There’s no feeling like it.
Months of training, years of mentally preparing yourself, and it all comes down to three hours of intense power and pain. If you’re lucky.
Completing your first triathlon has been likened to the best, and worst, feeling in the world but, however you feel afterwards, there’s little doubting the importance of nutrition during and pre-triathlon.
As a lifestyle nutrition brand, we love seeing our customers’ training photos, whether it’s the view from their daily jog or their exhausted (yet ecstatic!) face after beating their PB in training for a great event like a triathlon. Lifestyle nutrition means exactly that, nutrition to support your active lifestyle, in all its guises.
Though, training for a triathlon is an intense business. Here we speak to the experts about what training for a triathlon entails and what you need to think about when it comes to nutrition.
The Castle Triathlon Series formed in 2009 and sees thousands of triathletes attend their events throughout the year. The stunning and impressive backdrops they organise for each triathlon have included Lough Cutra, Chantilly and Castles Howard, Cholmondeley and Hever. Here they give their tips for training triathletes.
"Be prepared nutrition-wise, after 10 years of running triathlon events we have seen how nutrition can make such a difference to your race day experience. Trial and test nutrition throughout training so that your body is used to it by race day, check what is being offered by events at their feed and drink stations and where these are featured on the course. Make sure to stay hydrated and be careful not to litter, preparing how you store or responsibly dispose of packets and bottles is key, especially on our stunning countryside courses!"
Nutrition for each stage
A triathlon is not a sprint (unless you’re counting the sprint distance!) but, regardless of which format you’re training for, you have to prepare for each stage individually.
Sports retailer Decathlon has been supplying triathletes with products for years. Here, Decathlon triathlon Leader, Nicholas Manzoni, offers us his advice.
“Depending on their level, triathletes can take up to 45 minutes for a sprint distance, up to 4 hours for Olympic distance and up to 17 hours for an Ironman. Each stage requires specific preparation in terms of nutrition, but the long distances are certainly the greatest challenge.
The most important nutrients when running are water, carbohydrates and sodium.
In order to ensure optimum hydration, drink 500 to 750 ml of water per hour of effort.
It is essential to consume carbohydrates to maintain the level of your energy stocks. Try to replenish your stocks by taking on 30 g of carbohydrates per hour of effort for triathlons of under 3 hours and 60 g to 80 g per hour for triathlons of over 3 hours.
Sodium is an essential mineral. It is necessary for counterbalancing losses connected with effort. Isotonic drinks contain the right dosage of sodium. However, during XL triathlons, you will need to add incorporate tablets into the nutritional strategy adopted to counterbalance losses, that may vary from 115 to 700 mg per hour, or even more for poorly acclimatised triathletes.
Consume a short-distance energy gel before you dive in - it will give you a little boost for the swimming, the stage where it is impossible to take on food.
Your priority should be hydration. Start drinking as soon as possible. ISO and ISO+ are the perfect drinks, since they provide a good dose of liquid and carbohydrates, along with a decent quantity of sodium. Choose ISO for triathlons of under 3 hours and ISO + for triathlons of more than 3 hours.
Complete your energy intake and prepare for any sudden fatigue on the bike with energy bars.
Make sure you don't miss any water stations, so you can stay fully hydrated. This will help you maintain your running pace. You should also have some energy gels ready throughout the run.”
Hydration is incredibly important when it comes to training and completing a triathlon. There’s no substitute for getting enough water into your body but an electrolyte blend, like our Coconut and Pink Salt Electrolyte Blend, can offer natural replenishment of the mineral ions lost through sweat – something than has to be expected at some point during your triathlon training!
Training for a triathlon puts your body through a lot so you have to make sure you’re giving yourself time to recover between training sessions and giving your body the right nutrition to aid in recovery. Triathlete Amy Kilpin is experienced in triathlon training and knows the importance of recovery, here she offers her tips.
“Training for three sports puts your body under considerable stress, so ensuring optimum recovery is key. This means taking on sufficient protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of a session which is higher intensity or longer in duration, and supplementing with amino acids which can help to build muscle, repair damaged muscle tissue and also boost the immune system.
Eating a diet rich in micronutrients also helps the body to cope with the rigours of a demanding training regime, by providing it with that it needs to keep a strong and well-functioning immune system, to reduce inflammation and also improve overall recovery and performance.”
Vegan nutrition tips
Sam Taylor, of Plantbased Sam T blog, is a vegan triathlete, but she started competing at an elite level with TaekwonDo. She credits her later European silver and World bronze medal international martial arts success to her switch to a vegan diet and has since gone on to represent Great Britain in triathlons. Here she gives her advice:
“The main difference was my change to a plant-based diet in 2014, guided by nutritionist Sylvia Sobota at Nurture Your Body. Which, along with my highly focused work ethic, I credit to my eventual success in TaekwonDo and quick success in triathlon.
I did my first triathlon in March 2017 for Comic Relief, three months later in June I qualified to represent GB at the Llandudno Sea Tri ITU Qualifier. Then in September, six months after that first tri I came 29th in the 25-29 age group at the ITU World Sprint Championships!”
“A key component has indeed been my plant-based diet, as it gives me a formidable adaption and recovery rate, so has quite literally been my recovery for success.
This year I have stepped up to Olympic distance racing and in my first race at this distance qualified to represent GBR at the 2018 World Championships in the Gold Coast, Auz in September.”
There are plenty of vegan products out there that can help supplement your diet in preparation for a big event. Nutristrength Pea Protein is popular with our vegan customers as it offers a great tasting pea protein that they can conveniently add to their favourite smoothie recipes or meals for that added protein boost.
Training for a triathlon is no mean feat, it takes months of practice to establish such a level of endurance and fitness so you can find it becoming a part of your life.
Nutristrength lifestyle nutrition aims to be exactly that, nutrition that supplements your lifestyle. The training stage needs the right level of nutrition as much as the triathlon itself, so make sure your body is getting the sustenance it needs, which is something that is unique to everyone, in order to see the results come race day.