Let’s Talk Fuel

Last week I promised that I would talk about fuel.

So! Let’s do it.  Let’s talk about fuel for a minute, and no, I am not referring to the fuel that you put in your car.  But rather let’s chat about the things that we use to fuel our body during a race, especially during a race the magnitude of an Iron distance event.  This is an event where you are going to be working hard for 140.6 miles with the potential to be out there on the race course for up to 17 hours.  (Fingers crossed you make it in less than 17 hours or your day is done without your medal.)


Fuel is an area that has caused me to struggle for the last couple of years.  In shorter distance races I have always been ok doing the regular old gu, Gatorade, honey stinger sort of thing.  However, last year, I found out that in a longer race my stomach just cannot handle all of the artificial blah blah that is found in these little guys.  By the time I am out on the run, I am literally running to a bathroom if I eat too of these.

Fortunately this year, my coach is also a nutritionist and I have leaned on her heavy to help me figure out how best to fuel myself and endure a full distance Ironman without many trips to the bathroom.  We have had some trial and error, but I think that we may be there now.  The focus has been real food for the most part.  From the get go this has been her emphasis.

On the bike: 

Currently on the bike I am using Skratch Labs lemon lime for the bulk of my hydration needs.  I am also mixing in water from time to time.  I continue to carry a bottle of Infinit Isis mix on my bike in case I start to feel like I’m bonking (aka not getting enough calories) but thus far I haven’t needed it.

For calories, I had tried a few different more natural yet still packaged products.  The problem that I had with those things was not how they made me feel, but simply that I couldn’t get down 300 calories per hour.  My tummy was too full and I wasn’t able to keep up.  Then my energy stores would start to drop and as usual I felt like junk.  So! Here’s what my coach came up with:

Easy 3-Ingredient Energy Bars at Home from http://www.thekitchn.com.

You can click the link for the recipe, but I will tell you to try it.  All you need are nuts, dried fruit and dates.  I mean, it cannot get easier than this!


Wham-o! These suckers are tasty.  Not only have I been using them, but I’ve been handing them out to several of my friends and they all agree that they’re good! And thus far my energy levels have been great and I have had no GI issues (aka bathroom).  So, I’m sold.  These are my new go to fuel for biking.  I am excited to try some of the alternative flavor combinations.


On the Run:

The run is also an issue.  In the past I would mostly use gu on the run and again, it never ended well.  So, I’ve been in search of something that I can digest and my stomach can handle on the run.  The solution… baby food.  I realize that this sounds totally ridiculous, but let me explain.

I purchased a gel flask that hooks onto my hydration belt and am purchasing Peter Rabbit Organics fruit blends.  I can fit almost two full pouches in my flask for a total of 200 calories.  It’s easy to eat while running and readily digestible.  I’ve tried it on two long runs thus far and so far so good.  I’m thinking that during Ironman Lake Placid, I’m going to need to stash some of it in my special needs for a refill because I can’t carry enough calories with me, but I’m optimistic it will work.

So! That’s my current fueling story.  I’m going to give it all a try this weekend as I am racing at the Black Bear Triathlon Half Iron in Pennsylvania.  I’ll be sure and report how the fueling goes as it’s a tough course and I should have plenty of time to practice.

Now… share, what do you use for fuel?

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3 Responses to Let’s Talk Fuel

  1. swimbikepsych says:

    Sarah, this is AMAZING. I’ve been struggling with the same issues–especially after GI loveliness at American Zofingen a couple of weeks ago. Can’t wait to try these myself!

    GOOD LUCK at Black Bear! Wooo!! Looking forward to hearing how it goes.

    • Sarah F says:

      Here’s to hoping. Nutrition has been a super struggle for me so if this works I am all in. I’ve done a 70 bike followed by a 2 mile run with ZERO issues. So my fingers are crossed!

  2. Pingback: {IMLP} The Swim | Chasing Down a Dream

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