Nutrition Insights from an Age Group Triathlete

By Lisa Stubbs

Nutrition for triathlon. For me, it has been a steep learning curve and one that I have only finally mastered this past year!

Let me firstly state that I am not a qualified nutritionist. This is my story of the journey that I have been on!

Setting My Nutrition Goals

Since returning to triathlon training and following a structured training plan to race, train, and recover correctly, I have learned that I need to treat my body like an engine and make sure I put the right fuel in! It's easier said than done when you're someone on the wrong side of 50 and isn't scared to admit they've struggled with weight gain all their lives, despite being sporty. And yes, I do still have good and bad days food-wise! Having a birthday cake in the house for hubby's 50th birthday recently was a serious temptation!

Triathlon Training Tips Nutrition

Lockdown last year hit me hard, both physically and mentally, and I hit rock bottom in June 2020. I was still following a structured training plan but was not as active as I had previously been, now having to work full time from home and not commuting and walking to my place of work as I had done pre-pandemic.

I had raced my first 70.3 in November 2019 with limited knowledge of how to fuel for the race and struggled. I had a bag full of chopped up energy bars to eat on my bike, and by the time I exited T2, I was unable to run as my stomach felt so heavy!

Sports Nutrition for Triathletes

Training Tips from my Nutritionist

I decided to work with a nutritionist who has helped re-educate and teach me to work with carb, fat and protein macros to help fuel and aid recovery post-training sessions. Working with him, he set daily macros for the week ahead based on the training scheduled by my triathlon coach - low training days would mean lower numbers of calories consumed and vice versa on a high training day, where I was allowed to eat more. Using the MyFitnessPal app, I programmed the daily macro goals into the app and religiously logged and scanned everything I ate and drank. One thing I quickly learnt was that I was not consuming enough protein in my daily diet. I also had access to my nutritionist's website and the many recipes that he had created.

For the first few weeks, it was difficult. Still, I gradually got into a routine and learnt which foods were the healthiest providing the best nutrition for me and through weekly 1:1 check-ins, we discussed how my week had been, my weight loss and what healthier food choices I could have made to fuel my training. Small changes included making rice cakes to eat on my long training rides, moving away from the energy bars I had previously consumed and which had a high level of fat in them. Planning the week for family dinners became an integral part of the plan, using his website and creating recipes on MyFitnessPal, which I could instantly add to my plan.

With his other clients, we also met up virtually every week and got to ask questions and share best practices for training and race nutrition. It's been great to share experiences with fellow triathletes, marathon runners, and cyclists, similar to the camaraderie we share being Neuff Red ambassadors!

Fueling for Triathlon Race Days

Triathlon Diet Plan

Fast forward to 2021 and my second attempt at the 70.3 distance at Outlaw Holkham. I went into this race 18kgs lighter from June 2020 with a full race nutrition plan I had practised for race day. I also had a pre-race day plan, increasing my carbs the day before the race and being low fibre to ensure I didn't suffer any GI distress. My race day nutrition was made up of Maurten 160 drink mix, gels and the drinks provided at the feed stations on the run. Being introduced to Maurten was a game-changer for me. It formed a crucial element of my race day nutrition, enabling me to complete the race with a 38-minute PB. From now on, I will continue to use Maurten as part of my race-day nutrition.

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About Lisa Stubbs

Lisa has been racing triathlon since 1993, with a gap to raise a family.  Since restarting in 2013, Lisa has been completely hooked!  Shi is an active member of Havering Tri, including volunteering as an open water swim guide.  Lisa says she is not the fastest of athletes, being 52 years old, but that it is about proving to herself and inspiring fellow club mates that you can achieve whatever you want as long as you are prepared to consistently train.  Lisa's most recent race was Midnight Man 70.3, where she won her age category.  A fantastic achievement!