Nutrition is an often overlooked aspect of training for triathletes. But whether it's a lack of energy or digestive distress, improper nutrition can derail your training, and even disrupt your performance on race day.
Following the advice of seasoned professional triathletes can help curtail an otherwise painful period of nutritional trial and error. In a recent interview, Sarah Haskins, an Olympic triathlete, revealed nutritional strategies that have helped her over the years, and can help you maintain good nutrition all season long.
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It All Starts With Breakfast
To begin, Haskins stresses the importance of an adequate breakfast. “One thing I’ve increased over the years is a bigger breakfast before my first workout. I have plain oatmeal and I usually add honey to it, peanut butter, maybe a little bit of almonds or cereal for crunch, and a banana. Then I mix it all together. That’s first breakfast.”
After her first workout of the day, Haskins will have a second breakfast of toast or an omelet, depending on how intense and aerobic her second workout will be. Breaking up the calories between workouts helps her "avoid stomach distress" and keeps her feeling "light and energized" all day long.
In the afternoons, she snacks on fruit, nuts, and yogurt, followed by a dinner of lean proteins, vegetables, and possibly more fruits. “I do try to eat healthy,” she maintains. But she's not without her guilty pleasures.“I like dark chocolate.
"Actually, I love dark chocolate.”
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Fueling for Your Race
The day before a race, Haskins keeps her diet the same, only adjusting her hydration and sodium intake. On race day, she varies her nutrition slightly. “Race morning, I’ll typically have toast with peanut butter and banana and honey on it. Then during the race I’ll have a gel. After the race I’ll try to make sure I get in a recovery drink.”
Because most of her races are in the morning, she usually only has to tweak her breakfast; however, if she’s racing later in the day, she will typically have oatmeal in the morning, followed by a second light breakfast that is easy to digest.
Preparation is key. Haskins suggests packing plenty of snacks and liquids to consume during travel to races. "If I've learned one thing over the years, it's travelling smart and really paying attention to my nutrition on the road."
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Nutrition doesn't just help you fuel, it also plays a huge role in recvoery. “After a long or hard workout,” Haskin explains, “I try to refuel with a liquid that has carbohydrates and protein to immediately get those nutrients back into my body.”
Early in her career Haskins learned the hard way how important it is to adequately recover with proper nutrition. “If you have a hard workout and don’t refuel yourself, it just impedes your performance of the next workout and you find yourself really hungry a couple of hours later.”
Proper nutrition can not only make the difference between mediocre performance and a personal best, but it can also be the difference between an enjoyable race experience and a miserable one.
More: Swimming for Recovery
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