Nutrition for Your Triathlon Race Day
How do you fuel your body to swim, bike and run one after the other competitively? First of all, there is no one miracle diet that works for all triathletes. As you compete in more races, you’ll start to learn what works best for you and your body. That’s truly the best way to put together a race weekend nutritional plan.
If you’re just getting started, here are some general tips to keep in mind.
Less is More. Usually. The less food you have in your stomach, the fewer things you’re asking your body to do. This makes more energy available to focus on your race. This does not mean that you should race on empty. You need to fuel yourself to compete, but in general, less is more.
Hydration is Key. Hydration is tricky because it’s a balance. You need to be hydrated, but try not to over-hydrate. Keep your water tank full, but not too full. There isn’t a science to how much water to drink. Recognize how you feel and how you perform with different amounts of water in your system to find what works best for you.
Avoid New Things. The day before your race is not the time to try a new dish at your favorite restaurant. Stick to things you know your body accepts, so you aren’t feeling yucky at the starting line.
Keep these general tips in mind, and plan your race weekend accordingly. Many triathletes use a plan with these four key points.
- Eat your last full meal no less than 12 hours before your start time. This will give your body plenty of time to digest the more complex pieces of a full meal. It’s a good idea to make sure you include some carbs in this meal to boost your energy the next day.
- Eat an early, small breakfast. Some athletes eat a liquid breakfast (i.e. smoothies, sports drinks, etc.), but others prefer something with a few more carbs like a bagel. While the timing of this meal varies, you probably want to have it done no less than 2 hours before your race. If you need to, don’t feel weird getting up in the wee hours of the morning to eat, and then going back to sleep.
- Find a sports drink you like. Sports drinks are great in moderation. They help to replenish your energy and electrolytes while keeping you hydrated. Sip on a sports drink the morning of the event. It might be a good idea to water it down for some extra hydration.
- Drink water. Like we said earlier, keep your water tank full. There isn’t a formula for the exact amount of water to drink, but make sure you’re sipping on water before, during and after your race.
Nutrition can be a tough concept to fully understand. It’s even tougher when you’re asking more of your body than the Average Joe does. These tips will help you to find the best nutrition plan for you on race day. Test things out during training and recognize how you feel during competition. As you compete in more events, you’ll fall into a nice triathlon race-day nutrition routine!
What go-to’s do you use for race-day nutrition?