Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ever wondered how half iron and full iron triathletes can go so long and strong for hours?

Do they take drugs? Are they part machine? Do they have special endurance genes?

No. It's really just a combination of proper conditioning (mental and physical training) and proper nutrition. And those same things apply to shorter distance racing as well, although nutrition becomes increasingly more important the longer the event. Coach Jacklynn recommends the following tips from Ironmate's How to Prepare for a Sprnt & Olympic Distance Triathion:

Evening meal prior to race day
- Avoid any red meat the night before your triathlon because it can take up to 18 hours to fully be digested. Best to eat pasta and white meats like chicken and fish, which are easier to digest. On race morning you will then be able to eat your breakfast without too much problem.
- Try and eat your last main meal before 7pm the night before so you can fully digest it for the next morning.
- The night before, avoid drinking alcohol because it is high in empty calories; it boosts your appetite, it can also reduce your body's efficiency to burn fat. Alcohol will affect your body’s ability to keep cool during the triathlon. You could wake up on race morning already dehydrated from even small amounts of alcohol and this will impair your performance.
- Alcohol can stay in your system for more than 36 hours; if you have to drink alcohol, reduce the chances of dehydration by drinking at least 500ml of water before you go to bed.
- Drinking just plain water in the 2-3 days before your event can flush away vital minerals and salts and you could get cramps early in the event. To avoid this, drink 50/50 fruit juice/water or electrolyte drinks. These are a much better choice than plain water.
- Snack on fruits in the 2 days before and avoid going hungry.

Race morning
- Have breakfast 2-4 hours before the triathlon.
- It is normal to not feel hungry on race morning. If you feel full on race morning, just snack small amounts of fruit apples, bananas or energy bars up to 90 minutes before you are due to start.

Preferred pre-race breakfast meal.
- Toast butter with jam or honey (carbohydrate, small amount of fat and simple sugars)
- Banana for carbohydrate and potassium to help prevent cramping.
- Cereal with milk (i.e. porridge slow releasing energy with milk for protein)
- Orange Juice with water 50/50.
- Have a spare snack and extra drink should the start be delayed.

Race day
- Be prepared take your favourite bars out of their packet and stick them on to your bike frame. This will remind you to eat regularly. Some experienced triathletes actually cut them up into bite size portions then stick them on the frame and eat them at regular intervals.
- You can set the alarm on your watch to go off every 15-20 minutes to remind you to eat and drink. This will give you a constant steady intake of calories at regular intervals.
- Use what energy bars you normally have practiced with in training. Take an extra bar in case you drop some or need a few extra calories due to working harder than usual or if the conditions may be cold.

Remember, the adage "Nothing New on Race Day" means you should be practicing your nutrition during your training as well, especially on your longer weekend workouts. More useful sprint & olympic tri racing tips can be found at Ironmate.


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