Fuelling and hydration are often referred to as the “4th discipline” of triathlon because getting this aspect of your race right is crucial if you want to perform at your best.

Here's some advice to help you nail your strategy on race day, including a guide to what'll be available at the feed stations on course...

Starter Tri / Super Sprint

For shorter triathlons, your main aim should be to get to the start line optimally fueled and hydrated because it's likely that you’ll be racing on stored energy and dehydration is rarely an issue in an event of this length.

Because of this, your plan should major on what you'll do in the build-up to the race, but we've provided some advice about what you might drink and eat during the race, should you feel the need to.

Before the race

Fuel

What to do

  • Aim to carb load in the day or two before your event, to top off your stored energy (glycogen) levels
  • Eat an energy gel in the final 15 mins or so before you start. This'll provide additional fuel to be utilised in the early stages and increase your focus and energy levels

Why?

  • Carb-loading is a well-known tactic used by endurance athletes
  • Think of your glycogen stores as the fuel you have in the tank before a long journey. The more you start with, the longer you can keep going before you need to top-up
  • Simple carbs taken in the last 15 mins will hit your bloodstream around the start of the race, increasing energy availability just as energy use is ramping up in your body

Hydration

What to do

  • Consider drinking a strong electrolyte drink (like PH 1500) about ~90 mins before your swim start
  • This is known as ‘preloading’ and it can significantly improve your performance
  • Finish your drink ~45 mins before you start to allow your gut to absorb it
  • Drink the electrolytes in water you’d have drunk anyway so you don’t overdo it
  • DON’T just drink lots of water before a race! You can end up diluting your blood sodium levels, increasing the risk of a race-ruining condition called hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels)

Why?

  • It’ll boost your blood volume, a proven way to enhance performance during intense exercise, especially in the heat
  • It’ll help your cardiovascular system cool you down and deliver oxygen to your working muscles. This reduces fatigue and enables you to maintain your performance for longer
  • PH 1500 electrolyte drink is a very effective preloader as it contains 3x more sodium than typical sports drinks
  • Preloading may also help you avoid cramp, which can be triggered by sodium depletion

During the race

Fuel

Given the relatively short duration of your race, and assuming you have carb loaded sufficiently, you should have enough stored energy (glycogen) to get you round without consuming much, if anything, during the race.

You might consider carrying a single energy gel (like PF 30 Gel) on the bike to increase energy availability in the second half of the race if you feel you can do so without any GI upset.

Pro tip: If carrying your own gel, fasten it to the top tube or stem of your bike with a small tab of duct-tape at either end so you can grab it easily during the ride or take it with you on the run if you didn’t eat it during the ride.

Hydration

Whilst you’re highly likely to be able to complete the whole race without becoming significantly dehydrated even if you drink nothing at all, it's generally a good idea to have a bottle of water (or perhaps or a light carbohydrate drink such as our PF 30 Energy Drink Mix) available on your bike, especially if you’re racing in hot conditions.

Having some fluids available on your bike will enable you to have a quick drink in T2 before you start the run.

Checklist for adjusting your intake

Signs you may need to drink more include:

  • Feeling thirsty/dry mouth
  • Heart rate drifting upwards when compared to power output or effort
  • Tight, twitchy or crampy muscles

Signs you may need to drink less include:

  • Feeling bloated
  • Feeling water ‘sloshing’ in your stomach
  • Peeing too frequently

Signs you may need to increase your energy intake include:

  • Hunger
  • Attitude or mood deteriorating
  • Craving sugar

Signs you may need to decrease your energy intake include:

  • Feeling/being sick
  • Bloating
  • Upset stomach

Want to carry some fuel and electrolytes?

Grab a Castle Race Series Taster Pack. Don't forget to use the 15% off code you can find in emails from Castle Race Series.

Questions?

Book a free one-to-one video call with one of our fuelling experts or email hello@pfandh.com.

Sprint / Sprint Plus

For shorter triathlons, your main aim should be to get to the start line optimally fueled and hydrated because it's likely that you’ll be racing on stored energy and dehydration is rarely an issue in an event of this length.

Because of this, your plan should major on what you'll do in the build-up to the race, but we've provided some advice about what you might drink and eat during the race, should you feel the need to.

