Fuelling for a triathlon race is almost as important as the individual disciplines themselves. You have to think about the days before and after that enable you to get the most out of yourself on the day, and to make sure you recover well enough to go again.
Build up to race-day
In the lead up to a race I try and keep my main meals as normal as possible, with the exception of the day before where I look to get a greater percentage of carbohydrate in my meals. One thing my coach always reminds me is to sip on energy drinks such as GO Electrolyte throughout the days leading up to the race, this is known as ‘carbohydrate loading’ and is a great method to load energy stores. The days before my races are often fairly busy, therefore it is easy to forget to eat and drink sufficient amounts. My appetite sometimes decreases due to tapering for a race (decreasing my training load), but it’s really important to keep your energy levels high, because carbohydrate is the main fuel for endurance performance! I have made the mistake before of being under-fuelled for a race, in fact at the European Cup in Madrid I ended up downing all my race fuel on the first lap of the bike – I was so sapped of energy and it put me on the back foot from the off.
For the race itself I will use GO Electrolyte to keep my energy levels up. Currently my favourite flavour is Lemon & Lime and I will probably only use one 500ml Science in Sport bottle for this on the bike. The other bottle I will fill with water, which allows me to spray some over myself if it’s particularly hot. You can’t do this with an energy drink, unless you want a sticky head for the rest of the race! I will also attach an isotonic gel or two to my bike for an energy boost. The GO Isotonic Energy Gels are great and perfect for racing as they go down really well because of the isotonic formula, unlike other gels, which are highly concentrated. There is an argument of dehydration vs weight (from taking on board excess fluid), so it’s important to find out what works for you, and don’t take on board too much or too little, both of which can have detrimental impacts to performance. I regularly weigh myself in training and aim not to lose more than 2-3% of my body mass. I’ll mimic this strategy on race day.
Finally I’ll take an Protein Bar along-with some REGO Rapid Recovery powder to recover afterwards. This provides me with protein for muscle rebuild, carbohydrate to replace my energy, as well as vitamins and minerals to help my immune system.
My final bit of advice would be to practice your race fuelling in training, so your body can become used to what it’s taking on board, perhaps a good opportunity would be a brick session (stacking of two disciplines during the same workout) e.g running and cycling or swimming and running.