NUTRITION – the other Discipline in Triathlon

NUTRITION – the other Discipline in Triathlon

Everyone hears Triathlon and they go Swim, Bike, Run – 3 disciplines WOW - but there is actually a 4th discipline and if you don’t nail it the other 3 will suffer and quite possibly can end up causing the dreaded DNF (did-not-finish) on race/event day no matter how much training you did.  It is NUTRITION  - if you are not eating and hydrating properly you will suffer – during training and definitely on event day . 

I will be honest my nutrition plan this time around has been absolute #!@*@ .  Let’s face it, you will always drop a bit of weight when training for Iron distance events but I have never dropped 40lbs any other time.    Now some of this is due to the running streak but a lot of it is due to just not eating enough or properly.

So with 2 months to go until race day I have to start working on my nutrition and get my plan in place because quite frankly I have not been on top of this at all. That means I need to decide what to use, then use it when I am training  so I can test what works for me and what doesn’t.  When I say what works and does not that means:

  1.   Do I like the taste?  If I don’t like it -  I won’t use it  - no sense carrying it.
  2.   Does it give me gut rot or make me noxious? Nothing worse than bad stomach or worse       throwing up during or after a workout. 
  3.   Do they work together?  This means will the electrolyte complement the gels, wraps, etc, etc that I am going to eat.  I learned this the hard way – for me I cannot use Nuun electrolyte and Guu gels together – causes agonizing stomach craps and gut rot.  L
  4. What am I eating when not training?  
  5.  Am I eating enough calories during the event/training session?   
  6. Am I eating enough calories overall?

So what I do know is that when working out on the bike /run I need to be eating every 45 minutes and drinking every 15 – 20 minutes.  I have not been doing that and I can feel the difference so I am going to start doing that again. 

Part of my struggle is that I am trying to find the right combination of products that I like and can take together.  Since I am trying to go more natural I have been trying more of the natural gels.  I was using Huma Gels and quite liked them once I got over the texture and they seemed to work with my NUUN electrolytes (no upset tummy) but where I used to buy them is no longer carrying them – ARGGGHHHH.  So then I thought Honey Stinger – I will try them and well the blocks and wafers  are good the only flavour of gel I like is the Mango Orange all the other flavors taste like Cough syrup – YUCK.  I am trying a new electrolyte – sorry forget the name but it is all natural to and hoping it will go well with the Honey Stinger stuff and then I will have that part down and then  I just have to start doing it while I train.  On the course I will always take banana’s from the aid stations – Potassium – I can’t say enough – completely helps with leg cramps and well Salt tabs – I always carry those as the weather gets warmer. 

You may say every 45 minutes to eat!?!  I know it sounds like a lot but the trick is to eat and drink before you are hungry or thirsty and to maintain your energy stores consistently for the calories burned.   My first 2 Ironmans I ate but I only ate when I thought I felt hungry.  My last Ironman I ate every 45 minutes – as best I could since I lost a lot of my nutrition in the first corner of the bike course!  But every aid station I rode through I grabbed a banana ate it- by the time I got to the run course I never wanted to see another banana. 

On my overall nutrition I know I have not been eating enough.  The reality hit me 2 weeks ago .  I had done all my tri training and then had thrown in a hot yoga class and suffered all week.  My legs felt like lead, I had headaches, and overall just felt tired all week.  I kept thinking what the heck and then I realized – I had not replaced any of the electrolytes/salts I had sweated out from the yoga class.  I realized my potassium, iodine, etc etc were totally messed up. 

So I have started eating banana’s again daily.  I have been taking multi vitamins and I have been making sure I have a small snack – such as nuts or an apple  between meals  and getting my calories back up as I am burning  2000- 2500 calories a day  and  I am pretty sure I was not eating anything close to that.  Already  the heavy legs are gone, energy levels back to normal and no more headaches. 

Last weekend on my long workouts I made a point to eat something every 45 minutes and to try and sip electrolytes every 15 – 20 minutes and I felt better at the end of the workouts so I know I am on the right track and I should have a solid nutrition plan in place for event day now.

Really here are some key things to think about when training for endurance /long distance to ensure you are a bad ass and not a dumb ass:
  •  Eat a quality diet – fruits, veggies, complex carbs and proteins, decrease alcohol and increase water
  •  Eat enough – start w breakfast – your post workout recovery will improve
  • Hydrate properly and often – helps with digestion, nutrient absorption – how much – if your urine is straw coloured good – Dark Yellow – BAD drink more.

Be Relentless and  you will be a bad ass on event day. 



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