The Battle of the Carbs...


By Cami Eckhoff

Fueling and hydration - this aspect of endurance training caught me by surprise last year. I guess you could say I learned the hard way. Migraines post race (all but 1), headaches after long training sessions, terrible side stitches during two of my races, didn’t go to the bathroom once during my half Ironman of 5 hours… can you say DEHYDRATED! It was my own battle of the carbs - I knew I needed them and was told approximately how many per hour for my long sessions and races but I was still skeptical of it and thought I would put on extra weight because of it, so I skimped on it and didn’t take time to learn what would work best for my body so I could maximize my time on the course. This 4th discipline of triathlon is just as important, so is the 5th, rest… but that’s for another day!

Now that I have a greater understanding of the science behind it and the importance of it from listening to many podcasts on fueling and hydration for endurance sports and working with my coach, there are general principles and guidelines to follow as well as a variety of ways to fuel (gels, chews, drinks, etc) and each athlete needs to figure out what works best for them...

So I have become my own scientist! Experimenting within my training sessions to find out what’s most suitable for me. Bottom line: When the demand is high I need to get energy to the muscle fast and carbohydrates are fast burning energy.

How do we understand what our body needs? The main question to ask~ how long am I going for… then apply these general principles (again, very customized to each person).

*Less than 45 minutes the body doesn’t need extra fuel.
**45 min-2 hrs need 30-60 g /hr carbs, carbs tanks are actually full enough to get by the session without extra carbs but the more carbs we consume the better we can perform!

***2+ as 60-80+ (Some say up to 120) LEARN through training to consume max amount per hour!

Combining forms of simple sugars is also helpful. For example, glucose and fructose have slightly different metabolic structures and the body can use both so we are able to teach our body how to get more into circulation to use for energy, which leads to better performance!

More carbs in training and racing means we won’t fatigue as quickly! It’s energy!! And carbs are once again, good.