Being prepared, not only for what, but also for how, you will stay properly fuelled and hydrated, requires careful planning.
You will need to read your event guide carefully to understand what is available and how the transition flow will work. Practice race-day nutrition and logistics often in training.
Check the event guide for which hydration and nutrition products will be available at aid stations. Practice using them in training. If you prefer alternative products (or plan to take backup supplies in case of shortages), consider how you will carry them (hydration pack or belt) and practice in training.
Create your own “aid station” at home to practice nutrition on your long runs. Stash your planned nutrition and hydration products on your front doorstep or mailbox. Run by your house to mimic the timing of aid stations and practice specifically your refuelling to train your gut.
Consider your hydration and nutrition needs carefully. In general, for longer events, it’s best to use your water bottles for hydration and carry your nutrition in your jersey pockets and/or bike bento box.
The bike leg is the best time to take on nutrition because you can easily carry bottles, bars and gels. Your upper body is static, which makes it easier to consume food and drink on the move. Think of it as a buffet on wheels.
If your event has ride-by-aid stations, practice before your race. Normally, there is a drop zone to drop one of your water bottles. You then ride by a volunteer who is holding out a bottle of water or sports drink, which you need to grab.
You will need to be aware of your speed and steering to keep yourself, other riders, and the volunteers safe. Have a friend hold out a bottle at home - and practice dropping one and picking up one there. It will make race day go more smoothly.
Be sure to read your event guide to fully understand what is available and how the transition flow will work. Practice race-day nutrition and logistics often in training.
General Logistical Tips
- Consider emptying gels into a soft collapsible 250ml hydrapak (collapsible water bottle). These can be carried on a running belt or trisuit pocket. Depending on the gels' viscosity, adding water may be necessary.
- If you use blocs, chews or gummies, consider opening up the packet(s) and dumping them directly into your cycling jersey pocket, bike bento box or running belt pocket.
- If using energy bars, make a small cut near the top of them so that they’re easy to tear open. If the bars are big, consider cutting them into bite-sized pieces.
- For speed and safety, do what you can to minimize fiddling with your nutrition during the race.
Training Practice and Racing Tips
If you are using solid food, practice eating them at race pace during training. It’s easier to swallow a peanut butter sandwich on an easy ride than when you’re breathing hard during a race - and the time to find out that you can’t chew your food is before race day.
Set a timer to remind you when to eat/drink according to your planned nutritional needs. Practice and plan how to use your water bottles (hydration or hydration plus nutrition) as well as your bike bento box and/or tri-suit pockets.
For both the bike and run, utilise on-course products if they work for you. If they don't, you will need to plan how you will carry your nutritional supplies.
Check the articles below for more about your nutrition and hydration needs during your event.
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