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Half Distance Triathlon Nutrition Plan

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Half Distance Triathlon Nutrition Plan

Half Distance Triathlon Nutrition Guide

Have a big race coming up? 

Our good friends at CORE Nutrition Planning (www.fuelthecore.com) recently shared the following nutrition guidelines for athletes doing a half distance triathlon.  We thought it made so much sense that we wanted to pass along the wisdom.

You can also build your own FREE personalized nutrition plan at CORE: Sign Up

HALF DISTANCE NUTRITION GUIDE

For a half distance triathlon or other 4 to 7 hour event, nutrition can be an incredibly important factor. In shorter distance triathlons you can get away with making some nutrition mistakes, but during a half distance triathlon, it is more likely that you will be punished for nutrition errors. In fact, when you talk to athletes who did not have a good race, they will often mention nutrition as the main reason why things did not go as planned.

On this page the basics of nutrition are discussed: a few general rules of nutrition and some of the most common mistakes.

THREE MAIN NUTRITION ISSUE

The three most important nutritional issues during a half distance triathlon are:

1.    Meeting the man with the hammer: Running out of fuel, hitting the wall, bonking, or just not being able to keep up the intensity during the last part of the race.

2.    Dehydration: Becoming progressively dehydrated to an extent where this will limit performance.

3.    Stomach problems: Gastrointestinal problems such as stomach cramps, bloating, etc. that can have a negative impact on your performance. 

FUELING

The main fuel for an event like this is carbohydrate, especially if you are completing the race closer to the 4 hour mark than the 7 hour mark. Your body stores contain roughly 500 grams of carbohydrate (this is 2000 kcal), not enough to make it to the finish line. In theory it should be enough to get most athletes through the first 3 hours of a race but topping up from the start is essential. Because it takes time for carbohydrate to be absorbed, you need to start early with fueling to make sure you avoid carbohydrate depletion. Once you run out of carbohydrate stores it is difficult to recover.

As a general rule, aim for 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. This carbohydrate can be in the form of a bar, a gel, chews, or a drink. If you use solid foods, make sure fat, protein and fiber content are low (no more than a few grams). What you use is entirely up to you and your personal preferences. Faster athletes tend to use more liquids and less solids because it can be difficult to chew at high intensities. It has also been shown that factors like fiber intake, fat intake and the use of very concentrated carbohydrate drinks are causes of gastrointestinal discomfort. So combining these three main issues, you need to plan ahead and have a rough idea where you are going to get your carbohydrate from (drinks, gels, bars), how much fluid you need to take in and where you are going to get this from (carry, special needs for feed stations) and make sure you reach approximately 60 g/hr of carbohydrate intake and enough fluid to not lose a lot of weight. You can get a good idea by weighing yourself before and after training. Think about this in advance and write down your plan.

COMMON MISTAKES ON RACE DAY

The most common mistakes are:

1.    Sticking to a plan at all costs:  If for some unforeseen reason you cannot follow the plan (you lost a bottle, or you are developing gastrointestinal problems), do not continue with the plan at all costs. Be flexible and adapt. A slightly lower intake is not going to be a problem, forcing more nutrition in will.

2.    Trying something new on race day:  Sometimes you’ll see athletes walk around expos, buying new products for the race the next day. Only use products that you have tried and tested, products you know you tolerate well.

3.    Thinking that more is better:  Drinking more and eating more is not always better. Sure, you have to take in enough energy and enough fluids, but once you achieve the basic needs, more is not necessarily better and in some cases detrimental.

A COUPLE OF EXTRA POINTS:

1.    Sodium losses in a race like this are unlikely to affect performance in the vast majority of athletes, so sodium supplementation should not be a priority. Too much might cause gastrointestinal problems.

2.    Caffeine (low dose: 3mg/kg one hour before: equivalent of a big cup of coffee or 2 espressos before the start) may help some athletes. Some athletes like it, some don’t. Experiment in training and find out what works for you.

