Every detail of your triathlon training program was followed. You rested and recovered properly and never missed a workout. And yet here you are, half way through an Ironman 70.3 race and your body is shutting down.
Proper training, rest and recovery aren't the only essential ingredients for triathletes moving from an Olympic-distance to an Ironman 70.3 race. Nutrition is critical as well; and without it your body might not let you cross that finish line.
Before you step up your triathlon distance, take a look at five common nutrition mistakes to avoid.
1. Underestimating the core requirements you need.
It sounds logical enough. If you run, bike and swim longer distances, your body will need more fuel to keep it going.
And yet, underestimating the core requirements your body needs is among the most common mistakes made by triathletes who move from sprint- and Olympic-distance triathlons to Ironman 70.3 races, says Jesse Kropelnicki, an elite-level triathlon coach who founded QT2 Systems.
Educate yourself, plan and practice your nutrition intake before race day or you might fall short of your 70.3 goals.
Triathletes might have success consuming carbs that contain a single simple sugar source during shorter distance races. It's not nearly enough at the Ironman 70.3 race distance.
More: Your 10 Point Plan to Boost Nutrition
Triathletes who only consume carbs with simple sugars might struggle to maintain their endurance when they try to step up to long-distance races, Kropelnicki says.
Kropelnicki suggest a blend of carbs (high and low glycemic) during long distance races. On race day, consume fuel, such as power bars or power gels that contain a blend of carbs with a combination of maltodextrin, dextrose and fructose. Nutrition that has a blend of carbs will allow you to get the calories you need with reduced stomach distress.
3. Sodium intake.
Triathletes moving up to the Ironman 70.3 distance need to increase their sodium intake from the 800- to 1,200-milligram-an-hour range up to the 1,600-mg to 2,500-mg range depending on sweat rate and sodium content in sweat, says Kropelnicki, who coaches professional athletes Caitlin Snow and Ethan Brown, among others.
Triathletes who don't consume enough sodium during the race may experience cramping or digestive issues.
More: Real Foods for Race Day
4. Don't skip the big three
To compete and complete an Ironman 70.3 race, triathletes must hydrate and consume carbs and sodium during the race. That trio is critical, Kropelnicki says.
Caffeine also is a great performance enhancer that increases energy and delays fatigue, although it isn't required.
For those who decide to include caffeine in their race-day nutrition regimen, be warned. Too much caffeine can cause problems such as nausea and headaches.
5. Fat and fiber.
Too much of either, will wreak havoc on your stomach and digestive system.
Foods high in fat tend to slow digestion and metabolism, weighing you down during the race. Your body will tap into your existing fat stores for energy. Peanut butter and oatmeal are examples of food to avoid on race day, says Kropelnicki.
Instead, consume food that is low-fat, low-fiber and high-carbohydrate.
More: How to Reduce GI Distress on Race Day
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