alternate getting a mouthful of water with a mouthful of sports drink, with sports drink being used first.  Then, every 4th mile (which should be every time I drink water), I also take in a PowerGel.

*Again, this is my basic plan.  During an Ironman, it is pretty common to need more nutrition than this.  Typically I will begin taking a swig of Coke at about the half way point through the marathon.

Everyone's needs are different during longer triathlons.  It really is a trial and error type of thing.  I recommend going out in the middle of the day during the summer to see how different your body reacts to the extreme heat, just in case that is what the weather ends up being on race day.  Experiment with different foods, drinks, gels, etc.

Gatorade Endurance (which I will now be using PowerBar's Ironman Perform instead), S!CAPS (electrolyte tabs), PowerBar (which is handed out on the IMAZ course), PowerGel, and Marathon Bar Protein/Marathon Bar Energy
This is what I take out on every run with me.  I fill two bottles with water and two bottle with sports drink, then I stuff the pockets full of PowerGel.
There are just a couple of the bottles that I use on the bike.  The funny looking one on the left is an aero bottle (it fits perfectly between my earobars!).  The one on the right is an insulated bottle.  And the little flask in front is used (by me at least) to hold up to 5 PowerGels so I don't have to open them on my bike.


  1. Good information! Where did you get the flask for your gels?

  2. Hey Karen! Thanks for reading! I bought my gel flask at Here's a link to the one I have...

    I bought one with the case, and then a couple without to have as spares. I hope that helps!

  3. old dates.... but still good advice, going to do my first ever ( hold thumbs), and this is the best and simplest plan I came across. the others is a load of math before they even talk products...LOL....maybe when I am a pro....thanx. this will be my recipy. will use in training this weekend