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2014-02-16 5:03 PM

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Subject: nutrition for dummies
So my question is just how it sounds. I've ran a marathon and tons of other runs. Completed a bunch of sprints and I'm signed up for my first half in May. I have little to no experience with nutrition for long bikes/runs. When I was training for my marathon I kind of winged it and didn't know about nutrition. I know everyone is different but is there some generalization when it comes to long bike/run nutrition? Thanks as usual for your wisdom to a newbie.


2014-02-16 6:06 PM
in reply to: #4950374

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Subject: RE: nutrition for dummies
Certainly not an expert here, but what I took from all I've read here and elsewhere is that a good starting point for the bike is ~250-300 cals/hour, then I think about ~200 cals/hour on the run. Lots of people say don't start taking cals on the bike until about 20-30 mins in b/c your body is still adjusting to the change in position from the swim to the bike (i've always followed that rule). Play around with different calorie amounts and sources to see what works for you. Lots of good detailed threads on this stuff on these boards that I remember reading over the summer.
2014-02-16 6:21 PM
in reply to: SR2518

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Subject: RE: nutrition for dummies
Very simplified: 8 ounces of sport drink per hour + 1 gel/bar per hour. Make sure that what you are eating/drinking have the nutrients that your body needs (carbs, sodium, and potassium especially).

I usually drink sports drink right after the swim and eat the hardest to digest nutrition first (bars/banana) during the first few miles of the bike course. After that, I mostly take gels (easier to digest).
2014-02-16 7:45 PM
in reply to: SR2518

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Subject: RE: nutrition for dummies

Take a read through the Hammer nutrition guide.  Some good info between the marketing lines.

2014-02-17 7:29 AM
in reply to: davidfedez

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Subject: RE: nutrition for dummies
How much you need varies with body size, metabolism, and the weather conditions. I did my HIM with an energy bar and two gels on the bike, one more gel and a few pretzel sticks on the run, and was fine--no bonking and finished strong. I'm about 115 pounds so most people would need more than this. What works for me is a little bit at a time--once I start the bike I eat about every half hour (and do the same after one hour on long rides/bricks), but just a few bites of an energy bar, half a banana, or half a gel. I saw some people with as many as 6-8 gels taped to their bike, though (and guessing they were spending less time on the bike than me--I'm not a strong biker.)

Definitely work out your nutrition plan--how often and what you'll eat/drink well before the race, so there are no surprises. This is esp. true if you plan to "live off the course"--they may not have the flavors you like. Learned the hard way in my first attempt at HIM (shortened due to weather to a 50-km-ish bike and half marathon.) I somehow lost or forgot my gels for the run and ended up unable to get down anything on offer on the course until Mile 11. It got to where I was begging, "Do you have any apple cinnamon?" (The only Hammer flavor I can stand)! If you can only stand one or two flavors, carry them yourself, somewhere where they're not going to fall out. Lesson learned!

One thing I would suggest is taking a little more than what you need on the bike--maybe some different flavors/textures of gels, bars, fruit, whatever you like. Both as insurance in case you somehow drop some, and in case your body decides it doesn't want to cooperate with the plan. I've had a few races where for some reason the nutrition that usually worked fine just wouldn't go down or I got sick of the same flavor (chocolate overdose on the HIM, a 62-km bike leg last year where I gagged so much I could barely get down any nutrition and almost puked). I've heard this is even more of an issue at the full IM distance--there are probably only so many gu and bar products one could face in a day!
2014-02-17 3:26 PM
in reply to: SR2518

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Subject: RE: nutrition for dummies
I'll leave the more in-depth answers to the experts. But I will give you my experience. For a 70.3 I usually aim for 1 bike bottle of sports drink + 2 gels each hour on the bike. On the run it's more how I feel but usually 1-2 gels total plus a couple of swallows of sports drink at maybe every other aid station until I can't digest anymore. For shorter races I take in nothing (sprints) or a gel or two and some sports drink (Olys and HMs).

For training, I don't take in anything for sessions shorter than 1.5 hours. Past that it depends on intensity and environment. Best generalization would be one bottle sports drink per hour plus one gel per hour.


2014-02-17 4:00 PM
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Subject: RE: nutrition for dummies
Originally posted by SR2518

So my question is just how it sounds. I've ran a marathon and tons of other runs. Completed a bunch of sprints and I'm signed up for my first half in May. I have little to no experience with nutrition for long bikes/runs. When I was training for my marathon I kind of winged it and didn't know about nutrition. I know everyone is different but is there some generalization when it comes to long bike/run nutrition? Thanks as usual for your wisdom to a newbie.


Another way to look at it is counting down

When properly replenished, your body has about 2000 calories in storage
As you run/bike/swim you are depleting this storage. when you get low, you bonk

The number of calories you burn per hour depends a lot on your pace. At an easy pace running, let's say I am burning say 900 calories per hour

However those 900 calories are coming from two sources. From fat (which we have almost infinity of) and from that 2000 calorie storage.
At that slow pace about 1/2 of those calories are from fat, 1/2 from the 2000 calorie storage, so about 450 per hour from storage
At that pace, in theory, I could go for 4 hours or so. (2000 calories/450 cal/hour)

As you pick up the pace, the number of calories per hour picks increases, as does the percentage from my "storage"
At marathon pace, I am about 1100 cal per hour, 600 from my storage, so I can go for about 3h15 hours. (2000/600)

The amount of calories from fat vs from storage varies from person to person

One member posted his VO2 max testing results and he burns 100% of his calories from his storage. So chances are he would bonk if no nutrition on a HM.

Some people can go a full marathon on no nutrition because they are relying more on fat storage, which is infinite.

If you can figure out how much your shortage will be, you consume that many calories to meet the shortage : 1g of carbs = 4calories. If your shortage is 240 calories per hour, you need 60g of carbs per hour.

So how much nutrition you need, depends on
1) duration of the event
2) intensity you do it (which drives calories per hour and % of fat used)
3) how much your body relies on fat stores vs "storage" which you will hear referred to as glycogen stores

Taking on too many calories forces your body to digest them. Too much work digesting = throwing up
Too little calories results in your storage getting too low and bonking.

exact calories per hour, size of glycogen stores.....is up for discussion, but that's the high level explanation of how to figure it out


Edited by marcag 2014-02-17 4:03 PM
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