Before the race

Fuel

What to do

  • Aim to carb load in the day or two before your event, to top off your stored energy (glycogen) levels
  • Eat an energy gel in the final 15 mins or so before you start. This'll provide additional fuel to be utilised in the early stages and increase your focus and energy levels

Why?

  • Carb-loading is a well-known tactic used by endurance athletes
  • Think of your glycogen stores as the fuel you have in the tank before a long journey. The more you start with, the longer you can keep going before you need to top-up
  • Simple carbs taken in the last 15 mins will hit your bloodstream around the start of the race, increasing energy availability just as energy use is ramping up in your body

Hydration

What to do

  • Consider drinking a strong electrolyte drink (like PH 1500 about ~90 mins before your swim start
  • This is known as ‘preloading’ and it can significantly improve your performance
  • Finish your drink ~45 mins before you start to allow your gut to absorb it
  • Drink the electrolytes in water you’d have drunk anyway so you don’t overdo it
  • DON’T just drink lots of water before a race! You can end up diluting your blood sodium levels, increasing the risk of a race-ruining condition called hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels)

Why?

  • It’ll boost your blood volume, a proven way to enhance performance during intense exercise, especially in the heat
  • It’ll help your cardiovascular system cool you down and deliver oxygen to your working muscles. This reduces fatigue and enables you to maintain your performance for longer
  • PH 1500) electrolyte drink is a very effective preloader as it contains 3x more sodium than typical sports drinks
  • Preloading may also help you avoid cramp, which can be triggered by sodium depletion

During the race

Fuel

Given the relatively short duration of your race, and assuming you have carb loaded sufficiently, you should have enough stored energy (glycogen) to get you round without consuming much, if anything, during the race.

You might consider carrying a single energy gel (like our PF 30 Gel) on the bike to increase energy availability in the second half of the race if you feel you can do so without any GI upset.

Pro tip: If carrying your own gel, fasten it to the top tube or stem of your bike with a small tab of duct-tape at either end so you can grab it easily during the ride or take it with you on the run if you didn’t eat it during the ride.

Hydration

Whilst you’re highly likely to be able to complete the whole race without becoming significantly dehydrated even if you drink nothing at all, it's generally a good idea to have a bottle of water (or perhaps or a light carbohydrate drink such as our PF 30 Energy Drink Mix) available on your bike, especially if you’re racing in hot conditions.

Having some fluids available on your bike will enable you to have a quick drink in T2 before you start the run.

Checklist for adjusting your intake

Signs you may need to drink more include:

  • Feeling thirsty/dry mouth
  • Heart rate drifting upwards when compared to power output or effort
  • Tight, twitchy or crampy muscles

Signs you may need to drink less include:

  • Feeling bloated
  • Feeling water ‘sloshing’ in your stomach
  • Peeing too frequently

Signs you may need to increase your energy intake include:

  • Hunger
  • Attitude or mood deteriorating
  • Craving sugar

Signs you may need to decrease your energy intake include:

  • Feeling/being sick
  • Bloating
  • Upset stomach

Want to carry some fuel and electrolytes?

Grab a Castle Race Series Taster Pack. Don't forget to use the 15% off code you can find in emails from Castle Race Series.

Questions?

Book a free one-to-one video call with one of our fuelling experts or email hello@pfandh.com.

Standard / Olympic Tri

Your plan should focus on ensuring that you take in enough carbohydrate, fluid and sodium to fuel the work required and keep you hydrated.

These are the 3 key elements of a solid fueling plan, everything else should be considered secondary to understanding and hitting these numbers.

Before the race

Fuel

What to do

  • Aim to carb load in the day or two before your event, to top off your stored energy (glycogen) levels
  • Eat an energy gel in the final 15 mins or so before you start. This'll provide additional fuel to be utilised in the early stages and increase your focus and energy levels

Why?

