READER QUESTION: HOW DO I STRATEGIZE NUTRITION?

     Hey Jeff, I have a couple questions regarding nutrition for a half ironman that I have coming up. This is my first half iron, and I feel overall pretty good about my level of training.  The other day however, I went out for a 56 mile ride and bonked pretty bad around mile 40.  I purposely went out in the heat trying to mimic conditions for the race but am concerned that I don’t have my nutrition right as far as before and during race eating/drinking. 
     Is there any specific rule that you follow? I took 3 sports gels and use powder in my bottles.  I usually take some sort of bar/chomps but didn’t for this ride. I usually just have a protein bar/piece of fruit before my workouts.
Thanks,
Andrew

Andrew, thanks for your email.  Generally speaking, we need to take in around 4 calories a minute, or 240 calories an hour, when we engage in endurance work of 90 minutes or more.  This is in addition to our stored glycogen.  Gels are about 100 calories each, but I find that I can’t tolerate more than about one an hour, so I usually take in what I can and run a calorie deficit.
On the bike things are a little looser because digestion is easier (less stress on your body because less of it is in motion; you’re sitting, after all).  I basically aim to consume as much as I can comfortably absorb while cycling, starting out with about 300 calories in the morning (you don’t want too much stomach content, or you can get side stitches).  I also aim to take in electrolytes; usually I alternate nutrition and electrolytes every half hour.
What will be best for you is to find what works for you, as you’ve been planning.  See what you can absorb and feel comfortable eating, and work your plan around that.  Some people have very specific tolerances, others are real omnivores.  The key is to just know all this before your race.

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About horowitzrun

Jeff is a certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach, and is the author of "My First 100 Marathons" (Skyhorse Press 2008) and "Smart Marathon Training" (Velo Press 2011). An obviously addicted runner, Jeff has run at least one marathon in every state and on 6 continents, including marathons in South Africa, China, Bangkok, and Antarctica. Jeff is available for group, one-on-one, and virtual coaching. Options include: 1. Basic Training Plan. This includes a customized training schedule geared towards a goal race, with a detailed running schedule that would include all distances and target times for each workout, including speedwork, tempo, and endurance sessions. 2. Complete Fitness and Race Plan. This includes the plan listed above, plus the non-running workouts and drills that runners need for better overall fitness and performance. You would get strength & core workouts, as well as run-specific training drills and stretches. 3. Virtual Coaching. This includes all of the above, implemented on a week-by-week basis. We review each week's progress at week's end so that adjustments can be made. The program is tailored to suit you right up to race day. It involves more contact, on a weekly or even daily basis. 4. Full Coaching for athletes in the Washington DC area. All of the above, plus a weekly workout together including speedwork, drills, and strength training. 5. Individual track sessions. One-on-one track-based workouts. Contact Jeff for pricing.
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