MMRF Endurance Events

Triathlon Training Tips - Week 5

Week #5 – Fueling During Workouts

Many triathletes might not realize that an electrolyte beverage like Gatorade is not only great for fluid and sodium replacement, but also contains carbohydrates for energy. Thus, by consuming a drink like this, you are simultaneously taking care of three crucial aspects of running success.

It is easier for your body to process fluids than solid foods, especially when you are running. You therefore want to try to take in energy in fluid form first, semi-solid second (think energy gels) and solid form last.

You need to practice fueling during your bike and run workouts. This is critical. Everyone is different, and you want to know what works for you on race day. The goal, as always, is to prepare your body for what your strategy will be during your race. What many newer triathletes don't realize is that the conditions of the race, including increased adrenaline and a faster sustained pace, can drastically affect the way in which your body reacts to taking in fuel. Thus, the more you can train your body to adapt to the exact feeding schedule you use, the better.

Realize that the "Bike Sets Up The Run." This means that you want to take in the majority of your fluids and fuel while cycling. Once you start running, the body is less "happy" about taking in fuel, especially solids and semi-solids. Be sure to take in adequate calories on the bike so you will start the run properly fueled, not under-fueled.

The rule of thumb is to try to consume 200-500 calories per hour while on the bike. Experiment during your “brick” workouts* and determine whether you are on the low end or high end of this range. Bigger, heavier people tend to need more calories. If you are light-headed or dragging during the run portion of your brick workouts, consider taking in more calories on the bike. And be sure to take in fluids while running as well.

*”Brick” workouts are the workouts that include time on your bike, followed by a run, immediately after. See my book for more details on this important subject.