Nutrition Plan: Test Drive In The Off-Season

[caption id="attachment_9207" align="alignright" width="225"]endurance - nutrition - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run Source: Holloway Running[/caption] Nutrition is considered the fourth discipline of triathlon or maybe the 5th with recovery as the 4th.  Either way you look at it nutrition and specifically nutrition planning is key to a successful training cycle as well as a race result you will be happy with.  When I started training and racing triathlon I was like anybody else and I was downing gels every 30 minutes.  As I have become more and more experienced I realized that I had no need to do that yet I continue to test and re-test my nutrition. I am currently training for the Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile Trail Race in February and while not a triathlon this will be a long race.  If I am able to finish the race at even a 10:00/mi pace we are talking about 500 minutes, or 8h20m, of running.  That is a long time and I need to be prepared to fuel during the race.  Having no clue what to fuel with is not a terrific strategy so I am using the 11 weeks of training to test out the products I use for Ironman racing to see if that will hold up during this long of a race.  I am going into it believing that it will but that doesn't mean that I do not test and find different solutions if need be. During Ironman, and Half-Ironman, racing I use a combination of Herbalife24 Prepare and Prolong with First Endurance Liquid Shot on the bike and then just the liquid shot on the run.  The way I used these products was to have the Herbalife in two water bottles on the bike and have them contain approximately 700 calories (350 per bottle) and then an EFS flask in my shorts pocket.  This combination gives me ~1200 calories and 3700mg of electrolytes.  The pattern has been to consume one of the bottles in the first 1-1.5 hours and toss it and add a water bottle from an aid station to my bike.  Over the next hour or so I take in water along with half of the EFS flask.  Once that is done I go back to the calorie laden water bottle and water.  After that bottle is done I throw it away and add another water bottle to my bike and finish off the flask.  Using this method I have stayed hydrated and kept the calories and electrolytes flowing throughout the ride. Today I am planning on doing the same thing but I am practicing something during training that I hope will aid me toward the end of the Rocky Raccoon race.  Currently my running during the week is anywhere from 45 minutes to an 1 hour and 15 minutes I have scrapped taking anything outside of Herbalife24 Hydrate in my water bottles.  This product has little to no calories but contains 460mg of electrolytes.  I am teaching my body to use the stored fat I have as energy.  We carry ~20,000 calories of fat in our systems so why not use that instead of taking in unnecessary calories during a short run.  I have even gone as long as 15 miles, outdoors, without any additional calories and saw no reduction in performance but as those runs get longer I will be taking calories on the run with me to prevent bonking and to aid in recovery. When the training miles climb into the 20s or three hours of running I will practice with a peanut butter and jelly, which I know will be on the course, to see how my body reacts to it.  My biggest fear is that an all liquid nutrition plan will not be as easy to deal with during a 50 mile run as it is on a 112 mile bike ride.  On the bike we are not jostling our stomachs as much as it will be tossed around while running and especially on a trail.  With all the up and down movement I need to make sure that whatever solid food I take in will not have an adverse reaction.  I am not planning on eating a PB&J, or any Oreos but once on the course you never know what you may grab just because it looks good at that time.  Without planning for it that could be a grave mistake, one that sends me to the porto-potty and makes what was already a long day become even longer. [caption id="attachment_9206" align="alignright" width="300"]endurance - nutrition - rocky raccoon - ultra - trail - run RR50 Aid Station BUFFET
Source: Runners World[/caption] This coming Saturday I have a 19 mile run scheduled and because of Karen's training and having Chico this weekend I will start the run at 5am on the treadmill.  This will give me the perfect opportunity to test out the idea of taking in a PB&J.  Should I have an adverse reaction the bathroom will be my own and not some tree in the middle of the forest of Grapevine Lake.  In testing out different foods from what will be on the course at the aid stations I should be fully prepared for what is to come on race day.  That being said had I not trained with it I would be going into un-chartered territory and on the course is not the time to figure out that a Oreo or Fig Newton is not going to be the right fuel for you.

How Do You Practice Your Nutrition Plan?

  ** Image on cover photo of article courtesy of
Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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