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!!!