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3766 Views 7 Replies Latest reply: May 10, 2010 11:20 AM by IronMakeover
SethW06 Amateur 25 posts since
Oct 13, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

May 6, 2010 12:37 PM

pre/during race nutrition

Hi everyone,


I'm looking for advice on nutrition for before and during my first sprint triathlon.  My first sprint is in about 6 weeks.  It's on the longer end of the sprint race spectrum, a 1k swim, 17mi bike, and the 5k run.  With the paces I estimate for myself, it should take me a little under 2 hours.  Before my training sessions, I usually eat a banana and for longer days (over an hour) I add a serving of oatmeal typically.  This has worked well for me for runs up to 90min or so.


I'm wondering my fuel intake should be during the race.  On those longer runs, I typically just drink ~200 calories from gatorade.  I'm thinking for the sprint I will want to have more fuel than what I typically do for my long runs.  Should I eat a little more in the morning and then just stick with gatorade during the race?  Or is it better to have the smaller pre-race meal and take in more calories during the race?  I'm thinking I will be able to fuel up the most during the bike portion.  Should I consider just water for hydration and try out Gu's or other "candies" during the bike?  Any suggestions would be great.  Thanks.



2009 Races

Baltimore Running Festival 5K 10/10/09 29:53

RAMPace 5K 11/21/09 28:15

2010 Races

Tri to Help Maryland Indoor Triathlon 3/6/10 525yds/10min swim, 10.2mi/30min bike, 2.08mi/20min run

Shamrock 8K 3/20/10 46:34

Apple Blossom 10K 5/1/10 56:32

Celebration Sprint Triathlon 6/27/10 2:20:59

Hammer Man Triathlon 9/25/10 1:40:42

Columbus Half-Marathon 10/17/10 2:10:12

  • Joe_h1 Community Moderator 1,833 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. May 6, 2010 1:20 PM (in response to SethW06)
    Re: pre/during race nutrition

    best bet is go with stuff that has worked for you in practice. if you want to try different stuff and different amounts now is the time not raceday. play around with nutrition and see what works for you and what didn't.  good luck and have fun

    goals for 2011:

    break 19minutes for 5k

    break 2:42 for olympic triathlon probably Anthracite olympic

    break 3:16 for marathon ( a long shot but it's fun putting yourself out there)

  • dkhartung Pro 98 posts since
    Aug 2, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. May 6, 2010 1:27 PM (in response to SethW06)
    Re: pre/during race nutrition

    First, I would suggest not "trying" anything in the race that you haven't been using in your training.

    Second, Don't sweat the nutrition issue for a Sprint, especially a first tri.


    Go ahead and eat your good breakfast.  Oatmeal and a banana should be fine if that's what you're use to doing.

    You ight want to sip water while you're setting up transition and waiting for the swim start.  That way you'll be hydrated at the start.

    On the bike, unless it's really hot you shouldn't need more than a water bottle.  If you feel like you need it, make it a sports drink of your choice.

    Drink as needed at the aid stations on the run.


    Remember, we carry a bit more than 2,000 calories of glycogen when we start.  More than enough to get through a two hour event so you really shouldn't need to take in calories.  If you want a little cushion and have practiced with it, take a gel on the bike and you can always grab one on the run as well (check with the race to see what they will be providing).


    Net:  It's your first tri, go have fun, and don't worry about needing to eat during the race.  Just top off the fluids before your start, take in a bottle on the bike, and run by feel and you'll be fine.  Nutrition really doesn't become a factor until you start pushing past the Olympic distance in my opinion.

  • Tri 2 Do It Pro 84 posts since
    Jan 2, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. May 6, 2010 1:43 PM (in response to SethW06)
    Re: pre/during race nutrition

    I think you got some good info and suggestions from the first two posts.  I especially agree with the advice on fluid intake, as hydration (including electrolytes) is important for any activity that's going to take ~2 hours.

  • Amigold Legend 185 posts since
    Nov 14, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. May 7, 2010 8:58 AM (in response to SethW06)
    Re: pre/during race nutrition

    I'm going to add a bit of different aspect to this question.


    First, I too always heard that on a sprint you don't need to worry about intake of food, just drink or sports drink.  However, I'm not sure that advice was not primarily for those who are (a) young (b) male, (c) very fit, and (d) going to finish that sprint in a very short time frame. None of which applies to me. It also doesn't take into account the time between your breakfast and the start of your wave.


    On my first sprint, I heeded the advice, and bonked on the run. Part of that was because between breakfast at home (4:30 a.m.) and my wave start (9:30 a.m.) was a very long, long time.  Part of it is that it took me a long time, as a slow newbie, to finish the race.  So take a look at your drive time, your set up time, when your wave starts, and how long you think it will take you to finish.  Most books say prime fuel time is 2-4 hours before race.  However, for me, when I go three-four hours without fuel, I seem to need something small to jump start me (obviously you don't want to eat anything large or heavy right before you start or you'll just carry it along with you in a bad place!).


    On my second sprint, I took in a half banana an hour before my wave, and a half GU packet on the bike. I increased my times dramatically and had no bonk.


    I think the biggest thing is to practice your nutrition during training and see what works for you.  You may need nothing but sports drink, you may need a gummy bear or two, or you may need a full GU on a sprint. Everyone is built differently and reacts differently.  Everyone races differently. So practice taking in different things during your training and see what gives you the best results.


    Good luck!



  • mjm 62 Pro 91 posts since
    May 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. May 7, 2010 9:52 AM (in response to SethW06)
    Re: pre/during race nutrition

    Hey Seth,pretty good advice in here but most of us find out what works by trial and error.I always carry 2 gel packs on the bike along with Gatorade,will I need them?Better to have and not need than to need and not have I always say.I've got a sprint tommorrow but it's going to be in the 80's and humid,I'll have some Gatorade and a plain bagel 1 hour prior plus what I'll take on the bike,so far it's worked for me but again everyone is different.Good luck,Mike

    Cape Coral Yacht club sprint 1:03

    FGCU sprint 1:03

    Columbus Marathon 3:50-2010

    Gator Half Ironman 5:43-2009

    Venice sprint 1:09/25th overall

    Captiva sprint 1:04

  • pacificfit Legend 147 posts since
    Jan 9, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. May 7, 2010 6:24 PM (in response to SethW06)
    Re: pre/during race nutrition

    Hi Seth,


    If you can go 90 minutes or under, I'd eat very little or nothing at all, since you body has enough storage carbohydrates on board to supply you with about 2 hours worth of exercise fuel. Eat a good, complex carbohydrate based, gluten-free meal, like a couple sweet potatoes, 2 hours prior, then just have a gel directly before the race. You can go through about a half to 1 bottle water on the bike, and may want to carry 1 extra gel for the run turnaround.


    Ben Greenfield

    My blog is at

    Also, I'm giving away a free 7-part series on "How To Become Superhuman" at

  • IronMakeover Community Moderator 738 posts since
    Jul 7, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. May 10, 2010 11:20 AM (in response to Amigold)
    Re: pre/during race nutrition


    Important fueling advice, thanks for adding your real-world experience and how small changes, and differences in timing, worked for you!

    :-) Sara

    Sara Cox Landolt

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