Today, we will chat about Ironman Triathlon Race Day Nutrition!  We will chat about the 5 W’s, and will post 2 – 5 tips regarding nutrition within the triathlon. Our final chat is about the Ironman Triathlon Nutrition, and this is a beast on its own. I truly feel that I have learned a TON about this, BUT I need to be upfront about it: DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!!! Here you go, with my two cents about Ironman Triathlon Training Nutrition:

Details of an Ironman Triathlon 

Who Does an Ironman Triathlon? I would like to see AT LEAST two 70.3 Ironman Triathlons under your belt. Seriously! Make sure you have done a triathlon before you sign up for an Ironman. It is a HUGE commitment and if you signed up for an $800+ race and realize you HATE cycling, you may want to rethink your goals.

What is the distance of an Ironman Triathlon? 2.4 Mile Swim/112 mile Bike/26.2 mile Run

When are the Ironman Triathlons?  Year Round!

Where are the Ironman Triathlons? All Over! Check out the Ironman Triathlon website, along with my Ironman Triathlon Travels on Pinterest.

Why do an Ironman Triathlon? Figure out your WHY behind doing this race. Why? Because it is a HUGE time commitment. Click on my link about your WHY of doing an Ironman Triathlon. It may help you a ton as you get into your training! Here is another blog that I mentioned: “Five Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Sign Up for an Ironman Triathlon.”

Four Tips on Nutrition for your Ironman Triathlon:

1. What do you consume during the race? Everyone is DIFFERENT!!  The body will start needing calories after 75 – 90 minutes of exercise, so you will have to consume calories since you will be racing at least 9+ hours (unless you are a Pro). We talked briefly about the two different ways to take in nutrition in the 70.3 IM racing. It is very similar to the 70.3 Ironman Triathlon Racing, but we are now getting ready for an Ironman Triathlon.

  • CHO (Carbohydrate) based: The race will on average clock 9 – 16+ hours, so you will need some type of CHO. The body can only store enough CHO in the form of glycogen to last 60 – 90 minutes. I have seen athletes consume: PB&J, Beef Jerky, Liquid Calories (See Below), PayDay, Fritos, Bananas, or Breakfast tacos with eggs and bacon. HA! BUT you truly need to figure out what works for you!  I personally train with EFS Pro from First Endurance. I have trained with other liquid calorie types of CHO, as there are many out there (Infinite, Hammer Nutrition, Carbo Pro, etc.).
  • Utilizing your Fat Storage: This is a COMPLETELY different blog. I talked briefly about it when I was using Generation UCAN.  I have used UCAN for 70.3 Ironman Triathlon, but I truly felt that I needed more during my Ironman last year in Mont Tremblant.
  • Here are two blogs in which I chatted about Ironman Triathlon Nutrition:

2. When do you take your nutrition for an Ironman Triathlon? Let’s break this down as we head into the workout.

  • Pre-Swim: You may want to consume something about 30 – 45 minutes before the swim. You can do a gel, a banana, etc. Whatever your body can handle before a race. I would NOT do something “new” on race day.
  • During the Bike: Consuming calories on the bike will be the key for you. I suggest to athletes that whatever you do for your bike nutrition, you MAY want to “change” it for the run nutrition, as you may get “sick” of your nutrition.  I will have my watch go off every 15 minutes on the bike. I will either take in my nutrition, water, or my supplements. I will focus on taking in at least 200 calories/hour. This is 5 scoops of EFS Pro, and is based on my weight, what I have tried in training, and what works for me. You need to do the same. I have seen athletes consume too many calories, and they have to get rid of them somehow; or not taking in enough, and then they are walking on the run. There is a delicate balance! PRACTICE! (As you noticed, same as 70.3 IM, but this will be a little bit longer day!)
  • During the Run: You can always attempt to try what you would do on the course BUT try it in practice, and not race day. I will go with First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot. I will take a shot of it every 3 miles, but remember, it will take about 15 minutes for the nutrition to digest, so you may want to take it in earlier rather than later. The EFS Liquid Shot has 400 calories. I truly feel that I don’t consume as much on the run as I take in plenty during the bike BUT once again, you may be totally different. I have had athletes who can consume gels and GU like clock work every 45 minutes. (As you noticed, same as 70.3 IM, but this will be a little bit longer day!)

3. Water and Ironman Triathlon. Yes, you need to drink your water BUT you need to drink water based on when you are thirsty. Some athletes will start drinking water WAY ahead of needing it, and this may actually hinder your race. Remember, a lot of it depends on the time that you are out there, the weather, etc. But the BIG reminder: Drink water when you are thirsty. (Check out Timothy Noakes’ interview HERE. Timothy Noakes has written a lot about hyponatremia.)

4. YOU need to figure out what works for you! Remember, your favorite Pro Athlete and best friend will consume differently than you will. Please do not do 20 gels for an Ironman Triathlon on the run, just because the Pro did it.

I always go back to the basic: Figure out what works for you. Everyone is different!

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AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I’m Jen Rulon, A Triathlon Coach And A Public Speaker. I’ve been coaching USA Triathlon Level 1 for 16+ years and I’ve received my Masters in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. I train triathletes to reach their potential and coach triathlete coaches to successfully grow their businesses using my own proven methods. My knowledge has been featured in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Men’s Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach — I’m a 14x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 14, 2017.

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