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About Core Nutrition Planning: Founded by Sports Nutrition Scientist and Ironman athlete Asker Jeukendrup and Cyclist and Triathlete Bill Braun, CORE uses evidence-based guidelines from the latest sports nutrition research along with input from the athlete, with input about them, their event, and their preferred fuels to build personalized nutrition plans that help the athlete maximize performance.  Learn more at www.fuelthecore.com.

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Kinesiology Tape

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Kinesiology Tape

Have you been hearing about the tape fad? Kinesiology tape can be hugely beneficial for the endurance athlete, but it's definitely a science to be mastered. Here we explore the various benefits of adding this technique to your routine. 

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Transitioning to Triathlons

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Transitioning to Triathlons

Sick of just one sport? Ready to move on to the next level? Triathlons may be in your near future, but it's important to transition at your own pace. Read more to learn about transitioning to triathlons. 

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Jenn Garnand is Kona-Bound

Boom! Ambassador Jenn Garnand of New Orleans was one of six people who completed Ironman Lake Tahoe 2014, even though it was officially cancelled due to heavy smoke from nearby forest fires. She was the only known female finisher of the "Unofficial 6" who finished Ironman Lake Tahoe that day. And now, she's headed to Kona! Here's her remarkable story of strong will and determination.

Fake Tahoe: The Land of Fire and Ice and Bike-Swim-Bike-Run

Lake Tahoe is notorious for being one of the most challenging Ironman courses in North America and beyond… 1) for the fact that it’s extremely unpredictable as far as weather and conditions are concerned and 2) because it’s situated at 6-7,000 feet of elevation with over 6700 feet of elevation gain throughout the bike course. Needless to say, as a girl from New Orleans, I’ve been terrified for the greater part of the last year!

When I arrived in Tahoe, I vividly remember walking over to pick up my bike box at the airport and by the time I had pulled it to the front door, I was out of breath. Great! I figured I was in for a real treat once I had to do actual physical activity. I spent the first day acclimating to my new environment and doing absolutely nothing. It was concerning from day one, when I learned of 2 nearby forest fires, one only about 10 miles away, that were producing smoke that would fill Lake Tahoe and the entire surrounding valley for the coming week.  Each day, I tolerated the smoke as it came and was smart about when to call it quits. After all, I was saving myself for race day.

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The morning of the race, I woke up to smoke filling the inside of our hotel room and knew that things weren’t looking good. We proceeded to get everything together as normal and took the long shuttle bus ride to race start. When we got there, music was blaring, volunteers were everywhere and it looked like your typical Ironman event: ready to rock and roll! The air surrounding the lake was clear and the water was still, much different than any of the days I had practiced in this “lake” with its 5-foot waves and surfers riding them. Everything was looking great to start the race. We were lined up on King’s Beach, toes in the water, waiting to begin our individual journeys.

The race was literally cancelled about 5 minutes prior to the start, out of safety concerns for athletes, volunteers and the general public. I understand and respect Ironman’s decision to cancel that day, however devastating it may have been to the 1900+ athletes that had traveled from all over the world to be there and made unbelievable personal sacrifices in order to get to that starting line. I’ve never seen so many grown men crying in one place before. It was terrible! I too, sniffled for all of about 5 seconds. Just then, I got that feeling when you just “know” and told myself, “I’m doing it.” Now don’t go thinking I was trying to go against WTC rulings or trying to prove a point to anybody. I wasn’t. I had been dealing with this smoke for the past week and had been smart about not training in it when it got bad. I was saving myself for this one day and I hadn’t come all the way to Lake Tahoe to vacation. I wasn’t going home without a fight. In true ER nurse fashion, I strapped my N-95 mask on and began my journey.

