Hammer Nutrition Blog

Tips for a Successful Half or Full Iron Distance Triathlon

Posted by cvanloan on 08/25/2010 in Fueling Advice,Hot Tips | No Comments »

Marni Sumbal races in Coliseum Rock 'N RollMan Half

Author: Steve Born


  • Avoid the temptation to train too much and/or too close to race day! – You will not be able to positively influence your fitness level in the days leading up to the race; however, you can negatively impact your race by training during that time (training meaning anything of significant duration or intensity). As well-known coach Jeff Cuddeback (pictured right) states, “The week of any event of this duration should be all about resting up and topping off your energy stores. Training is done to keep the engine lubed and tuned up, nothing more. If you think you’re going to further your fitness through training the week of your key race, you’re sadly mistaken. If you are the type to train right up to the event, you will almost certainly under perform.”

    Best performances in long-duration events are achieved by getting to the starting line well rested rather than razor sharp. In doing so, you may find yourself not hitting on all cylinders during those first few minutes. In fact, you might even struggle a bit. However, your body will not forget all the training you’ve done and it will absolutely reward you for giving it the time it needed to “soak up” all of that training.

  • Don’t let your diet deviate too much from what got you there in the first place!

    FLUIDS – Don’t drink excess amounts of water in the hopes of getting a head start on your fluid requirements for the race. Consumption of roughly .5 to .6 of your body weight is a good gauge in regards to how much water you should be consuming daily (example: 180-lb athletes should drink approximately 90-108 ounces of water daily). However, if you’ve not been following this recommendation consistently, don’t start now, as this will overwhelm your body with too much fluid too soon, which may increase the potential for hyponatremia.
    SOURCE: Hydration – What You Need to Know

    CALORIES – Don’t stuff yourself with extra food in the hopes that you’re “carbo loading.” The time period for carbohydrate loading (i.e., maximizing muscle glycogen storage capabilities) has, for all intents and purposes, passed. In essence, “carbo loading” is what you did in the 0-60 minutes after all your workouts leading up to the race. That’s when the glycogen synthase enzyme—which controls glycogen storage—is most active, and that’s how you topped off your glycogen stores. Any excess food you eat in the days leading up to the race is either going to be passed through the bowels or stored in adipose cells… neither of those things will benefit you.
    SOURCE: Recovery – A Crucial Component of Athletic Success

    SODIUM – Don’t consume extra sodium (salt) in the hopes that you’ll be “topping off your body stores” prior to the race. Since the average American already consumes approximately 6000 to 8000 mg per day (if not more), an amount well above the upper end recommended dose of 2300-2400 mg/day, there is absolutely no need to increase that amount in the days prior to the race. (Hint: Adopting a low-sodium diet will do wonders for both your health and athletic performance). High sodium intake, especially in the days leading up to the race, is a recipe for disaster because it will greatly increase the potential for disruption of the hormonal mechanisms that control sodium regulation, re-circulation, and conservation. In the days leading up the race, be especially cognizant of the salt content in your foods, especially if you go out to eat. Dining out can easily increase your already-high salt intake dramatically (into double figures!).
    SOURCE: Electrolyte Replenishment – Why It’s So Important and How to Do It Right


Eat clean, eat until you’re satisfied, then call it a night – You can’t positively affect muscle glycogen storage capabilities the night before the race, a time when the glycogen synthase enzyme—which again, is the enzyme that controls glycogen storage—is inactive (hint: that’s why post-workout refueling is so important). Consume complex carbohydrates, some high quality protein, and low-to-no saturated fat, and be sure to drink sufficient amounts (but not too much) of water. Skip the alcohol, fatty foods, and dessert… save those “rewards” for after the race.
SOURCE: Recovery – A Crucial Component of Athletic Success


  • No calories three hours prior to the race – The first fuel your body will use when the race begins is muscle glycogen (again, this is why post-workout refueling is so vital). Eating a pre-race meal at the wrong time will negatively affect how your body utilizes its finite stores of glycogen, which will negatively impact your performance.
  • Don’t sacrifice sleep to eat – A better strategy than eating 1-2 hours prior to the race is to consume 1-2 servings of Hammer Gel 5-10 minutes prior to the start. That will top off liver glycogen stores nicely (the goal of the pre-race meal), and provide some calories to augment muscle glycogen stores during the swim portion, but without negatively affecting how muscle glycogen is utilized.
    SOURCE: How to Properly Fuel Prior to Workouts & Races


“Pre-emptive strike” dose of Endurolytes – Taking a dose of Endurolytes before the race will provide electrolytic mineral support for the swim portion, which is a time that fueling (calorie, fluid, electrolyte intake) is obviously not possible.
SOURCE: Electrolyte Replenishment – Why It’s So Important and How to Do It Right


1-2 servings of Hammer Gel – Optional if you’ve had a pre-race meal. Wise strategy to employ if you haven’t had a pre-race meal.
SOURCE: How to Properly Fuel Prior to Workouts & Races

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