  • Carb-loading is a well-known tactic used by endurance athletes
  • Think of your glycogen stores as the fuel you have in the tank before a long journey. The more you start with, the longer you can keep going before you need to top-up
  • Simple carbs taken in the last 15 mins will hit your bloodstream around the start of the race, increasing energy availability just as energy use is ramping up in your body

Hydration

What to do

  • Your race pack will include a packet of our strongest electrolyte drink, PH 1500
  • Mix it into 500ml of water and aim to drink it about ~60-90 mins before your swim start
  • This is known as ‘preloading’ and it can significantly improve your performance
  • Finish your drink ~45 mins before you start to allow your gut to absorb it
  • Drink the electrolytes in water you’d have drunk anyway so you don’t overdo it
  • DON’T just drink lots of water before a race! You can end up diluting your blood sodium levels, increasing the risk of a race-ruining condition called hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels)

Why?

  • It’ll boost your blood volume, a proven way to enhance performance during intense exercise, especially in the heat
  • It’ll help your cardiovascular system cool you down and deliver oxygen to your working muscles. This reduces fatigue and enables you to maintain your performance for longer
  • PH 1500 electrolyte drink is a very effective preloader as it contains 3x more sodium than typical sports drinks
  • Preloading may also help you avoid cramp, which can be triggered by sodium depletion

During the race

The bike section offers a great opportunity to fuel and hydrate proactively in order to set up a strong run as most athletes find it easier to eat and drink on the bike than when they’re running.

For this reason it's common, and considered good practice, to ‘front load’ the ride with a higher hydration and energy intake than you aim for on the run.

Fuel

What fuel is available at the feed stations?

  • PF 30 Energy Gels. Each gel contains 30g of carbohydrate
  • PF 30 Energy Chews, a mixture of Original and Mint & Lemon flavours. Each packet contains 30g of carbohydrate, delivered as 2 x 15g chews
  • A selection of food and drink such as bananas (cut into thirds, about 9g of carb per third), flat coca-cola (about 10g of carb per 100ml) and jelly babies (or similar, about 5g of carb per sweet)

What to do

  • Use our Quick Carb Calculator to get an idea of how much carbohydrate you'll need per hour to perform at your best
  • Some athletes racing a standard distance triathlon will benefit from higher intakes of 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, as long as the amount consumed doesn’t cause stomach problems
  • The higher the amount of carbohydrate you’re aiming to ingest, the more crucial ‘training your gut’ in the lead up to your race becomes
  • An hourly intake of ~60-90 grams per hour is not something all athletes can achieve immediately and it can take a bit of time to build up to this rate of consumption, especially if you’ve been prone to suffering from GI issues in the past

Why

  • When it comes to powering high intensity endurance exercise, carbohydrate is the main source of fuel used by your body
  • Glycogen (stored carbohydrate) is a finite resource. 90-120 minutes of hard activity will generally deplete your stores enough to significantly compromise your performance. So, at some point, taking in carbs is necessary to maintain a high level of performance

Pro tips

  • Time your intake of fuel on the bike to coincide with straight stretches of road or on a gentle downhill. This makes it easier to eat comfortably
  • If you prefer liquid calories on the bike, consider using PF 30 Energy Drink Mix in your bike bottles. It contains 30g of carb per 500ml serving, so can provide some or all of your carb requirements, depending on the total amount that you drink
  • Try to eat your gels/chews early on in the run, as they'll take around 15 mins to be absorbed and for the energy to become available to your muscles. Eating them too near to the finish will limit the benefits you actually get from the product before crossing the finish line
  • Carry your own fuel on the run if possible. Gels/chews weigh very little and this approach allows you to use some you’ve properly tested in training. It also means you won’t accidentally miss picking one at a busy feed station and can eat them whenever you like

Hydration

What hydration products are available at the feed stations?

  • PH 1000, a low-carb electrolyte drink containing ~2x the sodium found in typical sports drinks
  • Water

What to do

  • Few athletes can get away with not drinking at all during an Olympic distance triathlon. The risk of performance-limiting dehydration is just too great
  • Most athletes can comfortably drink 500-750ml during the ride. This is typically enough to set you up for a good run
  • Take drinks from feed stations on the run if you feel thirsty, but don’t force yourself to drink a set amount as this is unlikely to benefit your performance
  • Experimenting within these guidelines, whilst learning to listen to your body, is the best way to work out how much you need to drink during a race
  • On the day, factors such as your pace and the weather will influence what you actually need and you should adjust your intake according to how you feel as the race unfolds

Why

  • Taking on board an appropriate amount of fluid and electrolytes is essential to maintaining your blood volume and supporting the cardiovascular effort you’ll be putting in
  • Hydration is, of course, particularly important during hotter events, when body temperature regulation is an issue and your sweat losses can really mount up.

