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Nutrition Advice From Our Sponsored Athletes

We've all seen it happen in races and it may have happened to you as well. The dreaded bonk. Someone's off the front of the race, faster than everyone else and holding a healthy gap. The win looks like it's theirs for the taking. Then all of a sudden they start to fade, time slips through their hands and they get pulled back in by the rest of the pack. They're out of energy and just can't keep up the pace any more.

It's one of the worst feeling in the world, but it can be avoided with correct nutrition. Ensuring that your body is fed the correct amounts of water, carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients before, after and during the race can help you perform better and recover faster. Nutrition should be tailored to the rider, the type of competition and the conditions of the day.

To help give you some ideas we caught up with some of our sponsored athletes to find out what they eat during races and intense training sessions.

 

Ironman - Eimear Mullen (Ironman UK 70.3 Champion)

 

Race Week

During race week I keep my nutrition as normal as possible adjusting slightly for the reduction in training.

2-3 days before I increase the intake of carbohydrates slightly, but I wouldn’t say I carb load as such. Examples of high carb foods I use are sweet potatoes, oats, rice, quinoa, oatcakes, fruit juice, bananas, other fruits etc.

1 day before I keep it simple;

Breakfast: eggs and oats/porridge

Lunch: Chicken or beef burger with some carbs such as chips, potatoes, rice etc.

Snack (if I'm hungry): Bananas, apples, fruit juice, energy bar, rice cakes with peanut butter and jam etc

Dinner: Fish with rice, potato or sweet potato plus ice cream (or something similar) for dessert.

Race morning: 2 eggs any style, large bowl of porridge with coconut oil (or butter) and honey, coffee. If I’m hungry or feel like I need something else will have a High 5 Energy bar and a banana.

 

Race Day

I sip on High 5 ZERO electrolyte drink before the start

0-30 minutes into the race: High 5 Zero only

At 30 minutes I have either ½ High 5 energy bar or homemade energy snack (Oats, coconut oil, almond butter, honey) and then continue this roughly every 30 minutes after that.

Around every 45 minutes I will have an energy gel (sometimes I will increase this if I feel I need more so I usually carry a little more than I think I will need) the last 2 gels will be caffeinated.

At the half way point I will sip on High 5 energy source as well as water with High5 zero.

On the run I start with energy chews or simply sweets such as jelly babies and I will take one roughly every 10 minutes.

I also take 1 gel every 25-30 minutes and water at every aid station.

With around 15k to go I take coke and water. If I’m struggling I’ll take coke earlier (it can be a lifesaver!)

 

Recovery

As soon as possible I have a High 5 protein recovery drink and protein bar. As soon as I feel I can eat properly I will eat as much as I can and whatever I feel like.

It’s good to have a plan that you have used before but if it’s not working on the day you may need to adjust it, just don’t panic. Ironman nutrition takes time to perfect and can be different for every race depending on heat, terrain, and what’s available at the race. It’s still a work in progress for me.

 

 

 

Ironman 70.3 - Ritchie Nicholls (Ironman 70.3 European Champion 2013)

 

In a 70.3 I like to go on feel regarding nutrition, but there is some consistency in what I will eat before the start and carry with me in the race.

Around three hours before the start of the race I eat a breakfast consisting of cereal, toast with butter and jam and coffee. From then on I sip on an energy drink until the start of the race.

During the race I carry a 750ml bottle of energy drink and a 500ml bottle filled with gels. Throughout the race I will regularly sip on both bottles with the aim of fishing both bottles by the end of the bike, unless the race is particularly hot when I will try and go through an additional 750ml bottle of water.

On the run I generally have a mouthful of water at each aid station and a gel at half way if I feel it's needed.

 

 

 

Road Racing – Jake Tanner (Christina Watches-Kuma Continental Cycling Team)

In my recent tours it has been hard to eat as I would have liked due to the constant travel and switching of hotels almost every day. This is not ideal as in most cases we are limited to what food the hotels serve. I am aware that I need to take on lots of complex carbs before racing, not only to replace calories burned but to re-fuel for the following day. It's especially important during long stage races. I always ensure that my post-race meal includes some kind of protein for muscle repair, usually in the form of lean meat like fish or chicken. I have lactose intolerance which is especially problematic while travelling. I try and have soya milk and rice milk and these have less fat and refined sugars so in reality are much better for me anyway.

 

My usual daily intake would consist of:

Breakfast: Oats, with dry fruit, nuts and soy or rice milk. Fruit juice and a coffee to drink

Or if it’s a late start, Brunch: Rice and vegetables

During a 200km race: 7x gels and 4x energy bars, 30k to go drink Coca cola

Post Race tea: Firstly a recovery shake and then usually some kind of pasta or rice based meal with chicken or fish and vegetables. I usually always have some kind of desert if its available – chocolate anything.

Snacks: Low fat yogurt, bananas, Dried fruit and nuts, Oreos or Haribo

Favourite meal before 5 hour race: Lasagne with green vegetables and potatoes

 

 

We recommend that you try various types and amounts of nutrition on and off the bike before your race or sportive. Doing this as part of your training will help to find the right balance between too little and too much (something which is often not talked about). Too much nutrition on the bike can also lead to an upset stomach, so getting it right is really important.