"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
Triathlon Nutrition & Hydration Information
Nutrition and hydration are crucial components of successful triathlon training AND of a successful triathlon race day. Here is
what you need to know:
Realize that this isn't just about what you do WHILE you are training or racing. It is a THREE stage process. You need to
pre-hydrate BEFORE your train/race; you need to hydrate WHILE you train/race; and you need to re-hydrate AFTER you
In order to PRE-HYDRATE, each and every day, you need to be taking in half your weight in ounces of WATER in order to
establish a healthy "base" of hydration. I did NOT just say "take in half your weight in ounces of liquids." I said, "take in half your
weight in ounces of WATER." This means that nothing but water counts. All your lattes, chais, sodas, fruit juice drinks, etc. do
NOT count. They are ADDITIONAL fluids. You need to be taking in half your weight in ounces of WATER in additional to whatever
else you are drinking in a day. Furthermore, if you are drinking things that DE-hydrate you LIKE coffee and alcohol, you need to
drink an ADDITIONAL 8 ounces of water (above and beyond your base number of ounces per day) to re-coup for each cup of
coffee or alcohol that you drink.
During training/racing, you need to HYDRATE properly by taking in 8-16 ounces of water per hour WHILE exercising. This range
depends upon your degree of exertion and the temperature. If you are expending more energy and/or it is really hot, you need to
move up to the 16 ounce range; if you are taking it easier and it is cooler, you can get away with 8 ounces of water per hour.
It is VERY important that you remember to RE-HYDRATE after training/racing. This means, that once you have comPLETED your
racing/training for the day, you take in the requisite half your weight in ounces of water in addition to what you have expended
during training/racing. By making sure that you "re-hydrate," you will help your body recover from the stress of your
If you are doing LESS THAN 2 HOURS of training/racing, water alone is sufficient. If you will be doing MORE than 2 hours of
training/racing, then you will want to consider adding in an "electrolyte replacement" beverage like Gatoraid, Poweraid,
Perpetuum, etc. If you add this in, you should take in water only for the first hour and then alternate between 8 ounces of
electrolyte, 8 ounces of water for the duration of your exercise.
Remember that when you take in fluids, you should always take consistent, small sips rather than infrequent big gulps. If you get
muscle cramps, side stitches, or nausea, this is an indication that you are UNDER hydrated and need to PRE-HYDRATE more
thoroughly and HYDRATE more regularly during exercise.
Once again, you need to think of this as a THREE-STAGE process. The 1-2 days before you train/race, you should make sure to
"carbo-load." You accomplish this by eating a dinner high in complex carbohydrates (brown rice or whole wheat pasta). On the
morning of your training/racing, you need to eat a power breakfast of whole grain carbs - whole oats, whole grain cereal, etc.
After you comPLETE your training/racing, you should eat a high-carb meal of whole grains to help your body recover from the
If you will be comPLETing your training/racing in less than two hours, then the pre-race/training carbo loading that you do will be
sufficient. If your training/racing will take MORE than two hours, then you need to think about adding some nutrition DURING your
training. As long as you have PRE-HYDRATED and CARBO-LOADED before hand, you can exercise for 2 hours with fluids alone.
At the two hour point, you should take on some carbs. Your choices are:
1) Carb Gels (GU; Hammer Gel; Cliff Shots; Carb Boom) - these have the consistency of syrup and digest in 15minutes. They are
for people interested in speed.
2) Fuel Bars (Power Bar; Cliff Bars; etc) - these CLAIM to be like candy bars but are a disgusting combination of a granola bar
and taffy. They digest in 30 minutes and are appropriate for slower triathletes.
3) Cliff Blocks/ Sharkies - these have the consistency of gummy bears and are great for those people that can't stomach the gels.
They digest in 15-30 minutes.
Here is my STRONG suggestion for what to do before and during the Danskin:
1) Eat a high carb dinner on Saturday night.
2) Race morning: since you will be getting up early, eat a high carb breakfast upon arising at 5:00a.m. ish
3) Bring a Carb Bar (either Cliff Bar or Power Bar - whichever you prefer) OR a whole wheat bagel. You will eat this right before
your swim wave starts.
4) Suck down a GEL or Shot Block (of your choice) 15 minutes before you finish the bike (at about the ¾ point of the bike course)
so that it kicks in just as you are starting the run.
Please remember that for a Sprint Distance Triathlon (which the Danskin is), merely drinking enough water before and during the
race AND eating a power dinner the night before AND eating a power breakfast the morning of the race AND eating a power
snack immediately before race start is sufficient. If you WANT to get technical about things, follow the previous four suggestions.
BUT, if you ARE going to add Electrolytes and Gels, you MUST START EXPERIMENTING NOW!!!!!!!! Start incorporating them into all of
your trainings and see what you can tolerate and what you prefer.
At the VERY least, start experimenting with what breakfast is palatable for you and what you can stomach immediately before a
work-out (bagel, carb bar, granola bar, etc.) This means that before EACH Lake Swim and Brick, you should eat the breakfast
you plan to eat 1-2 hours before the training and then eat the "pre-race snack" that you plan to eat 15 minutes before the
swim/brick. Start doing this THIS week, so that you can see what your stomach can handle and what makes you feel the most
Let me know if you have any questions.