Pro tips

  • Squeeze aid station cups across the top to form a slit to pour water out of. This’ll reduce the amount that gets spilled and the amount of air you swallow
  • Pre-mix and carry (at least some of) your own fluids on the bike if possible. This approach allows you to use drinks you’ve properly tested in training and gives you more control

Checklist for adjusting your intake

Signs you may need to drink more include:

  • Feeling thirsty/dry mouth
  • Heart rate drifting upwards when compared to power output or effort
  • Tight, twitchy or crampy muscles

Signs you may need to drink less include:

  • Feeling bloated
  • Feeling water ‘sloshing’ in your stomach
  • Peeing too frequently

Signs you may need to increase your energy intake include:

  • Hunger
  • Attitude or mood deteriorating
  • Craving sugar

Signs you may need to decrease your energy intake include:

  • Feeling/being sick
  • Bloating
  • Upset stomach

Try the on-course fuel/hydration in training

"Nothing new on race day" has always been solid advice.

Grab a Castle Race Series Taster Pack to thoroughly road-test the on-course fuel and hydration before your race.

Don't forget to use the 15% off code you can find in emails from Castle Race Series.

Questions?

Book a free one-to-one video call with one of our fuelling experts or email hello@pfandh.com.

The Gauntlet

Failing to fuel and hydrate appropriately is a leading cause of underperformance in long distance triathlons.

Your plan should focus on ensuring that you take in enough carbohydrate, fluid and sodium to fuel the work required and keep you hydrated.

These are the 3 key elements of a solid fueling plan, everything else should be considered secondary to understanding and hitting these numbers.

Before the race

Fuel

What to do

  • Aim to carb load in the day or two before your event, to top off your stored energy (glycogen) levels
  • Eat an energy gel in the final 15 mins or so before you start. This'll provide additional fuel to be utilised in the early stages and increase your focus and energy levels

Why?

  • Carb-loading is a well-known tactic used by endurance athletes
  • Think of your glycogen stores as the fuel you have in the tank before a long journey. To point, the more you start with, the longer you can keep going before you need to top-up
  • Simple carbs taken in the last 15 mins will hit your bloodstream around the start of the race, increasing energy availability just as energy use is ramping up in your body

Hydration

What to do

  • Your race pack will include a packet of our strongest electrolyte drink, PH 1500
  • Mix it into 500ml of water and aim to drink it about ~60-90 mins before your swim start
  • This is known as ‘preloading’ and it can significantly improve your performance
  • Finish your drink ~45 mins before you start to allow your gut to absorb it
  • Drink the electrolytes in water you’d have drunk anyway so you don’t overdo it
  • DON’T just drink lots of water before a race! You can end up diluting your blood sodium levels, increasing the risk of a race-ruining condition called hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels)

Why?

  • It’ll boost your blood volume, a proven way to enhance performance during intense exercise, especially in the heat
  • It’ll help your cardiovascular system cool you down and deliver oxygen to your working muscles. This reduces fatigue and enables you to maintain your performance for longer
  • PH 1500 electrolyte drink is a very effective preloader as it contains 3x more sodium than typical sports drinks
  • Preloading may also help you avoid cramp, which can be triggered by sodium depletion

During the race

The bike section offers a great opportunity to fuel and hydrate proactively in order to set up a strong run as most athletes find it easier to eat and drink on the bike than when they’re running.

For this reason it's common, and considered good practice, to ‘front load’ the ride with a higher hydration and energy intake than you aim for on the run.

Fuel

What fuel is available at the feed stations?

