Angela's headline numbers
Carbohydrate is the main fuel you burn when racing. Failing to fuel properly is a leading cause of underperformance in longer races.
Angela’s race was a big success in many ways, from a 4th place finish and the fastest bike split, to her strong energy levels and carb intake. Even with a delayed race start due to a cancelled swim, she still managed to time her PF 30 Caffeine Gel for pre-fuelling perfectly ahead of the time trial bike start. The majority of her carb came from gels and chews, as she largely separated her fluid intake from her carb. This, along with her being used to a relatively high carb intake, led to her rating her gastrointestinal comfort for the race as a 10-out-of-10. While her carb dropped by ~25g/h from bike to run, this is similar to what we see in our other IRONMAN Case Studies and still facilitated an excellent average of ~89g/h overall.
Taking on board an appropriate amount of fluid and sodium is essential to maintaining blood volume and supporting the cardiovascular effort needed to perform on race day.
Whilst the absolute amount of sodium and fluid consumed per hour is important, it’s critical to consider these in relation to each other. This is known as 'relative sodium concentration' and it’s expressed in milligrams per litre (mg/L). How much sodium you’re taking in per litre of fluid is more important than the absolute amount taken in per hour.
Sweat sodium concentration (mg/L) is largely genetically determined and remains relatively stable. Knowing how salty your sweat is enables you to replace a good proportion of your sweat losses, which can range from 200-2,000mg/L.
Whilst Angela’s losses are on the moderate side, getting her hydration strategy right is still crucial when it’s hot and/or humid as her higher sweat rate in these conditions can result in significant net losses over the duration of a race.Learn more
In preparation for this race, Angela worked on increasing her fluid intake to ~1 litres per hour to reduce her body weight change percentage from ~4% to ~2% to proactively limit the accumulated dehydration that she’d likely experience in the Cozumel heat. She ended up grabbing three additional bottles of water on the bike, on top of the ~5L she planned to carry, leading to just under 1.5L/h on the bike. Since Angela’s Sweat Test showed her to be a moderately salty sweater she mixed PH 1000 in her carried fluid but also relied on salted gels, chews and capsules. By the time she got to the run, her relative sodium intake was under her target and she noticed a few twinges, though no full cramps. Carrying extra capsules on the run was key, as she paired them with aid station water to increase her sodium concentration to well above her known electrolyte losses.
Beyond the Three Levers of Performance (carb, sodium and fluid), caffeine is one of only a few substances that is proven to improve performance for most endurance athletes as it can help stave off mental and physical fatigue.
Angela’s caffeine intake relative to bodyweight put her above the general guidelines for performance improvement. However, she’s a regular coffee drinker (even had a cup on race morning) so her tolerance allowed this strategy to play out in her favour. Combined with the long duration of the race, ticking over the scientific recommendations is understandable and we wouldn’t adjust anything here.
How Angela hit her numbers
Here's everything that Angela ate and drank on the day...
Angela's weapons of choice
Angela's full stats
There is some confidence in the quantities and brands of products consumed but the data may lack specifics (e.g. volumes specific flavours). A high number of estimations have been made and the room for error is moderate-high. There may also be the possibility that some intake has been grossly over- or under-estimated.