Did you know that there are four parts to any triathlon? Sure, there's the swim, bike and run. But the fourth leg of a triathlon is nutrition. If you don't get the nutrition part correct, chances are that the other parts of the race won't matter.
More: The Fourth Discipline
Here are the top five secret triathlon nutrition tips to race like a pro:
1. There's no such thing as a sprint triathlon.
When you think about it, a true sprint triathlon would be 100-yard swim, once around a velodrome (a race track for cycling) and a 100-yard sprint. How long do you suppose all that would take? Perhaps a few minutes at most.
Instead, a traditional sprint triathlon, especially for amateur triathletes, takes a couple of hours. That means that you need to take in food and drink during the race to get the best possible performance out of your body.
More: Race-Day Nutrition for Sprint and Olympic-Distance Triathlons
2. The big carb-loading meal should be eaten two nights before the race.
The most recent science suggests that filling up on carbs the night before a big race is a bad idea. Not only is it hard for your body to process all of the carbs to the fullest benefit, but you will probably have a hard time sleeping with a bucket of pasta in your stomach the night before the race.
Instead, a light meal, of something that you know your body will easily tolerate, is the way to go before race day.
More: Dave Scott on Pre- and Mid-Race Nutrition
3. Create a triathlon nutrition plan and stick with it.
Know when you are going to eat, what you are going to eat and how much you are going to eat during the race.
All pro triathletes know exactly how many and what types of calories they will be eating during the race. If it is a short race, like a sprint or Olympic-distance triathlon, chances are that a pro might stick with gels and power drinks.
When the races get longer, like half or full iron-distance race, the triathlon nutrition plan becomes as important, if not more important, than the swim, bike or run portions of the race.
More: Triathlon Nutrition Myths and Misconceptions