When I raced my first ironman back in 2008, experienced ironman athletes advised me to use gels because they were an easy and quick way to replenish calories. One gel before the swim, then one gel every thirty minutes on the bike, then the same during the run. It took me almost 11 hours to cross the finish line, so I ingested about 20 gels during the whole race. Thank goodness they make these things in different flavors.
I completed that crazy race with a huge smile on my face and lots of tears. It was truly one of the most memorable days for me as an athlete (I didn’t even call myself an athlete back then). I remember how much I hated gels after that race, they worked fine for the race, but after that I couldn’t even look at them. From that day on gels were out of my life for good. But spending all day swimming, biking and running had now become a major part of my life. So I needed new ideas to fuel my body during long training days and races.
The number one replacement I usually use when I am racing is “gummies”. You know, the little bag with colorful treats that kids love. I fill my bike bag with them and slowly chew on them during the bike ride. On the run I carry a bag with me. I choose the organic options to avoid artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. If I am going to eat a bunch of these sugary treats, then they better be a “healthier” type of candy.
My second favorite snack is something very popular in Brasil–dried bananas. They are full of potassium and natural sugar. However, they were not so easy to be found in the US, but a good friend and former pro triathlete brought the idea to the world and founded his company Barnana. He made this perfect Brazilian snack even better, spicing these delicious chewy bananas with peanut butter, dark chocolate, coconut, apple and cinnamon flavors. Even if you are not a big fan of bananas you should give Barnana a try, you might love them as well.
3. RICE BALLS
I learned about this third and simple snack with another friend, a Japanese owner of a triathlon bike company,. One day when we were traveling together for a race, I saw him making little rice balls, sprinkling them with salt and carefully wrapping them in plastic wrap, in a very Japanese minimalist style. He told me: “That’s my secret weapon to go fast!”. My half Japanese side loves white rice, and my athlete soul loves to go fast. Great match!
Nutrition during endurance training and racing is a huge part of the game. To be successful with your long workouts and racing, it is key to practice your snacks and find out what works best for you. These three snacks have been working for me, but there are a wide variety of great and healthy snacks out there that can help you to sustain and improve your energy levels during your workouts and races. Everybody is unique and something that works great for someone might not be the best option for another.
And of course, the nutrition before and after training and racing is just as important as the snacks during. Maybe that is going to be my next topic for future articles…
Which snacks work best for you while training & racing? Share below, I would love to learn new ones.
some “snacks” are worth sharing…