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You've done the drills. And you've mastered all those training miles. You most certainly have planned not to fail. But have you failed to plan?

"Have a plan,' says three-time Ironman winner Melissa Spooner. "You need to know what works for you. Know when and why and how you're going to eat."

Endurance athletes spend months physically preparing for the exertion it takes to finish a triathlon, marathon or other long-distance event. Yet often times, they skimp on figuring out how they will get enough calories and energy to keep them moving. Nutrition takes thought. It is as important and perhaps even more so than all those miles you're grinding out on the bike or trail or in the pool.


So, how much do you need?

"The questions are always: What food? How much food? And when?" says Bettina Warnholtz, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based triathlon coach with Racelab. "Nutrition during training and racing will depend on many different needs"

So, first determine during training the number of calories you will burn in an event. Put together a ballpark number. And then figure out how you're going to replace them. A rough guide: consume 300-500 calories per hour for extended endurance events. Just remember that every person is different and can need more or less fuel. That's why all this thinking is done before raceday.

Calories can come in many forms. Energy drinks, gels and even real food like peanut butter and honey sandwiches can give you the juice to beat the bonk. While endurance

nutrition products have evolved over the years, there still is no magic formula that works for every athlete. To start, figure out what (if any) gel or energy drink will be offered at your event. Try it before race day to see if it sits well. Train with it. If you find yourself bent over on the side of the road like an 8-year-old on a car trip to Wally World, find something else. Understand your body, plan, practice and prepare for a fuel-filled race.

Nutrition: The Fourth Discipline

Another way to approach nutrition planning is to compartmentalize, says Warnholtz. Think of nutrition planning as it's own event. Swim, bike, run, eat, is the idea. And figure out nutrition based on effort. For example, the body will feast on a small ...

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