  • PF 30 Energy Gels. Each gel contains 30g of carbohydrate
  • PF 30 Energy Chews, a mixture of Original and Mint & Lemon flavours. Each packet contains 30g of carbohydrate, delivered as 2 x 15g chews
  • A selection of food and drink such as bananas (cut into thirds, about 9g of carb per third), flat coca-cola (about 10g of carb per 100ml) and jelly babies (or similar, about 5g of carb per sweet)

What to do

  • Use our Quick Carb Calculator to get an idea of how much carbohydrate you'll need per hour to perform at your best
  • Many athletes racing The Gauntlet will benefit from higher intakes of 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, perhaps even more than 90g, as long as the amount consumed doesn’t cause stomach problems
  • The higher the amount of carbohydrate you’re aiming to ingest, the more crucial ‘training your gut’ in the lead up to your race becomes
  • An hourly intake of ~60-90+ grams per hour is not something all athletes can achieve immediately and it can take a bit of time to build up to this rate of consumption, especially if you’ve been prone to suffering from GI issues in the past

Why

  • When it comes to powering high intensity endurance exercise, carbohydrate is the main source of fuel used by your body
  • Glycogen (stored carbohydrate) is a finite resource. 90-120 minutes of hard activity will generally deplete your stores enough to significantly compromise your performance. So, at some point, taking in carbs is necessary to maintain a high level of performance

Pro tips

  • Time your intake of fuel on the bike to coincide with straight stretches of road or on a gentle downhill. This makes it easier to eat comfortably
  • If you prefer liquid calories on the bike, consider using PF 30 Energy Drink Mix in your bike bottles. It contains 30g of carb and 500mg of sodium per 500ml serving, so can provide some or all of your carb requirements, depending on the total amount that you drink
  • Carry your own fuel on the run if possible. Gels/chews weigh very little and this approach allows you to use some you’ve properly tested in training. It also means you won’t accidentally miss picking one at a busy feed station and can eat them whenever you like
  • Generally speaking, the more energy you can consume in the early stages of the run, the stronger you’ll be able to finish, so don’t restrict your carb intake if you’re tolerating it well

Hydration

What hydration products are available at the feed stations?

  • PH 1000, a low-carb electrolyte drink containing 1,000mg of sodium per litre (~2x the sodium found in typical sports drinks)
  • Water

What to do

  • A middle distance race is too long to go without drinking, so you’re going to need to be knocking back a reasonable amount of fluids and electrolytes during the ride/run
  • The aim is to try to avoid under-drinking to the point that dehydration hampers your performance, whilst avoiding over-drinking, which can lead to hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels)
  • Your fluid/electrolyte intake on the bike needs to be adequate enough to set up a good run, not just to survive the ride!
  • Most athletes will need to take in between 500ml and 1L per hour during The Gauntlet. The exact amount depends on the conditions, your own sweat rate and past experiences
  • Most athletes find they can take in less fluid per hour on the run than they can on the bike, which should give you an idea of the kind of volumes you might be able to tolerate
  • Experimenting within these guidelines, whilst learning to listen to your body, is the best way to work out how much you need to drink during a race
  • On the day, factors such as your pace and the weather will influence what you actually need and you should adjust your intake according to how you feel as the race unfolds

Why

  • Taking on board an appropriate amount of fluid and electrolytes is essential to maintaining your blood volume and supporting the cardiovascular effort you’ll be putting in
  • A 2015 study found that athletes who adequately replaced the sodium lost in their sweat finished a middle distance triathlon an average of 26 minutes faster than those who didn’t
  • As well as maintaining fluid balance, sodium plays an important role in the absorption of nutrients in the gut, maintaining cognitive function, nerve impulse transmission and in muscle contraction
  • Hydration is, of course, particularly important during longer events, when your net sweat losses can really mount up. That's especially the case if it'll be hot on the day

Pro tips

  • Drinking from cups at feed stations can make it tricky to work out exactly how much fluid you’re consuming. As a rough guide, half a standard paper cup will give you ~100ml of water
  • Squeeze aid station cups across the top to form a slit to pour water out of. This’ll reduce the amount that gets spilled
  • It’s often faster overall to walk a few paces through feed stations to ensure you get enough fluids on board, rather than trying to drink from cups whilst running at full speed
  • Consider carrying some blister-packed Electrolyte Capsules in case you run out of sports drink during the latter stages of the bike or run. Swallowing 2 capsules per 500ml of water you consume would deliver the same ratio of electrolytes to fluid as a bottle of PH 1000 from the feed stations

Checklist for adjusting your intake

Signs you may need to drink more include:

  • Feeling thirsty/dry mouth
  • Heart rate drifting upwards when compared to power output or effort
  • Tight, twitchy or crampy muscles

Signs you may need to drink less include:

  • Feeling bloated
  • Feeling water ‘sloshing’ in your stomach
  • Peeing too frequently

Signs you may need to increase your energy intake include:

  • Hunger
  • Attitude or mood deteriorating
  • Craving sugar

Signs you may need to decrease your energy intake include:

  • Feeling/being sick
  • Bloating
  • Upset stomach

Try the on-course fuel/hydration in training

"Nothing new on race day" has always been solid advice.

