1. Have a strategy
When talking about a nutrition plan for training and racing the first to do is have a strategy. You should be using the same products in training that you intend to race with. Don’t try anything new on race day. Nutrition is a highly personal thing and what might work well for one athlete may not work for another. So find out what works for you and stick with it and avoid the temptation especially in race week to try the next “new thing”.
For longer triathlons, marathons and half marathons you will need a plan. In training when your body is working aerobically and using your fat resources as a source of energy there is very little need to take on a lot of fuel in the form of carbohydrates. A good electrolyte drink that replaces the salts you have sweated out should be enough. However, for hard interval training, and working in your anaerobic threshold your body starts to use carbohydrate as a source of energy. Your body has a limited store of carbohydrates and these need to be replaced as you exercise.
2. Train with what you intend to race with
Simply done. Find the drink mixes and gels that sit comfortably with your body and do not produce adverse reactions. Practice with them. It is harder to take in food while running so it is best to practice in training than try and do it for the first time on race day. Practice carrying your gels in your Naked Running Band from Sported and practise consuming them while you are in the physical act of running. Introducing high carb products in the months leading up to your race is important. If you would switch from fasted or low carb training all of a sudden to a high carb intake just before or during a race you risk digestive issues as your body has not had the time to adapt and the enzyme production needed to digest the amount of carbs is just not upto speed.
3.Know the on-course nutrition
Many big races advertise the nutrition sponsor well in advance and in race day communications. So you have two choices: either use the on course nutrition, and train with it beforehand, or be largely self-sufficient and use what you have used in training. Remember there is an opportunity cost to carrying all of your own nutrition as it increases your weight load.
It is also useful to know how many aid stations there will be and what the nutrition will be on those aid stations. Many races will provide bananas or other fruit, water and often electrolyte or flat coke.
4. Gels/bars/energy drinks
Typically for sustained muscular activity in race mode you will need to consume approx. 60-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour which equates to one isotonic gel every 20 -30 minutes. These can be carried on a race belt but practice taking them during training. Make up your mind about how to get your carb intake. From gels, bars, energy drinks, or other food. Know how many carbs there are in each and try and get to the 60-90g per hour.
5. Electrolyte Drinks
A great idea especially if it is hot and humid. Either carry your own in a Naked running vest or Naked band or use the on- course nutrition if you are comfortable with it.
When the going gets tough, there is normally flat coke to fall back on. A source of sugar and caffeine. Most marathons, or long distance triathlons will provide flat coke in the second half of the race and this can often be a life saver! Caffeine can also be found in some gels. Save caffeine for the latter stages if you’re doing a long race, don’t start too early as this can backfire.