Monday, June 7, 2010

Fueling During Training and Racing Part 1

One of the most common questions triathletes and runners ask me is what they should eat when training and racing. The answer is not real simple. That is why I am going to discuss it in two different blog posts. This way you, the reader won't get bored and I will get a break writing it! First I will talk about the various options and provide you with some basic information. In the next blog post I will talk about how to fuel during some of the longer events such as marathons, ultra marathons, half ironman and full ironman events.

When trying to figure out what to drink or eat when training keep in mind everybody is different. A lot of times it takes several trial efforts to find something that works for you. I have mentioned before in previous blog posts what I do for longer events and that works really good for me. I figured it out through trial and many errors!

First lets talk about all the products out there. I use gels that have less simple sugars in them. These work better for me. The ones I prefer are Hammer and GU. Some of the gels have caffeine, 2X caffeine, sodium, and 2X sodium. For longer events be careful if all of your gels are double caffeine. That could be a problem if you are doing an Ironman and taking a gel every hour or so and you get all jacked up on caffeine. Also remember caffeine can dehydrate you. In longer events I will take a few gels with caffeine and I do those only a couple times throughout the day. Most of the gels I consume don't contain caffeine. Keep in mind some sports drinks contain caffeine and sodium. You really need to read everything because you could be overdoing it on some things. When I am training longer than 4 hours I will use a sports drink that is slightly higher in calories than my electrolyte drink. For longer training I use a product by Hammer Nutrition called Sustained Energy Drink. It has a little protein as well as maltodexrin as a carbohydrate. It does not contain simple sugars. There are some similar products to this called Endurox or Accelerade. These do contain some simple sugars and I am sure they taste better. I don't tolerate a lot of simple sugars when training for longer events. I don't seem to digest them well and it causes stomach distress. Since the Sustained Energy Drink does not contain many electrolytes I add a scoop of Heed to this product. There is actually a company out there that will create your product specifically the way you want it. The website is You tell them what you want and they make it for you! I have not used the product but have clients who have and they all liked it.

You will also need to consider where you will be racing or training. You may need to adjust your usual requirements if you are in a very hot or humid area. It is likely you will need to drink more frequently in those conditions. Some of my athletes tend to forget to drink or eat when training and racing. They get caught up in the moment and at the end of the day of training they realize they did not drink or eat enough. I tell them to go by a schedule. In the summer drink every 5-10 minutes depending on the head or humidity and the person. In the cooler weather drink every 15 minutes. This will vary person to person. The best thing to do is consult with a trainer or coach for your specific requirements. On average every 45-60 minutes you will want to take in a gel or part of a bar for training or racing lasting over 90 minutes. If your training is less than 90 minutes you could easily get by with water or a lower calorie electrolyte drink like Heed. If your training is over 90 minutes then depending on your weight, size you may need anywhere from 200-500 calories every hour. You might think that is a pretty wide range but there are all sizes of people. I personally do best on 200-300 calories an hour when on the bike. When running I try and get in about 150-200. If you are training for a marathon is is really important to find out what they will be serving on the course. I tell people to train with that product and make sure you can tolerate it. If you can't then you will need to think about another option like wearing a fuel belt. I personally don't like to do this but in some cases you don't have an option. You don't want any surprises on race day! I am training a girl who is getting ready for a marathon and has been using gatorade in her training because that is what they were going to serve on the course. At the last minute they changed to powerade without telling anyone just posting it on the website. You may think this is not a big deal but for some people it is! The most important thing you can do is to do nothing new race day. Your breakfast race morning should be close to what you eat before training. Race morning meal is not such a big deal for shorter distance events. Eating about 2hours before your race is usually good if it is a sprint or olympic distance. If you are doing a longer event then you should wake up in enough time to eat 3 hours before the event and you should have a good mix of complex carboydrates and protein. You should not eat a lot of fat race morning. Then keep water with you until the race begins. About 30-40 minutes before the race starts eat a small bar or gel.

I will talk in more detail about fueling for longer distance events in a later post.

I wanted to congratulate a few people who raced last weekend. Nancy Dickinson is a client that I coach. She is a trainer at LVAC and we trade my coaching services for her stretching services. She is an expert in flexibility and does a great job stretching people. I coach her and she stretches me an hour each week. If anyone needs someone to stretch them contact her! Anyway she competed in the Honu Half Ironman in Kona Hawaii. She finished in 5:23 and was 10th in her age group. That is a very difficult race because of the heat and she did excellent. I raced this course years ago and it is such a great race I would highly recommend it. Ashley, Brian, and Sheletha raced in the San Diego Half and Full Marathon last weekend. Great job to all of them for finishing!

I wanted to tell everyone I am starting to sell cycle shoes. These are the Gaerne Italian Brand of shoes. I decided to do this mainly because so many people in spin class ask me where to get shoes. I now can get them for anyone and give you a great product at a good price. The model I can get is the Electra in black and white and the Diva. Contact me at if you are interested in getting a pair. I also got more of my great stick figure shirts. They no longer say Train With Cyndee Train Without Cyndee they just have the figures on them and my logo. I now also have long sleeve. Lastly I am getting Headsweat Visors and will have them soon!

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