Grab a Castle Race Series Taster Pack to thoroughly road-test the on-course fuel and hydration before your race.

Don't forget to use the 15% off code you can find in emails from Castle Race Series.

Questions?

Book a free one-to-one video call with one of our fuelling experts or email hello@pfandh.com.

The Bastion

Failing to fuel and hydrate appropriately is a leading cause of underperformance in long distance triathlons.

Your plan should focus on ensuring that you take in enough carbohydrate, fluid and sodium to fuel the work required and keep you hydrated.

These are the 3 key elements of a solid fueling plan, everything else should be considered secondary to understanding and hitting these numbers.

Before the race

Fuel

What to do

  • Aim to carb load in the day or two before your event, to top off your stored energy (glycogen) levels
  • Eat an energy gel in the final 15 mins or so before you start. This'll provide additional fuel to be utilised in the early stages and increase your focus and energy levels

Why?

  • Carb-loading is a well-known tactic used by endurance athletes
  • Think of your glycogen stores as the fuel you have in the tank before a long journey. The more you start with, the longer you can keep going before you need to top-up
  • Simple carbs taken in the last 15 mins will hit your bloodstream around the start of the race, increasing energy availability just as energy use is ramping up in your body

Hydration

What to do

  • Your race pack will include a packet of our strongest electrolyte drink, PH 1500
  • Mix it into 500ml of water and aim to drink it about ~60-90 mins before your swim start
  • This is known as ‘preloading’ and it can significantly improve your performance
  • Finish your drink ~45 mins before you start to allow your gut to absorb it
  • Drink the electrolytes in water you’d have drunk anyway so you don’t overdo it
  • DON’T just drink lots of water before a race! You can end up diluting your blood sodium levels, increasing the risk of a race-ruining condition called hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels)

Why?

  • It’ll boost your blood volume, a proven way to enhance performance during intense exercise, especially in the heat
  • It’ll help your cardiovascular system cool you down and deliver oxygen to your working muscles. This reduces fatigue and enables you to maintain your performance for longer
  • PH 1500 electrolyte drink is a very effective preloader as it contains 3x more sodium than typical sports drinks
  • Preloading may also help you avoid cramp, which can be triggered by sodium depletion

During the race

The bike section offers a great opportunity to fuel and hydrate proactively in order to set up a strong run as most athletes find it easier to eat and drink on the bike than when they’re running.

For this reason it's common, and considered good practice, to ‘front load’ the ride with a higher hydration and energy intake than you aim for on the run.

Fuel

What fuel is available at the feed stations?

  • PF 30 Energy Gels. Each gel contains 30g of carbohydrate
  • PF 30 Energy Chews, a mixture of Original and Mint & Lemon flavours. Each packet contains 30g of carbohydrate, delivered as 2 x 15g chews
  • A selection of food and drink such as bananas (cut into thirds, about 9g of carb per third), flat coca-cola (about 10g of carb per 100ml) and jelly babies (or similar, about 5g of carb per sweet)

What to do

  • Use our Quick Carb Calculator to get an idea of how much carbohydrate you'll need per hour to perform at your best
  • Many athletes racing The Bastion will benefit from higher intakes of 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, perhaps even more than 90g, as long as the amount consumed doesn’t cause stomach problems
  • The higher the amount of carbohydrate you’re aiming to ingest, the more crucial ‘training your gut’ in the lead up to your race becomes
  • An hourly intake of ~60-90+ grams per hour is not something all athletes can achieve immediately and it can take a bit of time to build up to this rate of consumption, especially if you’ve been prone to suffering from GI issues in the past

Why

  • When it comes to powering high intensity endurance exercise, carbohydrate is the main source of fuel used by your body
  • Glycogen (stored carbohydrate) is a finite resource. 90-120 minutes of hard activity will generally deplete your stores enough to significantly compromise your performance. So, at some point, taking in carbs is necessary to maintain a high level of performance

