After finishing my 3rd Ironman 70.3 race this year I feel that I have got my race day and pre race nutrition pretty much sorted now. A familiar go to routine that I know works and makes me feel good all the way to the end (or at least as good as the second half of the run will ever feel). I am a firm believer in keeping things simple, race day is stressful enough so anything you can do to help reduce that is going to help. Below I have written my routine and some simple advice for anyone planning a 70.3 or half Iron Distance race.
I always try and get out for a short ride and run before breakfast the day before the race then I prioritise a good breakfast! For me this normally means a big bowl or oats with some fruit/nuts and honey and something like a couple of eggs as well. Not always easy when travelling to race but I travel with a Tupperware box and some oats just to be safe then pick up other bits as I can in supermarkets etc.
Lunch and dinner for me is about keeping it simple, a jacket potato or some chicken and rice. Nothing fancy or too exciting but things I know my body handles well and have little chance of giving me any kindness of digestion issues. Not going nuts on a huge “carb load” but keeping it sensible and familiar. With these races starting so early I always try and have my bigger meal at lunchtime and a lighter early dinner so there’s some hope of getting a pre race breakfast in.
Breakfast on race day is standard for me now. Oats with banana, honey and normally some almond butter or something. I then have a drink of normally 1 serving of OTE Vanilla energy with a Hydro Tab or 2 in a litre of water so a slightly weaker mix that I sip on as and when I want leading up to the race start. (I normally make this in a disposable bottle so I can just bin it at or near the swim start.
For the swim then it’s just a case of crack on! No nutrition needed and I will start to refuel when I get onto my bike and get going. On my bike I have 2 bottles, an aerobottle on the down tube that has my “fuel” in it and a round bottle behind the saddle that has my fluid. In the downtube bottle for a 70.3 I put in 6 OTE energy gels and 2 Hydro Tabs and top it up with water to make a gel solution. I then set the time alert on my Garmin to every 20 minutes and sip from this bottle to that schedule. In the bottle out back I start with a serving of OTE energy drink which I drink to according to thirst and then swap this out for on course nutrition as required either water or energy drink again. In my pocket I carry a Blackcurrant rocket fuel gel with 100mg caffeine in it. This goes down the hatch at around the 2 hour mark to kick in nicely just as I am preparing to get out onto the run.
Onto the run and again I keep things simple, I have 2 more caffeine gels in my T2 bag which I take out with me onto the run course. I normally skip the first aid station or just rinse with some water as I settle into my running then I take on a mouthful of coke and a bit of water at every aid station after that. With the gels I aim for roughly around the 7-8km point then again at 15-16km. This has proven to work well for me with my stomach handling it nicely and it giving me enough energy and a nice caffeine boost without causing me any problems and getting me to the finish line in the best shape possible.
The biggest thing though is to practice this before race day. Make sure there are no surprises from new products or foods that you haven’t had before. Make sure on your key rides and runs in training you are practicing your race fuelling strategy so you know how it feels. Don’t get sucked into the latest and greatest product at the expo in the days before the race and trust in your plan. Make it as easy for you to fuel as possible, this is why I empty my gels into a bottle so I don’t have to deal with carrying them or getting them out of my pockets then having the rubbish to carry. The time alert on my Garmin prompts me to keep putting the calories in and stops me forgetting if I get wrapped up in the race as missed calories on the bike can bite you hard on the run!
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