What causes, prevents, and eliminates cramping is a subject for discussion in other columns; just know that some athletes swear by electrolyte tablets.
If you decide to consume these tablets, you need to consume the appropriate amount of liquid so that you create a solution that can be absorbed by your body.
Consuming too much water without electrolytes can cause a condition called hyponatremia. Your goal during Ironman training and racing should never be to simply consume as much water as possible. There must be a balance.
There are also experts that believe sodium citrate is a better choice than sodium chloride, but this subject is also best left for another column.
Electrolyte tablet use is as individual as eating and drinking. You may or may not find them useful.
Do You Need Protein on Race Day?
Experiment with this in training. Find out how your body reacts to protein during a long workout. There are successful athlete testimonials for both situations.
Should You Try a Fluid-Only Ironman Nutrition Plan?
This is another category for individual preferences. Some athletes swear they can only tolerate liquid sources of fuel on race day. Others can eat nearly anything in racing and training.
Experiment with different fuel types and combinations during training to see what works best for you.
The Bottom Line
Test it in training and learn what works for you. Just like you know your training pace and time, be aware of your training nutrition practices—write them down. Then, use that information to write down a race-day fueling and hydration plan. Be ready and willing to make modifications to the plan during the race if something is not going well.
Because you know that nutrition and hydration practices are individual, you can ignore all of the chatter about it in the days leading up to the race. Have confidence in your personal plan and your ability to calmly solve problems on race day. Have a great race ~
More informationIronman Event.
Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Games in Sydney. She currently serves as one of the World Cup coaches for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow cycling and triathlon training plans. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.