One of my favorite stories to tell from my triathlons is about the time I was able to run my friend into throwing up. Sadistically, it is a source of pride for me. While I like to think it was my running ability that pushed him too far, I think his sports drink had a part to play. That incident cemented my belief in using minimal ingredient fuel for races.
The race with my friend happened to be my first triathlon. I had no idea what to expect. My lovely wife convinced me to use plain coconut water instead of traditional, store-bought electrolyte drinks. My friend had a sugar-free PowerAde. He was ahead of me off the bike, but I quickly caught him on the run. He tried to keep pace with me as I kept pushing the tempo. As we got a hundred yards from the finish, he had to pull over to the side of the road and proceeded to water the plants with his sports drink. My stomach felt just fine. Ever since that race, I have not needed any convincing to stick with the coconut water. For many years, I did add a VEGA electrolyte powder to the coconut water. Now I make my own (see recipe below). I have never had any trouble processing the liquid.
The other type of fuel I use during triathlons is gels. Again, wanting to keep my ingredients clean, I used a VEGA gel for years. I have now switched to a homemade gel made from coffee, chia seeds, honey, molasses, and salt (Recipe below). I also throw down an almond butter packet before races and on longer bike rides. As with the coconut water, I have never had any stomach issues on any of my races.
Just like outrunning my friend is a source of pride for me, so is the fact that I make my own fuels for races. I like to know what I am putting in my body. I, of course, practiced with these fuels before racing, as anyone should. It is nice to know that I can compete well on nutrition that won’t mess up my stomach, speaking from experience.
Fill water bottle 2/3 full of plain coconut water. Add a pinch of salt. Steep green tea in the bottle several hours to overnight. Fill the rest of the bottle with pomegranate juice.
Mix 1/2 cup of coffee with 1 tablespoon of honey and molasses. Add a pinch of salt. Mix in 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. Let seeds soak. (I put mine in two squeezable tubes, such as those found in the luggage area at Target. You can also find my favorite one, called GoToob, on Amazon)