When you’re training for a high-mileage Ironman triathlon, fueling up the right way isn’t just about what you consume. It’s about how you consume it, so you can maximize the benefits of workout recovery and race-day performance. This is especially true for Ironman newbies—because if you’re not properly nourished, you’ll fade faster than Lindsay Lohan at an all-night happy hour.
“For endurance races, especially the Ironman and Half Ironman, diet is critical,” says Penny L. Wilson, a registered dietitian with the Ironman Sports Medicine Institute. “Especially on race day, you’re out there for 12 to 17 hours. You have to be able to fuel your body to go that long.”
Wilson says to test your diet early on in training and tweak your intake until you find a near-perfect nutritional balance that satisfies your body's needs. “If it works good in training, it wont work at the race," she says, "It needs to be great.”
Though everyone’s nutritional demands vary, here is Wilson’s general, no-fail advice. Follow her rules to build a diet plan that works for you—and be a well-fueled endurance machine by the time race day rolls around.