important and yet overlooked aspect in amateur triathlon. Professional
triathletes are hypersensitive to the need for nutrition both during
training and during the race.
Amateur triathletes however, tend to get
lax in their nutrition or don’t plan their nutrition well enough and
thus suffer the consequences of poor performance. To truly gain success
in triathlon, you must focus in on your nutrition to get the best
The first aspect of nutrition is
periodization. It is very difficult to be in a strict diet in training
year round. Personally, I have to have times where I “loosen the belt”
and enjoy a good cheeseburger. So, understand that just as there is
periodization in your training, there is periodization in your
For example, when you are narrowing in on race day you may
become very strict in your diet about 8-12 weeks before race day. This
gives you ample time to lose any extra weight you are carrying and to
maximize your training days with quality foods.
After the race, you may
take a reward week to eat some extra food or enjoy a meal that just is
not in your strict training diet. You shouldn’t feel bad about this
cheat period and go enjoy a great desert.
Once this cheat week or cheat
day is over jump right back into your more strict diet to prepare for
your next race. In the offseason, it is important to enjoy some not so
strict foods, but be careful you can put on too much weight in the
Each athlete is vastly
different in terms of what they eat during training. Some of the base
components of a good diet are quality carbohydrates (No McDonald’s),
quality proteins such as fish, chicken, and lean meats, fruits (often
overlooked) and vegetables.
Some triathletes become so neurotic about
these different aspects that they measure everything. As someone who is
very busy this is difficult to do, however, once you find a pattern of
good eating you will be able to implement a good diet for training.
not go on a “diet” in that you minimize your calories so far that your
training sessions end in weakness or “bonking.” Eat 6-7 times a day with
quality snacks such as fruit, low-fat cheese sticks, or protein bars.
Make sure to drink ample amounts of water as your training will require
extra amounts of water to avoid dehydration. Finally, pick one
nutritional pattern and stick with it instead of trying so many
For each triathlon race that
you compete in, you will have certain nutritional issues that you will
need to deal with. For Sprint and Olympic/International distance races,
you will probably just need a pre-race meal. For long course races such
as a half ironman or full ironman distance, you will not only need a
pre-race meal but also need a nutrition plan for during the race.
Currently, I take in 2 250 calorie Juices at around 2:30-3:00 am the day
of the race. I eat a whole cinnamon and raisin bagel an hour before the
race. I then use PowerBar Powergel Tangerine flavor gels before the
race and during the race.
I typically use a gel every:45 minutes on the
bike and every:30 minutes on the run. I also use Hammer Nutrition
Endurolytes before the race and at each of the intervals stated above
for the gels. I also use Hammer Nutrition’s FIZZ in my water bottles for
The process of me finding this mix of nutrition has take the
last 6 years. Sometimes you discover things by trial and error such as
my need for Accelerade during the race this last year.
is so important for overall performance. There is not a one-size-fits
all approach. Find some best practices and begin the trial process for
your own needs.
N Is for Nutrition in Triathlon Training