IM 70.3 Fortaleza
Ellie'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.
Ellie coped well on a bike course that was littered with pot-holes and bumps, which very quickly ejected two of her three bottles. Thankfully the ‘fuel bottle’ between her arms remained onboard, and she was able to drink the water with two Gels and four scoops of Carb & Electrolyte Drink Mix mixed in it. As Ellie described, her closest competition was some way behind her when she hopped off the bike, so she didn’t have to fully extend herself to take victory. Despite this, she checked an important box from a confidence perspective by hitting a similar carb intake to her previous middle-distance races, despite the scorching temperatures which often leads to a reduced tolerance for carbohydrates.
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 Ellie’s losses are on the low 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
Ellie discussed the expected weather conditions of Brazil extensively with the Sports Science team at PF&H to optimise her strategy and ensure she performed well in the heat. Happily, temperatures weren’t as aggressively hot during the first half of the race due to some thick cloud cover, which was probably a blessing as two hydration bottles containing water and PH 1000 were ejected from her bike within ~5 km. She did well to pick up a couple of bottles of the on-course electrolyte drink, but once the clouds burned off and temperatures sky-rocketed to ~36℃, Ellie knew her sweat rate would be elevated so headed onto the run with an enhanced hydration plan. This involved tipping plenty of water over herself throughout the course, and slowing at each aid station to pick up at least three cups of water every time. This meant the relative sodium concentration of her drinks fell well below her pre-race plan, but as her sweat sodium concentration is quite low, she didn’t feel this affected her negatively. Perhaps taking a couple of Electrolyte Capsules with her on the bike and run could help in emergency situations like this, especially if she were having to dig deep and race hard.
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.
Although Ellie’s caffeine consumption was slightly above the general recommended guidelines above, she’s a frequent coffee drinker and has a high tolerance for caffeine, so we wouldn’t recommend changing this. The timing of her caffeine was also well executed, taking one pre-race, two during the bike then a final hit at ~5 km on the run will have ensured she had adequately high blood caffeine levels throughout the race.
How Ellie hit her numbers
Here's everything that Ellie ate and drank on the day...
Ellie's weapons of choice
Ellie's full stats
There is an adequate level of accuracy in the data collected and the numbers reported. The athlete manages to recall what they ate and drank including most specifics (brands flavours quantities plausible estimations of volumes). However there are estimations made within the data which affect the overall confidence level in the data reported.