Because of the layout of Lake Tahoe and the mountains, I had a few logistical issues with the flow of my race. I swam in the middle of my bike ride, which is a bit of a change from the usual race day flow. But all in all, the day was extremely pleasant. No pressure, just me and the road and this mission I had set out to accomplish. It’s funny, everyone is so shocked that someone would go out and do this with no crowds and no support. But guess what? That’s what we do every day in training! I don’t always need a man on a microphone (I love you, Mike Reilly!!!) to tell me I’m an Ironman (although I would later get that anyway). Training for these things is the real journey… the every day, silent, long hours that go into even getting to that starting line. So this part was no big deal. I was merely earning the medal that they had already handed out to me (yes, this was the only race I have ever done where I got the medal first and then finished!)

Despite wearing an N-95 mask under my helmet for over 6 hours, the bike ride was really nice. Elevation was not an issue for me, and the hills, well, I had prepared myself way better than I thought! I only stopped breathing (ok, I’m being dramatic) twice on 2 of the bigger climbs and the scenery is SO AMAZING that you almost forget you’re doing work. The smoke got progressively better throughout the course of the day and by the time I was on the run, I didn’t need the mask at all.

The marathon was a special experience. By this time, I was aware that there were a few others out on the course and we had already formed a special bond through waves and cheers. Their people became my people and I found myself with random strangers checking on me well into the night. One thing I learned about running a marathon on a mountain is that it is PITCH BLACK. Talk about not being able to see your hand in front of your face! I even had a light on my race belt, but it was still incredibly difficult to navigate the run path in this environment. Towards the second half of the run, I found myself doing loops around our hotel (yay) so that I could see where I was going. This is about the equivalent of running on a treadmill for me, so that part was not very exciting, but I had to get the miles in. About 5 miles from the finish, I decided to detour up the mountain a bit to where the finish line would have been. To my surprise, I was greeted by bright lights, music and about 20 screaming people. I jokingly said, “Wait, I’m not done!” Matt Miller, initially known to be “a guy named Matt, now recognized as President of Base Performance and one of the best Ironman cheerleaders I know), was there leading the group. He started running with me and asked how many miles I had left. I told him 5, and he said, “Great, we’ll be here waiting for you.” I told him they did NOT have to do that and asked about what family members or friends they had come here to support. He responded, “You. We’ve been watching you all day. We came back here for YOU!” WHAT?!?!?! I couldn’t believe these strangers were getting crazy at almost midnight on a dark abandoned mountain for ME…So I continued to run for almost the next hour with a renewed sense of excitement for my once “virtual”, now very much real Ironman Lake Tahoe finish line.

When I did come in for the finish, I had my very own announcer complete with microphone and loudspeaker, refreshments, an unofficial bedazzled heart necklace and a 1999 Ironman New Zealand bag that one of my new friends had scratched out and scribbled “Ironman Lake Tahoe 2014” in its place. These people were hugging and kissing me like I had known them my entire life. They took pictures and videos and did everything in their power to make the culmination of that initially very disappointing day an incredibly amazing finish! I formed a special bond with them in that moment that has now grown beyond Lake Tahoe. I went on to compete in Ironman Florida with one of my finish line friends, Ryan Moll (it was a special day and #5 for us both). He not only cheered me on in Tahoe, but completed his own distance of 76.3 miles that day (because 70.3 was just too normal). These are my kind of people; these are friendships that will forever remind me that our triathlon community is truly amazing.

As if it couldn’t get any better, two months following the event, on November 14th, my wildest dream came true. Ironman announced a handful of members of the Ironman Lake Tahoe community who had shown up, checked in and signed up for another race in 2015, that would receive the “golden ticket” to race in the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii... and MY name was on that list! I knew that day in Lake Tahoe was special for many personal reasons, but as it turns out, the decision I made to follow my dreams resulted in the ultimate reward. This was Ironman #4 for me, but definitely the most important and special one of the 4. I did it for ME. I did it because it’s in my blood and it’s what I had come to do. I’m proud to be the only known female member of the “Unofficial 6” that finished Ironman Lake Tahoe that day. I learned that if you really want to achieve something, be smart, be safe and go out and get it! I’m glad I did.

