News Letter April 2011
 

Over the last few months I’ve had many queries around the subject of nutrition so for this Newsletter I thought I’d focus on the most frequently asked question:

Q. What should I eat whilst racing?

Putting aside any preferences for flavour/taste there are some basic guidelines for fuelling the body for exercise and several practicalities to eating whilst on the hoof… or more specifically, whilst running or on the bike.

  • Although specific energy requirements are dictated by intensity & duration of activity, it is generally accepted that if you are exercising for more than 35-40 minutes you should take onboard some food to replenish blood sugar. Yes, it is possible to increase this time-frame through training, however benefits mostly result from food management rather than physiological conditioning. Given that we are mostly in the business of Triathlon, someone racing even a Sprint distance event would benefit from an energy drink.
  • Ensure you are fully fuelled and hydrated before the start of your race. A proper breakfast is enormously beneficial if you are racing in the morning. Porridge oats with dried-fruits and honey is an excellent choice. Try to avoid too many processed sugars as these may induce an insulin-spike and leave your blood-sugar lower than optimal.
  • An energy drink may not provide much hydration so if you are doing a long event, be sure to carry water + hydration salts as well as energy drink.
  • Not all foods are equal…. both in terms of nutritional content and digestibility. This is very important when you consider that during exercise, the activity and effectiveness of the digestive system is much reduced.
  • Apart from someone I know who swam [part of] the English Channel, I don’t know anyone else who has taken on food whilst swim racing. For triathlon have an energy-drink at hand as soon as you enter transition T1.
  • Whilst cycling at race-pace, a rough guide is to consume something every 10km or 30minutes. Grazing or little & often is better than one huge input every hour.
  • Choose foods that are easy to chew and/or drink and handle. When doing long bike events I tend to match foods with the terrain and/or intensity of effort. For example, take Energy Gels when doing a hilly and/or aggressive ride and take more substantial foods (cake, jam sandwiches, nutri-bars) when doing the more sedate lower-intensity rides.
  • Most people find it uncomfortable to eat whilst on the run, and some simply cannot eat at all. This means relying on energy drinks rather than other foods. If you are the latter and doing a Triathlon, the best opportunity to refuel will be during the bike leg. Learn to do it properly!
  • Not all race organisers provide energy/food stations so check it out well in advance. If you are relying on these be sure to do your training with the same brand/energy/food products. Also be familiar with how many food stations and their location.
  • One final consideration…. If doing a longer event (6 hours or more), it’s highly likely that you will need to stop for a toilet-break (yep, a #2)…. Don’t forget your loo-paper!

As you can imagine, this is a huge topic and highly subjective, however I hope these tips have been helpful.

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Happy racing!

Colin

Mob: 07545 – 115562
www.speedyduck.com