When you are participating in shorter distance triathlons, you can typically get away with making some nutrition mistakes, but during a half Ironman, that’s not an option. Nutrition is extremely important.
Nutrition training is just as important as your physical training. You should develop a plan and follow it with the same amount of attention that you do your run, bike and swim training. The goal of your bike leg in a 70.3 Ironman is to set you up for a great run. If you have kept your nutrition under control during your training (and during the race), you will complete the 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of riding, and 13.1 miles of running strong and with minimal slow down.
When you hear athletes say they didn’t have a good half Ironman, one big reason why is because their nutrition was not the best. Here are a few general rules of how to make your nutrition ideal for a 70.3 before and during your race.
BEFORE YOUR RACE:
- Get Enough Calories – If you are training for a half Ironman, now is not the time to go on a diet. You need to eat enough calories to fuel your workouts and build your muscle mass. Most of your calories should come from carbs – nearly 60 percent. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy when working out for a long period of time. Complex carbs (whole-grain bread and cereals, beans, pasta and potatoes) are best.
- Repair Your Muscles with Protein – 10 to 15 percent of your calories should come from protein to repair and build the muscles you’re training. The protein will also help keep your immune system strong to keep you healthy.
- Fat is Good – But limit the amount of fat from food high in saturated fat. You should be choosing the healthy sources of fat such as seeds, fatty fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
- Meals During Training – Make sure you eat healthy meals regularly throughout the day – particularly a high-carb, low-fat, low-fiber meal a few hours before each training session. Then a few hours after each training session you should eat a high-carb, low-fat meal with some protein.
DURING YOUR RACE
- For a half Ironman, try to drink at least one bottle of fluid per hour while you are on the bike; but do it slowly – drink 6–8 ounces every 15–20 minutes.
- Do you have tracks of dried salt on your face after a workout? If you do, sports drinks will ensure adequate sodium replacement to prevent cramping. If not, alternating between water and sports drink will be fine.
- Aim for about 60 grams of total carbohydrates per hour during the race (sports drinks, gels, energy chews and bars all count).
- Set the alarm on your watch for every 15 minutes to remind yourself to eat and drink.
These are the basics of staying on a good nutrition plan for a half Ironman. If you follow these basic steps, you’ll be well on your way to completing a great event. If you’d like help making a personalized nutritional and training plan, contact me today. I can help you get started on your next half Ironman today!
Train Right, Tri Right!