Ahead of the World 70.3 Championships on 2nd September in South Africa, we caught up with Alistair Brownlee to see how he tackles nutrition for a Half Ironman and why it is so important.

The Background

Better known as a double Olympic gold winner at standard distance triathlon, Alistair’s success has made him hungry for new challenges in the world of triathlon. With a full Ironman not an ‘if’ but more of a ‘when’, last year Alistair turned his hand at long distance triathlon. And in true Alistair style he made his mark from the first race. In May 2017, Alistair stormed onto 70.3 scene with what was described as ‘one of the most impressive debuts of all time’. Not only did he win in Utah, but also took home the course record.

In 2018, his long distance campaign got off to a great start. In February he returned to competition after 6 months of injury by taking the win at Dubai 70.3 in a time of 3:35:30. He then backed this up in Liuzhou, China with another win over the Half Ironman distance.

Injury unfortunately ruled Alistair out of his home race at Leeds WTS back in June. With no racing since then, he returned for the European Championships in Glasgow at the beginning of August. He spent most of the race with the leaders until getting tailed off in the run to come home 4th; a very respectable results for his first race back.

Now his sights are firmly set on South Africa and we’re excited to see how Alistair fairs at the World Championships in a distance that is still relatively new, despite his stand out results.

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How do you plan to fuel the 70.3 World Championships?

On the bike I will get most of my calories through energy gels and put 8 standard (probably lemon and lime) in my aero drinks bottle and mix with a bit of water. I don’t have to get through it but will aim to have most of it with a sip every 15 minutes or so.

I’ll have some cut up Duo Bars in the container on the top tube and some extra energy gels for an emergency. I can only eat the solid fuel if there a decent downhill on the course so I can chew.

I will have OTE Energy Drink in the front mounted bottle and one behind my saddle. If it’s not too warm I would pick up a bottle of water from the aid stations to fill the front reservoir which would give me 2l in total (you always lose quite a bit!) If it is warm I would have to pick up more water.

Going onto the run I will have a rocket fuel caffeine gel and probably put another in my pocket for later on. I will probably also pick a few gels up from aid stations to try have one every 15-20 minutes along with some water.

Why is planning and practising a fuelling strategy so important for longer triathlon events?

In a race that is nearly four hours long and all at a significant intensity, fuelling is crucial. Getting the right amount of carbohydrates, fluid and electrolytes is one thing but doing it without causing race ruining GI distress is another. So it’s important to practise, train and get used to the fuel you are going to use in competition.

OTE Sports products are designed to be pH neutral (meaning kind on the stomach) which is a big bonus over longer distances.

What have you learnt about the importance of getting nutrition right from past races you have done over the years?

In Olympic distance racing it’s more about fluid replacement and getting that wrong can be life threatening.  (OTE: Due to the shorter race duration of the elite race means the athletes should have enough carbohydrate stores for the race; it may only be 1-2 energy gel required during. However sweat rates are often very high, which can be just as detrimental on performance as lack of carbohydrates)

For the longer distances you won’t finish without getting carbohydrates in so it’s crucial for performance. I’ve learnt that I can’t eat too much as long as my stomach can cope with it. (OTE: Any exercise of a moderate to hard intensity that is over 90 minutes requires a consistent in take of carbohydrates to allow the athlete to stay on top of the intensity for the full duration.)

What are your typical pre race and post race meals?

Before a race I stick to simple foods the night and day before the race. Nothing specific, but simple carbohydrate sources such as potatoes, pasta and bread, with meat or fish and vegetables.
Straight after a race I will have an OTE Recovery Shake as soon as I feel up to it after the race and try get a massage. The OTE Dark Chocolate Mint Protein Bars are pretty good too! I don’t really believe in earning treats and believe everything is okay in moderation. But I’ll probably have a burger and a few glasses of wine after a race.

What are your 3 nutrition tips for anyone tackling a 70.3?

  1. It’s hard to eat too much!
  2. Practise with your nutrition before the race. It’s training your gut to cope with it.
  3. Make sure you are well hydrated before you start by drinking plenty of water containing OTE Hydro Tabs.

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