Last week we wrote about the differences between a Triathlon Sprint, Olympic, Long Course and an Ironman, but how do you even start training for them? There is a lot of running, swimming and biking involved as any triathlete will tell you. But there is another key ingredient to training that might not be obvious right away: Eating.
Keep a food log: This is a great way to track your eating habits, notice that you have a double Mocha Frappuccino around 3 every work day? Or that after a big meal you just have to have ice cream? Make sure you track how you are feeling as well, this can help you recognize coping strategies for stress or anxiety. Cookies are great, but not as a way to combat stress.
Carbs: Remember to CARB UP. This is not a time to be gluten free or paleo. You need your carbs before and after an intense workout, they are your body's preferred fuel source and you want every gram of carbohydrate you consume to be utilized as an immediate fuel source or to restore glycogen levels—you don't want it to be stored as fat. So carb up before and after a work out!
Fruits and Veggies: Don’t forget the important stuff! Fruit is full of antioxidants and vitamin C which will keep you healthy for the training season. Veggies are full of fiber and other vitamins that your body needs to draw on during intense workouts. Remember, you are putting your body through new and intense experiences, give it the fuel it needs to protect itself.
Recover right. Consume half a gram of carbs per pound of body weight, and 15–20 grams of protein within 30–60 min after training sessions or races.
Before the race: Eat a healthy balanced breakfast 2-3 hours before the race. Your body needs time to digest and take on nutrients before you start. You don’t want to be full and bloated for the race, but you also don’t want to be hungry. The 2-3 hour rule is right around the sweet spot.
During the race: You are definitely going to need sustenance for a triathlon. Some people don’t like to eat for a shorter distance like a sprint, but it is definitely recommended to bring something on board for Olympic, Long Course and Ironmans. During the Swim, you may only want to take on a sports drink (May we suggest INVIGORADE?) or some energy gel. The Bike part of the race should be when you fuel up with a sandwich, or some other form of solid foods. You can also have two water bottles on your bike, one for water (STAY HYDRATED) and one for INVIGORADE (STAY AWESOME). Finally the Run portion of the race is what will really deplete your energy. This is the time when you need energy and you need it fast. You don’t want to take on too much weight while you run, but packing some light weight fuel (dried fruit, INVIGORADE, a power bar) can fit nicely into your running belt and will help you finish this last stretch to the finish line!
So there you have it. Remember, practice makes perfect, find the foods that keep you going throughout the energy slumps, find what makes you feel strongest and #KeepItUp! (and hey, Mom's turkey sandwiches are what fuels you, no shame there!)
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