Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First Oly - nutrition and recovery

I wanted to document my nutrition and recovery from my first OD triathlon, so I can look back and see what worked and learn from the race that was.

Race nutrition
My nutrition plan was based on the fact that I knew I was going to be out there for over 3 hours and wanted to take on approximately 30g of carbs or 120cals per hour. This may not work for you, so please make sure you try any nutrition plan in training first - which is exactly what I've been doing over the last few months.

For training sessions longer than 90 minutes, I always eat within the first 60 and again at approximately 30 minutes intervals from there.  During races, however, my heart rate is a lot higher so I have to slightly modify my plan of attack.  On Sunday, I combined my intakes into a frequent feeding plan, which meant I consumed ~60g carbs over the bike leg. This took me up to the 2+hour mark, so it was perfect timing wise. As my heart rate is always higher in race situation, I use small bite size pieces of my homemade energy bars and dried dates, which were ready to go in my bento box. I came off the bike ready to run and the legs were surprisingly ok. My final intake just had to be a gel as there's no way I can consume solids while running, even in training. My average heart rate for the 10km was 161bpm, so needless to say, breathing and getting to each water station was my priority! I took the gel (20g carbs; 80 calories) at the 6km mark, which was enough to get me home in 58 minutes - 2 minutes under my goal 10km time. I know a lot of people, including myself, are against gels, but the practicality of them is just second to none. I personally only use them as an emergency, or in races when I have no other option. I have some fantastic natural gels which I highly recommend, so if you are interested in finding out more, please feel free to contact me.

Post-race, I was high as a kite. The endorphins were flying and my hunger was nowhere to be found. It may have been something to do with the upset stomach I had pre-race, but I'm not going to go into details. For future reference though, it was either the food I carbloaded with at the wedding, race nerves, or both. There's a first time for everything - I just hope it doesn't happen too often, as the one thing SuperSprint have to do is sort out their bathroom situation on race day!

Importantly though, post-race, I kept eating small frequent meals and staying hydrated all afternoon. I made the decision to rest the legs instead of heading out to celebrate and took Monday off training all together.

Two days post-race
The good news is that I'm feeling fresh as a daisy! I was a little tired and emotional on Sunday night and yesterday morning, but I think that was more to do with having my Mum and twin sister here all weekend, a wedding the night before I raced and nowhere near my required minimum of 7 hours sleep. So whilst it wasn't the ideal race prep, I am happy with how I have pulled up. I rode this morning (just a cruisy 35km) and the legs feel great. I'm pretty ravenous today, but the key for me is just to go with it. Lots of natural nutrition, water and sleep is the best recovery in my books.

So overall, my nutrition and recovery has been a success. On that note, it's time for lunch!


  1. Steph, interesting read. Nutrition was where i failed on race day. I've done 2-3 hr training sessions and never had anything but water, obviously i wasn't training hard (ie race pace). When i got to the run i had nothing left and instead of going sub i knew i could, i went 1:10... (2nd half of bike also fell apart - but blaming wind somewhat for that also).
    I've been looking at my OD training and nutrition needs to be part of it!!
    Looks like it's time to starting trying gels.

    Cheers Tweeting Timbo.

    1. Hi Tim,

      Training on an empty stomach is the trick to becoming more efficient at burning fat as a source of fuel, but I wouldn't recommend that for you (or myself!) just get. Nutrition really is the fourth discipline, so can I suggest you try fuelling at 60 and then every 30 from there? What did you have on the bike on Sunday? Wind = more effort = more calories burnt = more calories required! If you lost 20 minutes on your run, you definitely "hit the wall" and now you know how long your glycogen stores last - which is a positive at least! :)

  2. Hey Steph,

    Thanks for the feedback. I had a Gatorade pre-swim, about 1/4 a Gatorade at T1, 1/2 a banana while riding, and 1/4 Gatorade at T2. Based on how i felt during the race, i think i was out of energy at about 35k on the bike, so about 2hr race time.

    So what i need to establish through my training and trial and error is what i can stomach pre-event and how long it's going to keep me going, and re-fuel before that point happens.

    Thanks again.

  3. Great outlook - trial and error is the key! Love to hear how you go.

    All the best, Steph :)