Ironman nutrition: what to carry on the bike
Wondering how much fuel to carry on the bike and whether to have all your nutritional needs packed up, or rely on some stops at aid stations? Simon Ward offers some advice...
How much fuel to carry on the bike and how much to depend on aid stations are questions many Ironman athletes spend time pondering. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Think about how you like to have your fuel and what works for you when it comes to carrying it. You also need to factor in what the race organisers offer. For the ideal nutrition strategy, work out the answers to the following questions:
Will there be a special needs at or near the halfway point on the bike, and do you plan to use it?
How do you prefer to consume your calories: solids such as bars and real food, or liquid such as drinks and gels?
How are you going to carry your calories? A box, pockets, flask, water bottles?
How many grams of carbs can you consume per hour? (most nutritionists recommend 60-90g)
How long will you be riding for? (multiply the duration of your race by 60 if that’s your target amount of carbohydrate per hour, and that will give you your total)
My preference is to have two water bottles, one with a highly concentrated mix with 160g of carbs that I sip throughout the race, and another containing only water, which is replaced at every aid station. I’ll also have four gels decanted into a small flask stored in a holster on my top tube (80g), plus two more gels (40g) and two energy bars (80g) in my jersey pockets.
This means I’m entirely self-sufficient, and don’t need to do any more than slow down at feed stations to grab a new bottle. It’s taken me years to perfect and it works for me, but everyone is different.
Before the race you should settle on your strategy, try it in practice and then hone it for race day. Stick with this plan and avoid the temptation to change it the day before, despite the hundreds of alternative strategies you’re bound to hear about – and have a great race!