My 3 Biggest Nutrition Mistakes In Triathlon
Learn from my pain
Mistake #1: Not eating carbs on race morning
I didn’t eat any carbs before my first Ironman. It hurts to type that!!
Fasting and Low Carb had helped me overcome a lifetime of gluttonous eating habits and I wasn’t willing to give them up (yet).
My pre-race fuel before Ironman Indiana was a “fatty coffee”: black coffee, collagen peptides, MCT oil
There were calories, but no carbs.
The strategy worked well for me in the 70.3 distance, but Ironman was a whole new beast.
I cramped 3 times in the 2nd lap of the swim and was playing catch up as soon as I started fueling with carbs on the bike.
Learning can be painful.
Mistake #2: Not drinking enough water during the race
It was the Patriot Half in June 2021 and I was having the race of my life.
It was my first 70.3 since doing 2 Ironmans and my perception of the distance had radically shifted.
70.3?? You mean less time than an Ironman training day??
I went full send.
I felt invincible, my data was incredible and I stayed on the gas.
Swim: 1st sub-30 min in a 70.3
Bike: 231W NP and 22.4 mph avg. (both PRs)
Run: 7:23 min/mile for the first 9 miles (pacing for a PR)
I was eyeing up a sub-4:40 finish!!
Then my stomach seized at the 9 mile mark of the run and I came to a screeching halt.
I didn’t do a good job getting water at Aid Stations on the back half of the bike, or any of the run.
Big Logistical Learning: It was a locally run race and the Aid Stations were a single folding table, a big difference from Ironman’s set up.
I was focused on speed and by the time I realized I was at an Aid Station, I was nearly past it.
I hobbled home for the final 4 miles at a 12:01 min/mile pace, with 4 trips into the woods.
Lesson Learned: carbs/calories get most fueling attention, but the body will shut down without water.
Mistake #3: Eating too much fat
This is in daily eating, not in a race.
I was eating Low Carb/High Fat in the early part of my triathlon career.
It served me well in daily life and, since the training was so new to me, I didn’t see any obvious downsides (until my 1st Ironman).
After Ironman Indiana, I accepted that I needed more carbs.
I increased my carb intake in training and daily diet, but I didn’t drop fat intake enough to compensate.
I was eating in an unproductive surplus, gradually gained ~10lbs and struggled with body composition.
I initially chalked those up to increased water retention with the increased carbs, but counting my counting my macros made this immediately obvious.
I was eating 80-120g fat/day and have since dialed that back to ~50g.
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