Bike Nutrition Tips For Ironman Triathlon

The following are the nutrition tips for an Ironman Triathlon event. Nutrition is one of the most important components of an Ironman Triathlon event, if you get it wrong you could be in for a very bad race.

1. Fitness and nutrition
Fitness alone is no guarantee of success in Ironman. Learning your nutrition requirements is the most important part of Ironman racing and the bike section is “the main course”.

2. Nutrition Mistakes
Triathletes know their maximum bike heart rate, power out put, average speed for a predicted time but fail to know how many calories they need per hour during the IM bike. Know how many calories a bar, a gel provide. It is easy to be 150 calories short an hour which is a whooping 900 shortfall at the end of a 6:00 bike! (900 calories will sustain you to run 9 miles).

3. Fluid requirements
The maximum amount of fluid you can efficiently use during the race is based on your weight. You must learn to consume fluids for your body size. You need 10ml per 1 kilo of body weight e.g. for a 70kg athlete the maximum that can be absorbed is 700ml fluid per hour.

If you need to drink 70ml in 60 minutes then how do you make sure you drink 700ml in an hour and have an even constant supply? If you gulp in 20ml (one squirt) at a time that will be 35 gulps.

If you drink every 10 minutes you will need 6 gulps every time, if however you drink every 15 minutes you will need to take in 9 gulps to use up 700ml in 60 minutes. The best way is to see how many sips you take to empty a 750ml bottle.

4. Calorie range
You need to work out the number of calories required on a minimum and maximum basis. If you consume less than the minimum (35%) of what you need you will quickly run out of energy. If you consume more than the maximum (60%) you will experience severe bloating resulting in either sickness or digestive shutdown meaning you will be unable to eat anything for at least an hour.

5. Training compared to Race nutrition
Once you have calculated the number of calories your body can absorb effectively for every hour of training make sure you adjust this for racing. If you use 400 calories combined from fluid and food in training you may cover at least an extra 10% further in the race meaning you need to consume at least 440 calories.

This needs to be tried and tested during race pace training as it is a common unnecessary mistake. The slower you go in training the easier it is consume 500+ calories per hour on the bike.

6. Attention to detail
If you use one scoop full of carbohydrate drink in a 500ml bottle then DO NOT use two scoops in a 750ml, the bottle is not twice the volume use one and a half scoops. If you just grab a few bars and have no usage timetable, you will never learn.

7. Mood swings
Negative thoughts means it is time to have more calories. Mood is the best indicator of low energy levels. Minute by minute Ironman bike menu

8. Bike Menu for Ironman Race Day
0 -5 minutes: nothing unless you need to drink to remove salty taste from a sea swim.5-15 minutes: Water only.15- 60 minutes: Carbohydrate drinks & gels.

After first hour to last 60 minutes: Solids and bars with water; electrolyte drinks. Last 60 – 15 minutes before finish: Carbohydrate or electrolyte drinks & gels. Last 15 minutes: Nothing Gels and energy bars

9. Have gels before climbs or into head windsSolids at top or after climbs once recovered. Every 15 minutes take bite sizes of food. Pick up bananas from feed stations, one half portions per hour for the potassium to prevent cramp.

10. What to eat when?
Once you have reeced the course, you may need to amend your nutrition plan to accommodate the terrain. When you are trying hard up a hill or a section of headwind, the demands for oxygenated blood is high and demanding and your blood supply will be predominately in your legs. You must not create an extra demand on your digestive system which will divert blood away from your legs.

So have gels before climbs or into head winds as they are easier to absorb, along with carbohydrate drinks. Have your solids after a climb or at the top once recovered. You get tired when you have semi-digested food in your stomach. Have you ever been full up at the end of a main course but still been able to eat a dessert?

To perform effectively it is wise not to rely on solids for the whole of the race. Mentally it will be hard to keep energy levels high with the same foods so have variety and keep your taste buds stimulated. When tired your body will crave different foods sometimes salty (electrolyte) sometimes sweet; it is the body's way of telling you what it needs now.

Remember if eating well and feeling comfortable with solids make sure that you are also keeping hydrated with just water.