Fresh off the back of competing at IRONMAN Dubai 70.3 this March, Rawvelo Ambassador Holly Mei Jones shared some insight into her fuelling plans when it comes to race day over this distance.
If you’re getting ready for your first half IRONMAN, or wondering how best to fuel during one, here are some of considerations.
With this being a distance that will likely take between 4 to 7-hours, your body will be predominantly reliant on carbohydrates for energy. Although your body will have glucose stores, this is not sufficient to get you through a race. Look at nutrition as the fourth discipline and train for it as well.
What type of fuel?
Carbohydrate is the best option for this, whether that's in drink, gel or bar form. Which you go for will depend on what you enjoy but also what you can stomach e.g faster athletes may avoid relying on only solids as they’re harder to chew when working hard. I’ve personally struggled to find the right gel, most have maltodextrin/fructose in which can cause Gastrointestinal (GI) issues, however using Rawvelo gels while racing it has kept my GI issues away. My personal favourite gel is the passion fruit and coconut.
How much should you consume?
A general guideline is 60g per hour, but not everyone can actually handle that amount and it does involve training to acc the body to be able to take in this much carbohydrate. A Rawvelo Gel contains around 20g carbohydrates, so I aim to have one straight after the swim then three per hour on the bike leg and two per hour on the run, although I personally find it more difficult to have gels while running. Depending on the heat I'll also try and get a bar down while on the bike leg too for some solids.
What about hydration?
This will be dependent on where you’re racing, in a warmer climate you’ll get through a lot more water. In the UK, I usually have two 500ml bottles, one with Rawvelo Hydration Drink mix and one with water. I find the hydration powder makes me more inclined to drink. The goal is always to drink little and often and I aim to drink every 20 minutes. But in Dubai, I was guzzling my drinks and ended up having to grab a couple of bottles from the aid stations to top up as well. On the run, I rely on the aid stations for water and usually just have small sips.
Should you have caffeine?
Everybody has their own preferences when it comes to caffeine, I personally get a big boost from it as a stimulant. But one thing to watch is the effect it might have on your digestive system, so test it in training when doing hard efforts first. I stick to non-caffeinated gels for the majority of the race before having one in the last 30 minutes of the bike leg just to give me a boost on the run.
- Practice your nutrition plan. As much as I love a coffee and cake training ride, it’s important to try your gels while training to make sure you have no GI issues, and to ensure you’re able to open and consume a gel whilst on the bike too.
- Don’t try something new on race day. That's a perfect recipe for GI issues! Only use the products you’ve tried and tested – for me this is the Rawvelo Gels and Hydration powder.