Race nutrition is a mystery.

I’m at a point now, at least with running, where I’m starting to see the old times coming back.  But, more importantly, I FEEL better about running than I have in almost a year.  I feel like I am running faster, but easier than I have in a long time.  For instance, today’s run, which included two hills of 1/4 to 1/2 mile each was completed at 51:03 for 6.1mi or 8:23/mi.  It wasn’t 3 weeks ago I was struggling to maintain a 9 minute pace.  Other than the hill miles (8:44, 8:53) I actually averaged 8:12 this morning.  And I think I could have gone faster.  I was talking through most of the first 3 miles.  My legs felt fresh and my turnover was high.  All good signs, especially after a heavy weekend of workouts.

My weekly run training has kind of fallen into a 4 day per week routine.  Tuesday is hills, Thursday is intervals, Saturday is long and Sunday is trails.  This really seems to work for me.  Especially the way I have my swims set up.  I swim Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and this low impact workout on the days following my runs makes my body really happy!

The problem is, as always, where do the bike miles fit in?  Getting in bike miles really forces me to do multiple workouts per day.  I just don’t have a choice.  So far it has been a day or two a week on the trainer, or a day or two a week on the MTB with an occasional road ride if possible.  However, as the season wears on I will need to really increase this if I have any hope at all of getting enough miles in to do a half ironman someplace.  More than likely I will have to change my Saturday/Sunday runs to bricks and then add Thursday evening intervals to the mix.  I will also need at least one day a week on the trainer or an exercise bike at the gym.

My goal for all of this is to really try to NOT be undertrained on the bike this year.  I don’t feel that in the 3 years I have been doing triathlons I have gotten the right amount of bike miles yet.  Experienced triathletes will say you can NEVER get enough bike miles in and I believe that, to a degree.  Especially if you do longer races.  I may yet have to switch to a REAL half Ironman training plan from someplace in order to keep it all straight.

I was talking with a friend this morning on the run and asked me what I was afraid of about doing a half iron.  I told him it was mostly the bad experiences I have had doing long bike rides and then trying to run.  I have done it a dozen times or more and have cramped HORRIBLY every time.  Yes, that’s nutrition/hydration, but when the bomb goes off it doesn’t really matter why.  It still affects you and makes you worry about it.  I’m “hoping” that if I can really lose weight for the rest of the spring and stretch my mileages slowly, I can overcome the block and find the right nutrition for me.  It’s definitely something I need to research.

I think I know what I need, I just don’t know the best delivery system for it.  I sweat more than most people.  So I’m not only losing fluids, I’m losing salt as well.  I have to start factoring that into my nutrition.  Most gels don’t have enough sodium for me.  Believe it or not, the cheapy Power Gels are the highest sodium of the bunch (that I am aware of).  I just don’t know about the liquids.  There are so many choices it’s kind of overwhelming.  I can’t drink a lot of anything sweet or I get sick so Gatorade and the like are out.  I have tried the Hammer products and a few others but still don’t feel like it’s enough.  I either overdrink and have to pee during the race and STILL dehydrate (weird…  I know), or don’t drink enough and blow up.  This is one of my biggest challenges.  It will take some time to figure out.


4 Responses to Race nutrition is a mystery.

  1. Matt says:

    I know you mentioned you’ve tried Hammer products, did that include Hammer Perpetuem? I found out that works for me, however the taste isn’t the greatest. I picked up some Gu Roctane Ultra endurance, however have yet to try it.

  2. dabigleap says:

    Perpetuem seems to work the best of the bunch. My problem is sodium. I sweat more than an entire football team and trying to keep up with the salt loss is my greatest challenge. I use the Hammer salt tablets and they help (IF is stay on top of it) but the only gels I can find with adequate salt are plain old Power Gels (about twice the sodium of any other). I’ve tried making my own redneck Gatorade with mixed results. To get enough sodium in the mix, it ends up tasting like sweet sea water. If I sweeten it to dampen the salt taste… well, you can see where that goes. My body hit the reject button at about 15 miles drinking it and I gave up after that… 😉 Thanks for commenting!

  3. Matt says:

    Hmm…weird. I’m not totally convinced that you need that much sodium since our body can only process so much. Have you tried Gu’s Blueberry Pomegranate brew? Apparently it has more sodium. You may want to also give the guys at http://www.infinitnutrition.us/ a shot. It might be a better option in terms of customization.

  4. dabigleap says:

    I’m not totally convinced I know what the hell I’m doing anyway 🙂 All I know is I sweat profusely and have a tough time keeping on top of hydration. If I take more electrolytes, I cramp less. But if I’m ever going to get to half iron distances, I need to do more. I will check out the link.
    Just followed your blog! Love cooking too and I’m always looking for recipes.
    I follow another triathlete blogger from Hawaii at:


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