Fueling the Sprint to Iron Distance Race

Especially with longer triathlons, it’s common to hear about poor runs, usually blamed on a great bike leg. Before you blame the bike, consider your fueling strategy.

  • Sprint distance: Sports drink is usually enough. If you’re in the front of the pack, you can just rely on the first aid station on the run. If you’re in the middle or back of the pack, bring a bottle on the bike. Do overdo it; 8 – 16 oz is good before you get to T2.
  • Olympic distance: A bit more planning. Faster athletes should have a gel once settled in on the bike and finish a 16 – 20 oz bottle of sports drink before T2. Eat another gel as soon as running race-pace and take in fluids as your belly allows. Middle or back of the pack athletes should add another gel roughly 30-45 minutes into the bike and run.
  • Half or full Ironman: Fueling is critical! Hydration needs vary so much between athletes, but 16– 24 oz sports drink per hour should be good. Also shoot for a couple hundred calories of solid food every hour on the bike. A favorite of mine is banana, honey, PB, and crushed pretzels wrapped in a tortilla. After T2, bars, pretzels, and gels are all good options. At this point I tend to gravitate towards salty, rather than sweet, foods, but that’s up to your taste buds. Keep hydrating with small sips at aid stations as needed.