Leading up to this season, because the targets were longer races including Half Marathon’s, Marathon’s, and Half Ironman’s, I started paying A LOT more attention to nutrition, especially pre-race prepping. I have an iffy digestive system. It’s not that I cannot handle most things, but the timing is crucial. Not to be TOO graphic, my digestive system is pretty fast (which is amazing that I gain any weight at all), so the time between eating and race start is crucial to watch. I can’t hack too heavy of a meal first thing in the morning, especially not at 4 AM when most of the wake up calls occur. I then usually get hungry during the swim and when first starting the bike, but tended last season to “forget” to eat or drink, which then screwed my run up even more than it normally is after a long haul.
During the 5 week training for the Florida 70.3 my coach, KC, gave me a good tip on setting my Garmin timer for ten minutes, so that every time it went off I would take a sip of drink. This worked FANTASTIC (can’t believe I didn’t think of that), and to the point that by race day I was doing it subconsciously every time the watch went off. EAting was still a struggle though.
It has been a year long phase of testing different gels, water enhancer’s, pills, fruits, etc. trying to figure out my optimal plan, but I think I am finally zoning in.
The first thing I attacked was the hydration. I needed to find a drink, besides water, that didn’t upset my gut, but that gave me what I needed to get through the race and into the run feeling like I had some energy in the tank. I tried sports drinks like Ironman (too “thick”) and gatorade (worked in run only races but not so much in triathlon’s) before settling on three things.
Water is the first thing. Just plain water. Easy peezy. I always have one bottle with just the plain stuff ready to go.
The second one is PowerAde Zero. Regular PowerAde is too sweet for me while sweating, but the Zero is light enough to sit well, plus you can dilute it with water and it doesn’t change the taste or texture too much.
The third is an odd one, and is CHEAP. At Walmart they have a brand of items labeled Great Value, and within them you can find water enhancers. I have used the powder and they work great to give plain water an extra something. Another thing I have found recently is the liquid enhancers.
They come in many flavors, are easily carried, light in taste (which you can control), and include B12, 34, B6, etc. for energy with NO sugar added. Outstanding.
The other item I discovered is Pre-Race.
Pre-Race is basically caffeine. One scoop (which is teeny) is 200mg. And man do you feel it. The only thing bad about this is that it doesn’t mix very well, and takes a lot of shaking in the beginning and during to keep it from collecting in the bottom. It adds a bit of “bitterness” to the taste of the drink (although is claims to be flavorless), but not to the point that it is off-putting. I usually drink this mixed in PowerAde Zero in the morning and keep one bottle with it mixed in for the training or race, just in case.
During the race I have found that I just cannot eat anything solid. At times I have been able to eat a banana during the run, but even that has messed me up, so I try to steer clear of them unless I am really hurting. I tried fig newton’s during the 70.3 but it was like a big ball of dry dough in my mouth. I wanted them to work bad because I was HUNGRY, but after the first one I couldn’t stomach trying another. So I went back to my stand-by attack, which has worked for me from the beginning.
The first are Clif Blocks.
I started using these during my half marathon training last year and they worked very well. I prefer the caffeine aided flavors of Orange and Black Cherry, but the plain ones are very good also. The only one I didn’t like was the Maragarita, which is sodium packed. I don’t have a sodium issue, so the salty taste of it put me off.
As far as Gels go I have tried a lot of them, starting with Hammer, then Gu’s, then some off brands like Kona and Power, but kept coming back to Hammer.
The texture is a bit thick, which puts some people off, but I like it because it feels like you’re eating something. The flavors are varied enough to give you something new, but my faves are the banana and huckleberry. A quick shot of these with water chaser works very well.
I am fully open to suggestions in regards to this, so feel free to comment away. I have 120 days (give or take) until Augusta 70.3. Plenty of time to test out brands and methods.