Note: In the print issue Pg 55, there were some formating issues with the staff at Triathlete Magazine that affected my article (in the 2nd column - the print words are not my words) so I wanted to take the opportunity to share my entire article with you. Sometimes these things happen in print so it's no fault to the dedicated staff at Triathlete Magazine.
Racing off-road brings a variety of challenges, specific to the unique terrain variations at each venue. The unpredictability of race day can be intimidating, especially if your skills are still a work in progress. But ask any Xterra athlete and he/she will tell you that the thrill and accomplishment of off-road racing, alongside the easygoing atmosphere, will keep you craving for more.
Road triathlon – Fuel/hydrate on a schedule.
Off-road triathlon – Fuel/hydrate when you can.
While your body will perform at its best if you aim to meet your hourly carbohydrate (30-60g), electrolyte (400-1000mg) and fluid needs (20-28 ounce), don’t rely on sticking to a schedule. Off-road bike/run courses are difficult, requiring great skill and focus as you manage the terrain. When you get a chance to fuel/hydrate, take it! Although liquid calories are recommended, as they provide a one-stop-shop for meeting energy needs, stuff your pockets with extra gels, chews and bars for those “just in case” scenarios.
Off-road triathlon – Bring your nutrition with you.
Practice fueling/hydrating during training with your preferred sport nutrition products. You need experience drinking (and possibly eating) while dodging rocks and roots. Unlike smooth asphalt, off-road racing is anything but smooth. A hydration pack on the bike and hydration belt on the run will make fueling/hydrating an uncomplicated task as you navigate the terrain with little aid station support.
Off-road triathlon – Be conservative
On the trails, your off-road adventure will take significantly longer than the same completed distance on controlled terrain. Thus, your intensity and nutrition will play a big part in your ability to manage the obstacles you overcome on race day. Knowing that no amount of nutrition can help you race like a pro, pacing is critical to your racing success. Because the course dictates your effort and energy expenditure, be sure to preview the course ahead of time. Instead of setting a goal/time pace, focus on small segments of the course that you can execute to the best of your ability.