How I fuelled seven hours of triathlon

Let’s chat about food!

Eating is definitely one of my favourite activities. Someone once asked me what I would do if I only had 24 hours left to live and without a break I said ‘eat’. LOL. However, nutrition is something that I still struggle with, especially around how to properly fuel a race so that I don’t crash and burn, or end up stuffed and lethargic. It was a particular concern going into The Gauntlet half-iron triathlon on the weekend, because the race time was much longer than I’ve ever spent exercising in one go, and I didn’t know how I would have the energy to keep going the whole way.

The final strategy I used was largely put together by Sye in the tent on Saturday afternoon. Talk about last minute! It also meant that I travelled up to the race with every single gel, energy bar and drink mix I owned ‘just in case’ I’d need it. Too funny. However, this was the first race I’ve done in a long time where my energy levels were perfect the entire time, and I think that has a lot to do with the nutrition plan I ended up following.

May have overpacked for a weekend away…

Here’s how I fuelled the tri:

Breakfast
Makeshift banana and honey wrap (as there was no hot water for oats) and a Banana & Honey flavour Up&Go

40min before swim
Tribe Blaze Trails Sour Cherry & Buckwheat bar. I love Tribe products because they’re made with natural ingredients, taste great without being sweet – plus I know the team and they are ace 👌

During T1
Half a Tribe Classic Infinity bar. Was planning on eating the whole thing but the guy on the transition line told me off for ‘not having common sense’ so I stuck the rest in my jersey pocket.

On the bike
Energy drink and solid foods only. I had backup gels in my pocket in case it went wrong, but the idea was to stick with proper food while cycling (where your stomach is less likely to complain).

In my large front bottle I had High5 Energy Source Plus which contains caffeine, and sipped this throughout the cycle. I also had water in my back bottle in case I craved something less sweet, but I found that the High5 drink tasted fine. Eventually I swapped out the water for more High5 drink at one of the aid stations, although I didn’t drink any of it on the ride.

For food I was carrying a mixed-bag of caramel brownie bites and dates (a definite favourite of mine for a quick, natural sugar hit), a High5 Energy Bar and some spare gels just in case. The brownie bites and dates turned out to be impossible to eat on the go, but I did scoff quite a few during stops on the pucture saga! As for the bars, they turned out to be a surprise hit and I gladly picked up a few more at a feed station on lap 2, along with half a banana.

During the run
I had preloaded my race belt with three gels for the run, choosing my tried-and-true favourites of SiS GO Isotonic Energy Gels (Orange) and GU Energy Gels (Jet Blackberry with caffeine) which have seen me through every marathon to date. I took a gel at 5km and another at 12km, and took a small drink of either water, electrolyte drink or (on the last lap) flat coke ever ~4km. This is the one section where I was feeling quite full, and probably didn’t need all of the gels, however it broke the run into small sections which was a huge benefit.

Enough energy to crack out a final sprint!

Post-race
First thing is always to eat all the free stuff they give you! This time: fruit, plain and coconut water. I also ate a Tribe 10 Bogoya Banana bar (with 10g protein), and then had a proper meal within an hour of finishing.

My nutrition strategy definitely played a main role in my being able to smash out every section of the tri last weekend. It seemed to work well for me to eat more real food, and I now want to find a way to rely less on gels during my marathons as well. Any recommendations?

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