Race Day Nutrition

Nov 11, 2020

When Dean completed his first Ironman race in 2013, he was having his perfect race... until he wasn’t. He was on pace to Kona Qualify until the proverbial 16th mile of the marathon. At that point he bonked. I was a bit shocked, as I’ve been watching him race since middle school. This guy is always prepared and always implements his race plan with precision.

As with any good wife 😇, I congratulated him and celebrated at the finish line. But as a coach, I had questions. After letting him bask in the glory of completing his first Ironman and giving him a day or two to recover and self-reflect, I could wait no longer. “So, Babe, typically when an athlete bonks, it’s related to execution. Have you thought about a root cause?” Over bike? No. Bike nutrition? Executed to a T. Pace too aggressive at beginning of run? No. Run nutrition? “I wasn’t hungry on the run...”. Wait. What?

Lesson Learned

Ironman is quite the long endurance event, so evidently even the most seasoned and disciplined athletes can lose sight of properly fueling on race day. In the 2020 scaled down version of the London Marathon, favored to win athlete, Eliud Kipchoge, fumbled his bottle and missed out on implementing a portion of his race nutrition plan. Did this affect the outcome of his results? It certainly didn’t help.

Occasionally we will on-board an athlete late in a training cycle - maybe three weeks prior to the big race. As part of the intake process, we will ask what race nutrition has been practiced during long runs to date. Crickets! It seems the plan is to snack at the buffet of aid station options along the route. We are strong advocates of Nothing New on Race Day. (Click here to read this story).

Next Steps

Race nutrition is not a one size fits all strategy. The gut must be trained. A variety of options will likely need to be tested before finding what works. Once a race fueling plan is found that works, it needs to be practiced somewhat regularly.

In an earlier article, we discussed working with our athletes to fuel correctly daily (Click here to read this story). We also partner with our athletes to ensure they have a during race nutrition plan that is rehearsed and proven to work.

If you’d like to partner with us, join here.


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