Jul 24, 2019

10 top tips for your Best Tri Yet!

10 top tips for your Best Tri Yet!

Ahead of the London Triathlon this weekend, Fresh Fitness Food have teamed up with Reece Barclay – FFF ambassador and triathlon coach to Ironman champion, Lucy Charles to put together ten top tips to giving it your best TRI. From pre-race nerves, to protein intake Reece and FFF's nutritionist Robin Swinkels explore everything you should know before race day, and how best to prep.

1. Let’s start with the fuel – food. Carb loading has become a common feature in the few days leading up to a triathlon. The stored carbohydrate in your muscles is the main fuel your body uses on higher intensity exercise. Due to our capacity to store being limited, any sessions lasting over 90-120 mins can benefit from a higher intake a few days before to increase this storing capacity. Note, some triathletes opt for abandoning protein in these later stages but try to avoid this. Your body requires protein every day to function, especially when you train your needs are increased, so be sure to keep it as a component in your diet right up to race day. Even if you’re taking it easy in the days leading up to the race, recovery and adaptation happen after training, at rest, so this is when you need the building blocks that protein provides to make sure you’ll be in the best shape for the race. As a guide, aim for 1.5g protein per kg of body weight per day.

2. Get some social training sessions in the week before. Remember, these should be easy, simply there to keep the body ticking over, rather than causing any stress. Teaming up with friends taking on the same, or similar challenge can be useful here, as it ensures the sessions stay relaxed and chatty with no temptation to ramp it up. Reece said: “Teaming up with a group of like-minded people helps to make sessions fun and keep your motivation levels high.”

3. Get your bike serviced! The last thing you want is your bike giving up halfway through your stint. Reece added “Make good friends with your local bike shop, or retailer. Understanding your equipment is vital to a successful race.” If you’re not yet familiar with changing a tyre, it may be worth checking a Youtube video or asking you new found friends. Whilst it’s likely in smaller races someone will be around to help, it’s not worth risking being unable to finish by not knowing.

4. Kit… lay it out early two or three days before, so you’re not leaving anything last minute. Ensure you have everything you need, and make sure nothing has gone astray. Also, don’t go trialling anything new at this late stage. Stick to what you know, and let the training and practice speak for itself.

5. Food while you run n’ ride (eating while you swim… Not advised!) Again, always go for things you’ve previously tested. Everyone is different, but as a rough idea, stick to foods that will provide you with fast release energy. Some choose homemade flapjacks, others opt for gels. During your run/ride you’ll want a quick source of carbohydrates that gets into your bloodstream to your working muscles without too much hassle (digestion) quickly. Robin Swinkels, Fresh Fitness Food nutritionist said: “This is one of the very few cases in which I would actually recommend processed sugary foods, for example jelly babies, sugar gels, sports drinks or energy bars. If you prefer to have something that adds some nutritional value go for dried fruits such as mango or dates.” Be careful to test this beforehand as too much fibre can cause discomfort during running. Craving something savoury? Try some pretzels! Besides hosting a whopping 80g carbohydrate per 100g, they also provide electrolytes making them especially useful for those of us who sweat a lot. Whatever it is, make sure you’ve tried and tested these in the run-up. No one wants to risk a bad stomach!

6. Take a trip to the open water! This tends to be the scariest spot for newbies, so why not head for a paddle whilst the week is a little quieter. The water and gentle movement will do your muscles good, and the more time you spend in it the more comfortable you’ll become. Reece says “For most people, this is the toughest bit as it is coupled with the standard pre-race nerves, so being comfortable in this environment is important to delivering a good performance.”

7. Be clued up on your morning, i.e what time you need to arrive, the journey there (with your bike) and checking the weather forecast in case extra kit is required. Read the race instructions, and be sure you set a few alarms to ensure a stress-free morning. We’d suggest arriving around 90 minutes before the race starts.

8. Breakfast should not be something you’ve never tried. Polish off a bowl of the stuff you’ve been consuming in the run-up, before the long runs, rides and swims. Try to take it on between 2 and 3 hours before race time to ensure optimal digestion. If you’re still a little unsure of what to eat, here are some top picks from FFF nutritionist, Robin;
Oats with banana, apple and raisins
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Sweet or savoury pancakes
Some yoghurt with granola and high sugar fruits such as pineapple and mango
Toast with butter, cucumber and marmite (this helps to load up on some electrolytes too)
It might be tempting to get as many carbs in while you can, but be careful not to overdo it on quantity. As you are getting close to the race you want to ensure your food will be digested for when you come to start so stick to a normal portion size.

9. I know we said don’t try anything new, but there are two bits of kit we would suggest picking up pre-race. The first is something bright to stick to your helmet or bike to help you find it during the transition from swim to bike. It can be tricky with so many stacked up, so make life easy. The second is a race number belt, to save the safety pin faff. Attach your number and wear it backwards for the bike leg, then spin it round and switch it to forwards for the run leg.

10. Refuel!
This is key, so if you know you’re going somewhere with not great access to food, pack something simple for after. A homemade shake or sandwich is a great option. Finishing up with one last tip from Robin: “Your body is going to be stressed and will need rest and nutrients to recover. After lots of quick sugars try to include some complex carbohydrates, for example some homemade whole-grain pasta salad or a wrap. I’d suggest filling this with grilled asparagus, courgette and red pepper, and top it with smoked chicken or tuna and avocado. Easy to prep and take with you to the event, plus both are full of nutrients to aid recovery.”

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