Tri Tip Tuesday-Race Day Fuel

It’s that time of the week again- Tri Tip Tuesday! I’m all linked up with Lisa from The Skinny On Health, so head on over and read up on all the awesome fitness and health related posts in the link up when you’re done here!


Today we’re going to be discussing something that not everyone thinks about at first but will eventually question- fueling on the go during a race. Nutrition is often times called the fourth discipline of triathlon and there’s a good reason why!

There is mixed opinions when it comes to fueling during a race that is shorter than 2 hours in length, as some sprint triathlons will be. This is something you’ll see marathoners discussing too in terms of fueling during a half, same idea. Many endurance athletes don’t typically “fuel” during a race shorter than two hours.

However, not all of us are “endurance athletes” and that fuel can be helpful. General rule of thumb will vary between 200-400 calories per hour depending on race length and your personal size and nutritional needs. For an Ironman length race 300-400 calories per hour is a typical consumption. In a shorter course triathlon 200-300 is an attainable and doable amount. And you’ll want a good portion of those calories to be coming from carbohydrates for sustained energy and glycogen replenishing. 


Typical fuel options that include gels, chews, and bars. These are the most commonly used fuels on shorter course races like half marathons and sprint and Olympic distance tri’s. 

What you use to fuel with boils down to personal preference. Most people stick with liquid calories that come from any variety of sports drinks as well as gels and chews. A word to the wise is to find out what kinds of fuel your particular race will be providing and practice with those items to make sure they agree with your digestive system. Nothing worse than trying something new on race day and ending up in GI distress half way through your run. 

Other things people may eat while racing includes real food such as seed and nuts, candy or protein bars, sweet or regular potatoes, peanut butter sandwiches, etc. The real food is usually seen more in long course races and more so in triathlon than marathons since you’ll have special needs and transitions to gobble down something real. 


My favorite real food option is Eggo Mini Waffles made into bite sized peanut butter sandwiches. Yum!

Figuring out what works for you is key. And make sure all that “figuring out” happens in training, not race day. For example, I can’t do gels or gu’s because they upset my stomach and leave my mouth sticky and unquenchably thirsty. I found this out on a training run only about two miles from home and a half mile from a public restroom. And I practice with my mini waffle sandwiches during a few three hour spinning sessions where I was inside and just down the hall from a bathroom. 

I find that even in short course races like half marathons and sprint triathlons fueling helps me power through. It gives me a good energy boost later in the race and that definitely doesn’t hurt! So make sure you have a nutrition plan in place for your races that are pushing two hours or longer and practice, practice, practice!!!

Do you fuel on half marathons or sprint triathlons?
Favorite mid race fuel?
If you have questions that you’d like answered on Tri Tip Tuesday make sure you comment or email me and I’ll be sure that your question gets addressed!

10 Thoughts on “Tri Tip Tuesday-Race Day Fuel

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I’m currently working on my fueling for my Ultra Beast run. I’m currently loving the blackberry and raspberry Hammer Gels. I need to start working on my real food fueling though. I really like your waffle PB sandwich idea!

  2. OMG I used to POUND those eggo minis in my mouth! They’re the bomb. But the box would be empty in about 5 minutes, LOL!

  3. Well, I am not a triathlete but I do run half marathons. It really depends on how I am feeling during the race if I will have only 1 pack of the honey stingers chews. My favorite fuel is anything honey stingers!!

  4. Anonymous on April 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm said:

    I’m still learning to re-fuel properly midrace. I have been trying out the jelly belly energy beans and like them thus far since you don’t have to have water to eat them. I also am with onemotherofaday. Looooove honey stingers! I started using them for backpacking and realized they are great for half marathons as well!

  5. I recently tried the Shot Blocks, and they were yummy, but I’m not sure if they worked. I’ll definitely give those honey stingers a try since everyone is talking about them!

  6. I use GU an Nuun tabs pretty much exclusively but have recently started to add in some homemade raisin/date/almond bars while on my longer bike sessions. I’ve also tried peanut butter sandwiches in the past which seem to work ok as well. Apparently I have the stomach of a goat. 😉

  7. I cannot stomach Gu, but I need to try again because I know so many races use them. So, for now I have to carry all my fuel.

  8. I can’t stomach the gels but I like Nuun tabs and Lara bars. Also, that looks like a tasty pre-race breakfast 🙂

  9. I’ve been trying to figure out what works best for fuel, particular post workout recovery. Any recommendations for what is best immediately after?

  10. Pingback: Tri Talk Tuesday - Race Fuel |

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