Fueling My First (Sprint) Triathlon

by Louise | July 12th, 2012 | Eating Tips

This upcoming weekend I’ll be tackling my first triathlon! Okay, okay, I admit it: it’s a sprint triathlon. I figured it wouldn’t be entirely intelligent to go for the whole shebang for my first triathlon experience, especially since I’ve never actually tried swimming across a distance larger than the length of a pool (guess what my weakness is).

The Falmouth Sprint Triathlon takes place this Saturday, July 14. The sold out 750-entrant field starts off with a 1/3-mile swim in Nantucket Sound. The swim is followed by a 9-mile scenic bike loop that will involve a few turns and some mildly rolling hills. It ends with a 3.1-mile out-and-back run along the coast, which should be scenic and thankfully, flat.

I’ve been thinking about this triathlon for a while now, and writing out my packing list, not wanting to forget a thing. Bike, helmet, swim goggles, swim suit, sunglasses, watch, etc. I was so caught up in all of the equipment for the triathlon that I hadn’t thought about food (how unlike me)! I’m not sure how the triathlon had crept up so close before I had even considered how I might want to fuel this race.

Luckily, a sprint triathlon is somewhat short. I estimate my time will be around 70 minutes, give or take five or ten minutes. In any case, it should not be longer than 90 minutes; I shouldn’t have to worry about seriously refueling during the race to avoid literally running out of energy, provided that my glycogen storage levels are high before I start the race. To make sure my energy levels are near %100 the morning of the race, I will make sure to carbo-load and hydrate well on the days that precede it. I will also make sure to take my aerobic effort on Friday night at a somewhat relaxed pace, so I will feel fresh the next morning.

During the race, I could probably even get away with consuming nothing at all (excluding the sea water I expect to swallow), but it wouldn’t result in my best performance. I asked some more experienced triathletes what they would recommend, and the answer was a simple sports drink that I could access during my bike ride. I guess that means I’ll need to practice biking while drinking sometime this week (and I thought I was ready…). Some athletes also suggested strapping an energy gel packet to the handlebars just in case I felt like I needed the extra energy. I’ll take that idea seriously as well.

After the race, I will load up on plenty of proteins and carbohydrates, and then pass out on the beach – after a proper cool down, of course.

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