Never give up,

Jenn Garnand

Boom! Nutrition Ambassador

www.conqueringkona.com

@conqueringkona on Instagram

@conqueringkona on Twitter

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Jason McFaul Kona Training Camp

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It was time to run 13.4 miles, which included the Natural Energy Lab. The Natural Energy Lab is . . . HOT. 

One thing I learned from Keish is there's no dilly-dallying.  He parked his car on Palani, and before I'd activated my Garmin, he was already running up Palani toward the Queen K.  Perhaps it was the days of compounded training, or just the fairly oppressive heat, but I wasn't in the mood to run. 

Herein lies one of the benefits of a training partner. Keish was already halfway up the hill. I needed to catch him. 

The Queen K is essentially a highway bordered by black lava rocks. It is desolate. It is solitary. And if you dare look at the faces of the motorists driving past you, they have a look like "Why would anybody run right now?  It's hot. It's humid. It's windy". 

And therein lies the answer. August is the hottest, windiest month of the year. We are preparing for the Ironman World Championship. There is no better place, and no better time, than right here . . . and right now. 

It's about 5 miles from Palani -- along the Queen K -- to the Natural Energy Lab. These 5 miles are lonely, with long climbs and slow descents. It doesn't help to look forward, as progress doesn't reveal itself. And while there is a tailwind, the lava rocks refuse to lean forward like flowers and trees. So you feel something on your back -- it could be a push forward, or it could be a warning. 

I turn on my music. Try to find a rhythm. Work on the things I can control:  my breathing, my stride, foot strike, and cadence. 

I began with a full water bottle. I have half a bottle left with 3 miles to the Natural Energy Lab. 


I know there is a water fountain at the Visitors Center. I dig deep, but I also do so sparingly, as the Natural Energy Lab has a reputation for compelling people to dig deeper. 

My pace is reasonable. 7-7:30/mile as I make a left turn into the Natural Energy Lab. This place is legendary for zapping what strength remains from even the toughest competitors. A few years ago on the NBC Broadcast of the Hawaii Ironman, Andreas Raelert was featured in this section, described as "a hydration science project". Sweat didn't drop from his face. It flowed. Like a waterfall. 

I fill my bottle at the Visitors Center, knowing that I need to run approximately 1.5 miles (1 mile down to the ocean with a headwind, and then .5 mile along the beach until I reach the turnaround).  

 

I run on the edge of the asphalt, which is reputedly releasing heat in excess of 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Cars drive toward me, moving to their left in order to afford me extra space. A few give me the Shaka (hang-loose sign). I interpret this to mean I've been accepted as a temporary resident on the Big Island. Or that my shoulders are tense and I need to loosen up a bit. 

I get to the turnaround and prepare to do some real work. I squeeze an Apple Cinnamon carb-BOOM! into my mouth, chase it with a hearty blast of lukewarm water, and run toward the hottest one mile of the course. There is a crosswind coming from the ocean, but once I make the left turn into the heart of the Natural Energy Lab, it's one hot uphill mile. 

I look to the solar panels atop the Visitors Center. They do not appear to get any closer. So I count steps, try to find a rhythm, and compel myself forward with the promise of water when I complete this climb. 

The water finally comes, and after I fill my bottle, I turn right onto the Queen K for 5 miles. There is a fierce headwind, but it feels so good. My shirt is soaked. My shorts are soaked. The hot wind cools my body. 

The closer I get to Palani, the more emotional I become. I see Mark Allen and Dave Scott gutting it out during the 1989 Iron War. I see Rick and Dick Hoyt. I see Paula, Chrissie, Rinny. I see suffering and triumph.  

I'm almost to Palani when Keish pulls his car onto the shoulder. I know this is the right way to end today's run. I haven't earned the right to make that turn into town, where dreams are finally realized along Ali'i Drive.  

I'm hoping, though, that on October 11, I will make that turn.  And experience what many consider the greatest quarter mile in triathlon. 

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