Finding your optimal race weight and getting to that stage is a very personal balancing act that all triathletes should take time to focus on. For many, it’s a case of reducing body weight so that we’re able to exercise comfortably and boost performance. But the closer you get to your A-race, it becomes even more crucial to dial into your racing weight.
Every athlete will have their own ideal race weight, which may differ slightly depending on the race distances they’re focusing on. Longer-distance athletes, for example, may feel that carrying a few extra pounds provides them with the necessary calories for 10hr+ races, while short-course triathletes will want to reduce body fat as much as possible. Getting to race weight will be a case of trial and error; only through experiencing how you perform at a certain weight will it give you the knowledge to know what your golden figure is. So you need to monitor your weight throughout the eight weeks and make notes on your performance.
My biggest piece of advice, though, is to take your time getting down to race weight. If you suddenly lose a lot of weight you may find that you feel weaker, more prone to illness and less likely to be able to sustain a sensible weight. Also, if you find it difficult to hold your race weight then you should select key race dates where you really want to meet it, but in the ‘off’ weeks don’t be too hard on yourself if you gain a couple of pounds.
Luckily for triathletes, many day-to-day sessions are ideal for finding your optimal race weight. The longer and steadier sessions at low-moderate intensities are largely aerobic and benefit the body by improving its ability to burn fat (1g of fat provides 9cals of energy), which’ll help with long-term weight control. In order to burn high calories during shorter sessions, focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which also serve as great fitness boost and race simulation as they’re anaerobic in nature.
While this eight-week plan is a great start to fine-tuning your race weight, remember that whatever fuels you put into your body are going to have a major impact on your ability to achieve race weight. If you eat well you will perform well, if you eat badly then, well, you know the rest…
Dermott’s top 4 tips
Especially with the lower-intensity workouts, as it takes time for these to really change performance. They must be done easily to really tap into that fat-burning potential.
MONITOR WEIGHT LOSS
Keep a record of your weight on a weekly basis and make notes on your performances. Watch out for feeling low on energy if you’ve lost significant weight.
KEEP FUEL TO A MINIMUM
During fat-burning sessions you don’t need extra calories from gels. Rely on water or an electrolyte fluid, as our fat stores will get us through 3-4hrs of low-intensity training.
Take refuelling seriously and have protein-based products ready for your post-workout meal. Aim to eat within 30mins of training, even if it’s a supplement to last until meal time