How to Fuel and Refuel Before and After a Triathlon

KIC IT Triathlon Stamford karen sutton

Tips and tricks for surviving a triathlon.

KIC IT Triathlon Stamford karen sutton

A triathlon, as defined by Wikipedia is a multiple-stage competition involving three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines (mostly swimming, cycling, and running for a specific distance). Why would someone put themselves through this torture you ask?

First off, you get bragging rights. It isn’t easy to swim, then bike, then run for miles, and most people spend exorbitant amounts of time training. Secondly, you get to commit to something and stick to it, which should be really great for your self esteem. Third, participating in a triathlon is great exercise, and an excellent way to pivot your life in a new direction (since the training can help you develop healthier overall habits in the long run).

READ MORE: Tips for Beginner Triathletes

I recently took part in the Navigators Stamford KIC IT Races in Connecticut. It was a .5 mile swim, 15.6 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run that took place on Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24, 2018.

The Navigators Stamford KIC IT Races raise money for Kids in Crisis, an organization that has helped more than 143,000 families struggling with abuse, neglect, homelessness and more. Overall it was a great event for a great cause, and I met a lot of new and interesting people.

The question everyone has asked me however, was how to prepare for a triathlon, and what to do after. Obviously, you should train, to get your endurance up. Luckily, my amazing coach Clare Zecher whipped me into shape! Other than that though, the most important thing to competing in a successful triathlon is what you eat!

If you think of your body as a machine, the one thing you really need to reach peak performance is fuel. So here are some tips on how to fuel and refuel both before and after a triathlon.

The night before a triathlon, consider the following rules:

Eat a low-fiber dinner early, around 5:30, but no later than 12 hours before the start of the race. Drink electrolytes. The carbs will help you retain glycogen for the race, and the low-fiber can help your digestive track stay cool during the event.

Avoid trying new things diet-wise, since you don’t know how your body will react.

Create a standard high-carb meal to eat before every race, so you know exactly what you are putting into your body.

Do not drink too much water. Make sure you are properly hydrated, but keep in mind that your body can’t really store excess water, so there’s no real point in binging on H2O.

The morning of the race, consider eating a high-protein meal like eggs.

After the race, foods high in antioxidants can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation, and another protein-rich meal directly after the race will help your body maintain amino acids.

Foods high in protein, such as red meat will help rebuild muscle, and ‘good carbs’ such as sweet potatoes will help keep up your potassium and iron.

Make sure you drink water or consume electrolytes to replenish your stores.

If you are thinking of participating in a triathlon, my suggestion is to do it! The physical and mental health benefits of races like this are undeniable. Just make sure you consult a doctor, train for the event, and don’t drink alcohol the night before!

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Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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