Nutrition is a vast and expansive area, whether it be for training or racing, so we will keep it as simple as possible for you!
In training this is the best time to practice what you use as fuel for a race.
At sprint distance triathlon, you can almost get away with not needing to refuel during the race because if you are hydrated and fuelled well enough beforehand, your body will have enough on board to cope, unless it’s a hot day and you lose fluids quicker than normal.
Some tips to think about could be to use electrolytes in your water to help retain fluids better in your body. Another trick you can try is to add a pinch of salt to your water. To explain this better, if you put salt onto water you see the salt draw the water in and retain it. The same process takes place in your body, so this is why electrolytes or salt can be beneficial. But not too much of course!
Some sports drinks can give you extra fuel if you feel you need it, if you are working very hard or the duration goes beyond particular time frames. Typically the body doesn’t need to refuel when working aerobically for anything from 60 to 90 minutes. Some people like to take gels. Some gels have caffeine that helps to absorb the sugars in the gel quicker into the blood stream. This works well for some but others not so much if they are sensitive to caffeine. Try them in practice as that’s the best place to do it, rather than a race! Other gels have no caffeine, but you are still consuming sugars to absorb quickly. If you know you are going to need gels or sports drinks then take them on the bike section of the triathlon so that you do not have to think about needing them on the run, and also you shouldn’t need too much anyway.
On the subject of sports drinks there are many to choose from, from the flat ones to fizzy ones. As you’ll know by now, try them out in practice! And you also don’t need to buy the expensive ones either. Water is water, sugar is sugar. Have the sports drink inside your bike bottle so that you can consume whilst on the go, but on a straight piece of road where you can see what’s coming! And not when going uphill!
Before training or a race what you eat and drink is quite vast in what people like or can tolerate. Some people cannot eat anything before racing or training as they feel bloated or it upsets their stomachs, this is where gels and sugary drinks can be a benefit.
Some like to eat porridge with honey or something similar, some like toast, why not try a few things out and see what works best for you? For both conform and fuel purposes.
Post training and race it’s always good to eat some lean protein and whole, complex carbohydrates, not to mention those all-important vitamins and minerals and anti-oxidants that you find in vegetable and fruits. All of these things in balance are essential for growth, repair and homeostasis of the body. If you want to seek expert advice there are some great nutritionists and dieticians out there, so speak to one who is into sports nutrition.
If you require any help with getting your nutrition race ready, you can contact Sophie Enever.
Sophie has a Masters in Sport & Exercise Science, graduating from Loughborough University and is an accredited Nutritionist with the Association For Nutrition. She is also Level 3 Personal Trainer qualified, working with many athletes. To read more about Sophie and what she has to offer, or to contact her, please visit her website www.sophie-jane.co.uk
Sophie also works for Upbeat Active, delicious whey protein and fruit drinks – a great way to look after those muscles in the lead up to the race and on race day. If you would like some money-off coupons please see Jake or email Sophie on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can view Upbeat products at www.feelingupbeat.com and find them chilling in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado.