Ironman Nutrition

5 Feb

My thoughts on long-course triathlon nutrition. Before we start I should point out that I’m no expert having never done an Iron Distance race. I have done some very long bikes / sportives and taken part in Iron distance relay teams as well as marshalling and manning feed stations at those events.

Depending on the event you’ll be able to drop off (more like throw) your bottles and pick up new ones at feed stations. This means that you don’t need to carry 6 bottles with you from the start. If you plan to use the on-couse nutrition then practise with it in training several times at race intensity so you know that your stomach can handle it. This is especially important if you ride an aggressive aero position where it is more difficult to digest.

Current sports science thinking recommends that you take on 1g of carbs per hour per kg of body weight. If you are not used to taking on board so much then you can build up to it over some training rides at your race intensity. This is more easily accomplished with products that contain a mix of sugars, this is because there are more enzyme pathways available in the gut to process the different sugars and more can be transferred out of the gut. Typically these products would contain multidextrin and fructose in a 2:1 ratio.

There are a few issues though. The major problem with relying on-course nutrition and particuly liquids is that the strength is very variable and dependent on who mixed it.

You may not be able to tolerate the race nutrition either. If you can’t keep it down in training there is no point picking it up in a race. Another reason to test your nutrition strategy in training.

If it was me I would carry enough calories with me on the bike in the form of gels already in a bottle and pick up water. I would have another gel bottle in special needs in case I dropped one or got really bored of the flavour of the ones I was carrying. I would need something like 18-20 gels in each bottle and I would mark that bottle so that I know how much to drink each time.


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