A simple but effective nutrition and hydration plan for Ironman distance Triathlons.
The most important points:
- Nothing new on race day, try out and prove your nutrition plan in training, including your lead-up days and your contingencies.
- There are great nutrition products that can provide some edge, but on race day focus on carbohydrate grams per hour and water volume per hour, these are the make and break factors.
- Stay hydrated, but don’t over do it. Too much water alone an strip out electrolytes from you system, consider some sports drink or electrolyte drink intermittently. Light coloured urine is a good sign.
- Try stay with simple meals with clean carbs, stay clear of complex restaurant meals with unknown content. (No takeaway Kababs/Asian curries)
- Saturday 4pm: light meal, don’t overdo grain including pasta and rice. Root carbs like potato are good. High volumes of grain/sugar can disturb insulin levels.
- Saturday 9:00pm: Take on some clean carbs. e,g, 500ml recovery sports drink with protein.
- 2:30 before race start: Breakfast, same as you trained with. e.g. 500ml recovery sports drink with protein or preferred cereal. Take on some fluids, then no drink until 15-20min before start.
- 0:30 before start: pee
- 0:15 before start: 200-350ml sport drink.
- Swim exit: slug of water
- Bike: 750ml to 1 litre per hour of fluids. Drink evenly, a minimum of 15min intervals. 60-70 grams carbohydrates per hour. (6-7% of fluid intake)
- Bike Options include: 750-1000ml sports drink per hour; or 750-1000ml water with 3 gels per hour; or 750-1000ml water and 60-70 grams carbs in sports bar / hour. (mixing water, sports drink, solids, simple sugars can make thing complicated and difficult to control / calculate).
- Run: drink as desired, target even drinking over course. I.e. Small slugs per table rather than full cups every 2nd/3rd. Sports drink / Bars at early tables progressing to coke later. (Try mix 1/2 coke 1/2 water to reduce stomach stress).
- If your body needs savoury later in the race, take it on. vegemite, pretzels, chicken soup etc. Your body is telling you it needs salt.
- Post race. Eat solids within an hour of finish, include protein.
- Over strength mixed sports drink (should be around 60 grams carbs per litre.) Effect – nausea, bloating
- Solids without adequate water. Effect – nausea, bloating
- Inadequate electrolytes. Effect – cramp, impaired muscle efficiency
- Water without electrolytes. E.g. Water and solids/lollies. Effect – cramp, poor performance.
- Choose you products and your plan well before race day. Train with them. Keep the plan simple, things go wrong, a simple nutrition plan is easy to adjust.
- Have a contingency plan. What if you lose a bottle on the bike on the speed humps? What if you miss an aid station? What if you special needs bag can’t be found?
- Expect some gut stress during the day, when it happens, try recall the volumes you have consumed and adjust accordingly.