The Race Nutrition Plan: 70.3

Someone asked me about nutrition for their first 70.3 at Eagleman next weekend, along with wondering if they should bring a space tube. I thought my answer would be helpful to anyone planning for a 70.3. And my answer about the bike tube is definitely bring a spare tube and tools! If you flat—there is a slim chance that the support vehicle will find you and if they do, it will likely be a while. Do pump your tires up that morning and that should minimize flatting. And practice changing your tire–it’s not hard and you’ll be less stressed if it happens.

There will be water on course and from what I hear, the support is good at Eagleman. That said— as a rule I drink one water bottle per hour and I use 1 scoop of EFS in each for a total of 270 calories. If it’s hot, or if I want, I probably grab a water on course and drink some pour some on me and then throw it aside. I don’t stop to refill. I suppose you could if you wanted to, but you could put the new bottle in your cage and it should be fine. Watch out for water bottles along the course–a hazard! If you’re comfortable with a Camelback you could certainly use that, although it’s not something I do. Aim for at least 1 bottle per hour and more if it’s hot. I also bring 3-4 gu’s and tape them to my top tube all in a row. (I may also use a EFS gel bottle that holds 3 gels but at this point I’m undecided.) I like to have one gel after the swim and then I have one every 45ish minutes on the bike. (My target time is around 3 hours so adapt accordingly) If I’m doubting myself or feel hungry, I eat another. I don’t do solids but if you do, bring a bento box and cut up your bars in pieces and put them in a baggie–easier to eat. Also, when I get on the bike—I usually rinse my mouth with my drink and then I’ll wait 15 minutes or so before taking in food to let my stomach settle because I likely will have tried to drink the lake and brackish water can make me nauseated. I try not to but somehow I always get a gulp! If I drink too soon I’ll puke. Once it settles down I go with the plan.

On the run, especially because it’s going to probably be hot, I bring a fuel belt with 2 bottles filled with 1 scoop each of EFS 180 calories with the goal of finishing 1 per 10K with water supplementing on course. I’ll take a gel I’ve brought with the flavors I like (plain and blackberry) every 30-45 minutes depending on how I’m feeling. Towards the end I’ll look forward to the next gel! On course, I may eat one of their gels and I will take a slice of orange if it’s offered. They might have candy, pretzels and coke but I don’t really do any of that. I really try to keep it simple so my gut feels good. I’m not a fan of Gatorade or Powerade so that’s why I bring my own fuel belt. And, I don’t like getting mixed up with people at the stations except for some water. Also, it helps me make sure that I stick to my hydration plan. Note that once you start drinking coke, you’ll need to continue so don’t do it unless you are seriously bonking. If you’ve fueled along the way you shouldn’t need to and I think that mostly this is something reserved (and likely necessary) for Ironman.

Before the start, eat a good breakfast of at least 300 calories or so. I eat about 180 calories of a drink and then a slice of toast with peanut butter or a yogurt with granola, depending on the hotel situation. Then after that I take a diluted EFS drink or whatever you drink (Gatorade, Powerade, Clif, etc) and sip it prior to the start. On the way over to the swim I’ll take a full pack of Cliff shot blocks. I plan on taking about 2-3 blocks prior to the start and then if I get delayed I’ll eat the other 3 otherwise I’ll throw them out. I’ve been delayed by an hour and this has been important. (At this race, I start 1 hour and 20 minutes after transition closes so I will bring a little something to eat or just more liquid calories) I really recommend making a plan–if you forget to eat you’ll bonk so just keep getting little bits in you even if you don’t feel like it because you might not.

A rule of thumb is to target about 150-200 calories per hour on the bike this way you won’t bonk the run. If you’re only drinking water, you’ll need to supplement with more gels, beans or other product. I find the gels easiest to get the calories in so it doesn’t feel like you have a gut bomb. You won’t be able to eat very much on the run, especially if it’s hot, so the bike is the time. Definitely practice eating if you haven’t done so already.

I like EFS 1st Endurance because of the electrolytes and mild flavor. Gatorade makes me puke. (Careful celiacs because it’s not GF!) Hammer products have a weird sugar for my taste but I know many people like it. I do enjoy Clif products very much. I try to go for not so sweet and as natural as possible. So lots of trial, error and nausea! This is my game plan for 70.3 racing and I hope it helps!

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14 thoughts on “The Race Nutrition Plan: 70.3

  1. A – I always dread the thought of a flat as I am not even sure if I can change a flat. Usually my scariest “what if” scenario in a race. Never had to do it and seen a guy do it once. Really should change all that…

    B – Amazing nutritional breakdown. thanks!

    1. You’re welcome! Fixing a flat is not hard, you just have to be methodical about it. Definitely try it before your next race. Congrats on finishing Florida 70.3 again–that’s where I was last year but this year we decided to do the iconic Eagleman. It’s supposed to be flat and fast (and surely fun!).

  2. Thanks for this Elizabeth, I really got a lot out of it. Like you I cannot handle the sweeter sports drinks. I’ve found one that suits my needs and it is actually used on course which is a bonus. BTW good luck with your 70.3 this weekend, I’m sure you’ll smash it! – Simone

    1. Thanks Simone! I’m glad you found this helpful. You know by the end of the race I want to chuck my fuel belt (and surely I would in an Ironman) but it really does help me to drink what I’m supposed to drink and not bonk. I’m looking forward to some fun and hope that my foot will cooperate! Elizabeth

      1. I hope it holds up for you too, I will be sending you some positive vibes. Look forward to reading your race report! 🙂

  3. Thank you for this post! I’m actually getting ready to do my first 1/2 Ironman this weekend (Boise). I’ve talked to my coach and I have a plan for my nutrition, but it’s still nice to hear what other people do on the race course as well.

    1. You’re welcome! Good luck at Boise. Sounds like you’re going to do great. With a good plan you’ll be passing people on the run for sure–picking off the carnage of bad plans! 🙂

  4. Love this post and a wealth of good information- thanks
    When you carry the put the scoop of EFS in the fuel belt bottles (mixed with water right?) and you drink that concentration as you drink water on the course…? 1 fuel belt bottle per 10k on the run.. Do I have that right?
    You don’t supplement electrolytes or take salt tablets since the EFS has a good electrolyte mix…right?
    I bought my first canister of EFS about 3 weeks ago, mainly after looking at the electrolyte benefit. I was a little suspicious when it was sort of tasteless. Thought: something that doesn’t have much taste can’t be doing me any good: wrong. I call it my silent supplement.
    thanks again for the post.

    1. You’re welcome Marvin! I love that you call it your ‘silent suppliment’ because no, you shouldn’t have to salt suppliment with EFS, which is one of the great benefits. (I did like endurolytes when i used hammer products). EFS Grape has very mild flavor but tropical is a bit stronger –the orange is pretty good too. And yes 1 fuel belt concentrate mixed with water per 10k supplimented with on course water works for me. The benefit to mild flavor is that you don’t get sick of it on a long ride. Their gel is a bit on the sweet side so that’s why I don’t use it regularly. (Berry is better than vanilla and I have Kona coffee arriving shortly). Hope this helps!

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