Triathlon prep can feel overwhelming, especially for beginners. Often the stress of trying to understand what to eat for a triathlon, what equipment to buy, and how to train can consume your mind in the lead up to the race.
It doesn’t need to be so complicated and by overthinking the process, you end up thieving yourself of the excitement of competing.
The easiest way to prepare for a triathlon is by first checking the even rules. This will give you an insight of what you can expect on race day and what you need to prepare for. Checking event rules can also aid in overcoming the stress and anxiety of preparing and participating.
Below we take you through our top tips on what to eat for a triathlon, what to buy, and what to do. Making the process easier, quicker, and more enjoyable for you.
Table of Contents
What To Eat
Maintaining a healthy, balanced and tasty nutrition regime is vital when undergoing triathlon prep. Establish a food routine that energizes you for training, and fits within your budget and your schedule.
Protein and Carbohydrate Filled Meals
The two most important things to include in your food for a triathlon are proteins and carbohydrates.
Protein is made up of multiple amino acids. Many of these amino acids are produced within our bodies but 9 are found and consumed solely from food. Protein-filled foods you can add to your diet when searching for what to eat for a triathlon include:
Eating protein will aid your body with muscle recovery after intense training sessions. This is super important for triathlon prep because you will be training multiple times a week and need your muscles to remain strong and prepared for race day.
Carbohydrates are equally as important as adding proteins to your diet. Carbohydrates provide your body, specifically your muscles, with boosts of energy throughout workouts. This improves your endurance. Carbohydrate food for a triathlon can also provide sufficient fuel to your brain, giving you a clear mind and increased motivation.
When exercising for more than 60 minutes, consuming carbohydrates helps to ensure that the muscles have enough energy, especially as the competition or workout progresses. It has also been discovered that this enhances performance.
Carbohydrate food you can add to your diet as triathlon prep includes:
Supplements aren’t exclusive to bodybuilders and professional athletes. They are a great tool for anyone looking to improve their athletic performance, energy levels, and muscle recovery. The most effective triathlon prep will include a blend and balance of healthy food and supportive supplements.
Understanding what to eat for a triathlon in regards to supplements can be confusing so we have compiled a short list of the most recommended supplements below:
- Creatine (muscle strength)
- Multi-vitamins (covers all general bases)
- Vitamin D (bone strength)
- Calcium (bone health)
- Fish oil (heart health)
- Beta alanine (longer endurance)
- Electrolyte gels/powders (hydration)
Protein shakes are a form of fitness supplements and a great thing to include in your what to eat for a triathlon list. Protein shakes are an easy source for obtaining essential amino acids without having to prepare a meal or snack.
Shakes come pre-made, which means you can just grab one from the fridge to enjoy before or after a workout. Pre-made protein shakes tend to be on the pricey side so you can opt for a protein powder instead which you mix with water or milk.
What To Buy
The list of triathlon essentials and gear that is marketed to athletes can be very long and out of budget for many people. The good news is that you don’t actually need half of the recommended items and the ones you do need can be sourced at an affordable price.
As a part of your triathlon prep, ensure you have suitable gear for each section of the race such as a wetsuit, helmet, and water bottle.
Finding the perfect running shoes is essential during triathlon prep. The shoes you choose will be worn throughout two-thirds of the race so you must ensure you make the right choice.
Here are some things you should look for:
- Comfortable fit
- Supportive design
- Fast drying and breathable material
- Quick to put on
A tow float is a bag produced from waterproof material. Tow floats are manufactured with bright colors with the aim to help swimmers be seen in open water. Each tow float is designed to be filled with air which can add extra buoyancy when attached to your waist or wrist while swimming.
While tow floats aren’t widely used during triathlons due to space limitations, they are a great piece of equipment to include in your triathlon prep. This is because they add an extra layer of safety and protection when training in open water.
The bright colors will keep you seen in case you get into any difficulty in the water and the buoyancy of the tow float will allow you a brief place to rest while in the water.
This is an accessory people forget to include in their triathlon prep essentials. It seems typical to include this during summer triathlons due to the blaring sun but sunglasses will also protect your eyes from the winter sun.
The winter sun often feels brighter and prolonged exposure to your eyes will cause them to strain and can lead to a headache. Sunglasses are recommended during the cycling portion of the race to avoid high winds making your eyes water and stop stray mud/debris/flies from getting in your eyes.
The type you buy does not have to be expensive and designed a specific way, any kind will do the job.
What To Do
Now that you have got a greater understanding of what to eat for a triathlon and what to buy, it is valuable to also explore three things you should do before the race.
Acclimatising is the act of adjusting to new conditions. In the triathlon world, this usually means adjusting your body to the temperature and weather conditions of race day.
If you are competing in the summer, it is important that you train outside in the heat. An air-conditioned gym is much more desirable but training in the midday heat will get your body used to runing, cycling and swimming during tough conditions.
Other triathlon prep tips for summer acclimatising is using a sauna after each workout to ramp up your body’s endurance.
If you are competing in winter, the hardest thing to brace yourself for is the temperature of the water. The easiest way to adjust your body to these conditions is by partaking in plenty of cold water swimming, cold showers, and making sure you have a hot drink before and after the race.
If you are doing triathlon prep then we are sure you are already practicing and training with an established routine. It is important not to push yourself too hard and risk burnout before the day of the race.
Try implementing shorter workouts dedicated to each section of a triathlon every week. Then spend one day dedicated to doing a full run through. This gives your body efficient training without being exhausted every day.
Within triathlon prep, you should also practice smooth transitions. This includes switching out of wet clothes, putting socks on, and lacing up your shoes.
The final thing on our triathlon prep list is perhaps the most important. Booking in for a full health check with your doctor will let you know if you should participate in the race or not.
Sitting out the race after tons of training and preparation is devastating, but nothing is worth risking your health. If you have a health check six months before the race, this can give you sufficient time to improve any issues before having another health check at least a week before the race.