Pro tips

  • Time your intake of fuel on the bike to coincide with straight stretches of road or on a gentle downhill. This makes it easier to eat comfortably
  • If you prefer liquid calories on the bike, consider using PF 30 Energy Drink Mix in your bike bottles. It contains 30g of carb and 500mg of sodium per 500ml serving, so can provide some or all of your carb requirements, depending on the total amount that you drink
  • Carry your own fuel on the run if possible. Gels/chews weigh very little and this approach allows you to use some you’ve properly tested in training. It also means you won’t accidentally miss picking one at a busy feed station and can eat them whenever you like
  • Generally speaking, the more energy you can consume in the early stages of the run, the stronger you’ll be able to finish, so don’t restrict your carb intake if you’re tolerating it well

Hydration

What hydration products are available at the feed stations?

  • PH 1000, a low-carb electrolyte drink containing 1,000mg of sodium per litre (~2x the sodium found in typical sports drinks)
  • Water

What to do

  • A full distance triathlon is too long to go without drinking, so you’re going to need to be knocking back a reasonable amount of fluids and electrolytes during the ride/run
  • The aim is to try to avoid under-drinking to the point that dehydration hampers your performance, whilst avoiding over-drinking, which can lead to hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels)
  • During a full distance race, you need to make a conscious effort to stay on top of your fluid and electrolyte replacement throughout the bike leg to avoid dehydration derailing your race later on
  • Most athletes will need to take in between 500ml and 1L per hour during The Bastion. The exact amount depends on the conditions, your own sweat rate and past experiences
  • Most athletes find they can take in less fluid per hour on the run than they can on the bike, which should give you an idea of the kind of volumes you might be able to tolerate
  • Experimenting within these guidelines, whilst learning to listen to your body, is the best way to work out how much you need to drink during a race
  • On the day, factors such as your pace and the weather will influence what you actually need and you should adjust your intake according to how you feel as the race unfolds

Why

  • Taking on board an appropriate amount of fluid and electrolytes is essential to maintaining your blood volume and supporting the cardiovascular effort you’ll be putting in
  • A 2015 study found that athletes who adequately replaced the sodium lost in their sweat finished a middle distance triathlon an average of 26 minutes faster than those who didn’t
  • As well as maintaining fluid balance, sodium plays an important role in the absorption of nutrients in the gut, maintaining cognitive function, nerve impulse transmission and in muscle contraction
  • Hydration is, of course, particularly important during longer events, when your net sweat losses can really mount up. That's especially the case if it'll be hot on the day

Pro tips

  • Drinking from cups at feed stations can make it tricky to work out exactly how much fluid you’re consuming. As a rough guide, half a standard paper cup will give you ~100ml of water
  • Squeeze aid station cups across the top to form a slit to pour water out of. This’ll reduce the amount that gets spilled
  • It’s often faster overall to walk a few paces through feed stations to ensure you get enough fluids on board, rather than trying to drink from cups whilst running at full speed
  • Consider carrying some blister-packed Electrolyte Capsules in case you run out of sports drink during the latter stages of the bike or run. Swallowing 2 capsules per 500ml of water you consume would deliver the same ratio of electrolytes to fluid as a bottle of PH 1000 from the feed stations

Checklist for adjusting your intake

Signs you may need to drink more include:

  • Feeling thirsty/dry mouth
  • Heart rate drifting upwards when compared to power output or effort
  • Tight, twitchy or crampy muscles

Signs you may need to drink less include:

  • Feeling bloated
  • Feeling water ‘sloshing’ in your stomach
  • Peeing too frequently

Signs you may need to increase your energy intake include:

  • Hunger
  • Attitude or mood deteriorating
  • Craving sugar

Signs you may need to decrease your energy intake include:

  • Feeling/being sick
  • Bloating
  • Upset stomach

Try the on-course fuel/hydration in training

"Nothing new on race day" has always been solid advice.

Grab a Castle Race Series Taster Pack to thoroughly road-test the on-course fuel and hydration before your race.

Don't forget to use the 15% off code you can find in emails from Castle Race Series.

Questions?

Book a free one-to-one video call with one of our fuelling experts or email hello@pfandh.com.