I've been running for over 10 years and have the nutrition down to a science as for what works for my races. However, training for a triathlon is very different and when training for my first 70.3, it was a very humbling experience. Learning how to swim efficiently or cycle properly with clipping in and out of the pedals or changing gears is one thing but the nutrition piece was a challenge as well. When you start incorporating brick workouts or workout sessions last over 3 to 4 hours, proper nutrition plays a huge role in either finishing strong or not finishing at all. Fueling up before, during and even after a session is important especially with multiple workouts day in and day out. Calculating your needs and keeping a food log can help ensure proper nutrients are met. Below are some guidelines for ensuring you are fueling up properly to reach your optimal performance on race day. Remember trying out foods that work and settle in your stomach before race day is key.
The following is what has worked for me during my most recent 70.3 race - TrapaniMAN 113 in Trapani, Sicily on April 28, 2013. I signed up for the race three days before, which was two weeks after the Boston marathon. A group of 5 friends drove across the island taking off at 3 am to make the race at 8:30 am. Many thought we were a little nuts and I thought I was too but I knew I needed more experience in open water so I looked at the race as one long training day. This was my second 70.3 distance as my first was in 2012, the Half Ironman in Pescara, Italy. As it turned out, the race was a success and I was able to cut about an hour off my previous time finishing in 6 hours, 9 minutes. I am signed up for the Ironman 70.3 in Austria coming up in 2 weeks. I am hoping for a sub-6 hour race but it all depends on race day!
The following is what I've found works for 70.3 distances:
3 hours before the race: Plain greek yogurt, 1/2 cup frozen cherries, 1 cup bran flakes with a cup of coffee.
1 hour before the race: 2 mini bagels with peanut butter and banana. I'm also drinking about 1 liter of water from the time I wake up until the start of the race.
15 minutes before the swim: 1 gel or gummy pack (shot Blocks or Power Gel pack).
T1: 2 to 4 orange slices kept at my transition station and a gel as I start on the bike.
During the bike: 3 Clif Bars, every 15 miles. It provided the carbohydrates (42 to 44 grams per bar) and protein (9 to 10 grams per bar) needed to get me through the bike and able to run.
T2: 2 to 4 orange slices again and a gel as I start on the run.
During the Run: 1 gel at mile 6 and Gatorade or water at the stations.
Determining your fueling needs:
Guide: g = grams; kg = kilograms; 1 kg = 2.2 pounds; ml = milliliters; oz = ounces
- Daily: 6 to10 grams per kilogram body weight per day. Higher levels recommended for increased training, i.e. closer to 10 grams per kilogram for the weekend of the race.
- Pre-exercise: 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates 1 to 2 hours before exercise. Should stick with low fiber and low fat choices to facilitate gastric emptying and minimize gastrointestinal (GI) distress*.
- During exercise: when exercising greater than 2 hours consume 0.7 grams per kilogram body weight per hour.
- Post exercise: 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram body weight (approx 80 to 120 grams carbohydrates) during the first 30 min and again every 2 hours for 4 to 6 hours.
- Daily: 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram body weight per day. I’d even say closer to 1.4 grams per kilogram body weight with longer training rides and the weekend of the event.
- Post exercise: a 4 to 1 ratio carbohydrate to protein intake within 30 minutes post exercise.
- 20 to 35 percent total energy intake.
- Pre-Exercise: 4 hours prior to event consume 5 to 7 milliliters per kilogram body weight.
- During exercise: 400 to 800 milliliters per hour with a 6 to 8 percent carbohydrate solution beverage i.e. Gatorade type items or 8 ounces every 15 minutes which puts you closer to 800 milliliters per hour.
- Post exercise: replace fluid losses, 16 to 24 ounces of fluid per pound lost.
*The best way to know what foods work to minimize GI distress is to experiment while training. Certain foods may work for some athletes but not others. Typically low fat and low fiber foods are best because they do not sit in the stomach as long.