Jen Rulon

Sidenote: As you may be preparing for your Ironman Triathlon this year, I wanted to share with you some nutrition tips. I can’t have you do a race with a buffet, as that can crush you out on the race course. Contact me for more information about my coaching and how I help you with your race-day nutrition. 

Today, we will chat about Ironman Triathlon Race Day Nutrition!  We will discuss the 5 W’s and post 2 – 5 tips for nutrition within the triathlon. Our final chat is about the Ironman Triathlon Nutrition, a beast on its own. I have learned a TON about this, BUT I need to be upfront about it: DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!!! So 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 realized 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 and 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 for doing an Ironman Triathlon. It may help you a ton as you get into your training! I mentioned another blog: “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 need calories after 75 – 90 minutes of exercise, so you will have to consume calories since you will be racing for g at least 9+ hours (unless you are a Pro). We briefly discussed the two ways to take nutrition in the 70.3 IM racing. It is 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 CHO. The body can only store enough CHO if glycogen lasts 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 genuinely need to figure out what works for you!  I train with EFS Pro from First Endurance. I am acquainted with other CHO liquid calorie types, 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 the 70.3 Ironman Triathlon, but I truly felt that I needed more during my Ironman last year in Mont Tremblant.

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 about 30 – 45 minutes before swimming. 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 bike nutrition, you MAY want to “change” it for 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/per hour. This is five 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 take 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 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 on 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 genuinely feel that I don’t consume as much on the run as I take in plenty during the bike, but you may be different once again. I have had athletes who can consume gels and GU-like clockwork every 45 minutes. (As you noticed, same as 70.3 IM, but this will be a little longer day!)



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, which may hinder your race. Remember, it depends on the time 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.)

YOU need to figure out what works for you! Remember, your favorite Pro Athlete and best friend will consume differently than you. 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 basics: Figure out what works for you. Everyone is different!

Interested in my “Fundamentals of Triathlon” PDF? Grab it today! 

AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I have been coaching triathletes, runners, and cyclists for over 21+ years; I received my Master's Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. And as you may have learned, there is more to life than swimming, biking, and running. It is a lifestyle, and I am here to help you cross that finish line with a smile, whether it is an Ironman Triathlon or the Ironman of Life. You can find my knowledge shared in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Southwest Research Institute Human Performance Summit, Training Peaks Workshops, "Self Motivation Strategies for Women" on Amazon, Men's Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach—she's a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, on October 14, 2017.

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