I firmly believe that your racing fueling strategy is both dependent on your daily diet and your efficiency as an athlete. Bottom line - If you find yourself racing at an intensity that you did not train for and can not sustain, be prepared for nutrition-related problems. If you want to race fast, you need to train your body to do so. Regardless if you are shooting for a personal best or a "just finish" experience, a well-trained, efficient body is an easy-to-fuel, and well-performing body. You don't have to run a sub-20 min. 5K or finish an Ironman in under 11 hours in order to be an efficient athlete.
Unfortunately, consuming extra energy gels, sport beans and high-calorie drinks at the aid stations of a race will not give you energy to maintain an unsustainable/untrained effort. Sadly, we can't blame everything on our race-day nutrition.
Although having an idea of what to do (or not to do) during a race can help prevent many nutrition-related problems, when was the last time you measured your fluids at an aid station (during a race) to make sure you sipped 4 ounces, every 15 minutes, to prevent cramping? Because there is a lot of information available to athletes in magazines, books and on the internet, it is no surprise that many athletes are overwhelmed when trying to create a no-fail nutrition plan.
Because race day is the culmination of weeks or months of training, it shouldn’t take a magazine article, a day or two before your race, to tell you exactly how many calories, electrolytes, amino’s, liquids or carbs your body requires to perform at your best.
My motto in life is BALANCE and I am striving for quality over quantity. Too much of one thing is never a good thing. As I continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle and try to make the most of my days here on Earth, I hope I can inspire/motivate others to do the same.
I hope you enjoy my article :)
Do you have any nutrition-related (good or bad) racing stories you'd like to share?
Understanding Your Training and Racing Nutrition
Your friends/co-workers may think your exercise routine is crazy, but it is your passion and it is, and always will be, part of your lifestyle. However, considering almost every athlete has experienced issues including GI upset and sudden fatigue or dehydration at least once during a race, perhaps it does seem a bit crazy what you put your body through to earn your race T-shirt and finisher's medal.
Your daily training and nutrition should correspond with your fitness, age, gender, dietary preferences, training volume/intensity and your environment. The most effective racing nutrition plan for you will be supported by a well-balanced diet and practical training routine. Experience and experimentation will help you find what works best for your body during a specific racing distance, so it's important determine your nutrition plan and racing goals well before race day.
Although almost everyone will have a race (and many training sessions) where they see a nutrition-related problem, seasoned athletes know how to prevent issues and also how to overcome them when they arise. As continue your multisport journey, try not to simply mimic other people's nutrition plans. Focus on yourself when you're developing your personal training and racing nutrition plan. If you stay consistent with your training and nutrition, you will slowly find what your body needs to perform at an optimal level and not just what you think it needs because you read it in a magazine.
The athlete who practices her nutrition well-before race day is destined for a great experience. With countless non-nutrition issues to consider before and during a race, your diet should be simple and the least of your worries.
Stay tuned for the next Iron Girl newsletter for easy and effective nutrition tips for your upcoming race. For now, try out some simple and popular pre-training/race snacks, which include a range of calories, to find what may work best for you.
Note: It is recommended to consume at least 12-20 ounces of water with your pre-training/race snack at least 90 minutes prior to race/training start and an additional 8-16 ounces of water (or maltodextrin-based sport drink) in the hour leading up to the activity. A tall cup of coffee may also be consumed 45 minutes prior to race/training start.
Snack examples depending on the length (amount of time) of your upcoming training session or race:
1 hour or less: 100-150 calories
Peanut butter and toast; Wasa cracker and hardboiled egg; yogurt and granola; nuts and fruit
1 to 2 hours: 125-225 calories
Oatmeal with nuts; toast w peanut butter and banana slices; whole grain cereal with berries and flaxseed
2 to 3 hours: 200-350 calories
Oatmeal with nuts and raisins; half of a bagel w with banana and peanut butter; English muffin with cheese and deli meat; brown rice with cranberries and egg whites
3 to 4 hours : 300-400 calories
Oatmeal with granola, nuts, berries and skim milk; full bagel with peanut butter; yogurt with granola, trail mix and fruit
Marni holds a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. Marni is a Level-1 USAT Coach and is currently pursuing a registered dietician degree. She is a 2007 Ford Ironman World Championship finisher and finished the Ford Ironman Louisville Triathlon on Aug. 30, 2009, in less than 11 hours. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes monthly to IronGirl.com and Beginnertriathlete.com.