Simple sport nutrition tweaks for hot weather training - run


I feel many triathletes need a constant reminder that they are not runners. Certainly, runners do not need to be reminded that they are not triathletes.

Runners absorb a completely training stress than the multisport athlete. Furthermore, the race day effort of a triathlete is based on the race distance, which determines what time of the day a triathlete runs and what type of mechanical fatigue the triathlete brings to the run. Thus, the pacing and fueling strategy for run training and running are very different than the single sport athlete.
(Note - even for runners, I still find it valuable to set up aid stations or bring nutrition and hydration with you during long runs)

For the triathletes, you can not think like a runner when you train for triathlons.

For example, if you are doing a brick run, you can not think of your run off the bike as "only" a 20-minute run. I see it all the time - a triathlete is out on his/her bike for 3, 4, 5+ hours and then comes the run off the bike and no fluids are consumed during the run.  If you ride your bike for 3 hours and run 20 minutes off the bike, you are completing a 3 hour and 20 minute workout - you can not think that you are "only" running 20 minutes. Sure, a solo 20 minute run does not need calories or fluids but your body still requires and deserves fluids, electrolytes and calories to finish off your workout.

Once this new fueling strategy is ingrained into your head, you will notice that you are running better off the bike (not barely surviving or suffering), you are more energized and thinking clearly during a run off the bike, you are protecting your health (allowing you to train more consistently), you can reduce risk for injury and you can reduce your overall training stress, thus allowing you to recover faster. I can't tell you how many athletes that I have worked with who consistently underfuel and underhydrate while running all because it doesn't seem natural or needed to bring nutrition and hydration on a run.  By fueling and hydrating properly, not only do you build confidence for race day, train your gut and improve performance but you protect your health AND you can function better in life (your family can thank me for this advice).

-There are many hydration belts and packs on the market so take your pick. Just please carry something with you that allows you to run with good form (I advise to not carry anything more than 6-8 ounces in your hand as it can throw off your gait and cause muscle tension in the neck/back). A hydration pack/belt allows you to hydrate and fuel consistently when YOU want to fuel and hydrate. Yes, it may feel uncomfortable at first but just like running with a HR monitor, wearing a hat/visor, running with a watch or wearing an ankle strap or race belt around your waist, you can get use to it.

-In hot weather, you need to plan for 1 x 10+ ounce flask with 70-100 calories of a hydration based sport drink with at least 250-400+ mg sodium for every 30 minutes of running - this is for any length brick run or long run. If you run on the treadmill, the same strategy applies but you can use a sport bottle instead of a flask.

-You also need to plan for 1 x 10 ounce flask of cold water for every 30 minutes of running for any brick run or long run. This will be a lifesaver as you can now use this cold water for sipping and for cooling to help control core temperature. 

-Plan your run routes accordingly so that you can make quick stops for easy refilling of sport nutrition powder (ex. baggies or single serving packets) and use water fountains or bottles for water. Many sport nutrition companies (ex. Scratch, Tailwind, Clif Hydration, EFS pro) provide single serving packets so you can carry refill powder with you when you need to refill. 

-To reduce the risk of GI upset and to optimize digestion and absorption, I suggest to sip your drink every 8-10 minutes and as needed. Never ration your hydration when you run because you don't want to stop or your  next stop isn't for an hour - sip when you want and when you are finished, refill. It's ideal to best understand when you prefer to drink.

-If you are using a hydration beverage (ex. sport nutrition product that provides calories and sodium, which is recommended), you will reduce the risk of overdrinking on plain water, as it is typical for athletes who run without a sport drink to either overdrink on water when they stop or get to a water fountain/gas station or only consume water during a long run (or after a long bike) thus depleting sodium stores.

-If you prefer gels or chews over powder, you still need to carry water with you. However, you can replace a sport drink powder with bloks/chews but it's important to still consume your calories consistently (and make sure your gel/chews contain sodium).

-If you prefer gels, use a gel flask (1 gel mixed in water in a small flask) for easy sipping. It's recommended to use a gel flask instead of consuming a gel every 45 minutes as a gel is properly digested and absorbed with 12-16 ounce of water. Using a gel flask dilutes the gel for easier digestion.

-Incorporate walk breaks into your run training regime to get more comfortable consuming fluids and calories when you are running. It can take up to 6 weeks to train your gut if you are not yet comfortable (or tolerating) consuming nutrition when you run. 

Example; If you are running for 30 minutes off the bike, bring 80-100 calories of sport nutrition in a     10-ounce flask and a 10-ounce flask of ice cold water.
If you are running for 2 hours, start your run with 1 flask of sport nutrition and 1 flask of water and refill your flasks every 30 minutes.

(This is recommended for hot weather training).
IMPORTANT - Please DO NOT ration your sport nutrition or water because you don't want to stop or because you think it is cool to underfuel.
You will gain fitness, train more consistently, build confidence in your sport nutrition plan for race day and protect your health by fueling and hydration adequately.

TIP: To prevent taste bud fatigue, vary your flavors of sport drink throughout your long rides and runs so that you are not always consuming lemon-lime flavor (as an example) every time you train.

Also, if you feel that your mouth gets tired of the "sweet" taste of a sport drink, have a sip of a carbonated drink, consume something sour or take a bit of a savory bar (ex. peanut butter, chocolate, bacon-flavored, etc.) to excite the taste buds so that you can return back to your routine fueling regime.