I am doing the Louisville IM this year, and need some info on nutrition.  I have done only sprint tris and one Olympic race before.  Is there a good book/other source of information somewhere?  I have heard a lot about this subject from blogs/discussions, and most of it centers around two themes: "everyone is different," and "don't eat anything during the race that you didn't eat during training."  I am looking for specific information about the following: 1) salt tablets- are they needed?? Where do I get them, how do I store them; do I take them with water, etc. 2) solid food - is it needed?  If so, what types... sandwiches, cliff bars, etc? 3) sports drinks- what kinds are best; how often should they be taken on the course; should they be diluted with water, etc. etc. 4) GUs- how many should be taken and can I survive an ironman on just these 5) anything else I should know- any other "must have" items on the race course?Also, I have low blood sugar so am looking for low-refined sugar options... thanks in advance.

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John, I personally love the resources from Hammer Nutrition.  Even if you don't use their products, which I also love, (my friends call me the Hammer guy), they will give you a base to at least test during long training sessions.

Try this link: Tips for a Successful Half or Full Iron Distance Triathlon

I would say it is certainly something that is specific to each individual but you have to start somewhere. I think everything shared by Jeff and Eric apply. Here's one of my favorite articles, a formula I used based on information from a podcast from http://www.IMTalk.me, and finally my personal plan which I have practiced in training and in 1/2 Ironman's.

  • How to Create Your Ironman Nutrition Plan
  • Formula to calculate amount of carb needed per hour (you need more than carb, or course, but I found this useful for general estimation)

    • Formula: .5-1 gram of carbohydrate per kg of body per hour
  • My personal plan
    • Weight in kg : 72 (my race weight) 
    • est for carbohydrate at .75 gram : 54 (estimated need per hour)
    • GU Expresso Love: Carb: 25 g (my favorite gel)
    • Honey Stinger Waffles: 21 g (my favorite solid)
    • Given this data, I consume GU and Honey Stinger Waffles on a 30 minute alternate schedule. In other words, I eat something every 30 minutes in this pattern (GU, Waffle, GU, Waffle, ...)
    • For hydration, I alternate water and gatorade every 15 minutes.
    • Personally, my GI tract is extremely tolerant and I have never had any nutritional brand or product give me issue. So, I will occasionally supplement these choices with what is offered on the course if I feel like it during the race. This can happen when I just get tired of the same flavors, consistency. Like Eric noted, I find I can not do gels only. I get tired of them and have a hard time forcing myself to take another one.
    • I will also supplement with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in transition too

I have not tried this in a full Ironman yet, but have in all of my training for Ironman Cozumel this year. I completed all training, but my wife went into surgery for gall bladder complication 2 days before we were to depart for Cozumel and had complications. I have also used this plan at the Augusta Ironman 70.3. I am confident it is right for me. I hope the info is helpful for your personal plan.

Thanks everyone for all the advice, I really appreciate all your info on race nutrition.  Looking forward to meeting you at the training events before IM LOU.

Contact the folks at Infinit Nutrition, they can help you sort out your nutrition. I've used it on the bike for a couple of seasons and it's worked well.  It's designed so you won't need any additional gels/bars/etc.  I mixed 2 concentrated bottles and added it to the water I picked up at the aid stations.  I didn't want to carry a concentrated bottle on the run so I just used the aid stations drinking water/IM Perform/coke, drinking as much as I could grab running through each station, plus a gel every half hour.  I did cramp on the run so I plan to add some salt pills for the run this year.


I've tried to train my stomach to take whatever I put in it.  Try it out in training, but honestly you won't really know until race day,  Good luck!


On a side note of nutrition, something that hurt my last year was coming from flat land to the hilly bike course, I wasn't prepared for fueling and hydrating on the constant rolling of terrain!  So while finding the right blance of nutrition is extremely important, so is being able to consume it while still riding the race you want!

This was the same concern I had last year.  Yes everyone is different, depends on sweat rate, training, etc....  I worked with a nutrition coach last year to work out a plan for intake. Louisville in August can be and is normally HOT and humid, 2011 we were lucky, but yes I would recommend salt tablets. 

The first thing I recommend for the bike is get a bento box, ie http://trisports.com/trisports-stem-bag.html.  Your lunchbox for your long days on the bike going forward.  For salt tablets, salt stick has the tube dispensers, but they only hold six tablets and i needed 12 for the bike so I used a big tic tac box.  Not as nice as the tube but fits well in a bento box on the bike.  thats all for accessories other than the obviuous of bottle cages on the bike.

my plan for the was as follows:

24-32oz fluid/hour

50-65 grams Carbs/hour

750-1000mg NA/hour

For my food (solids) alternated between clif bar and clif blocs on the bike with water & Ironman Perform and salt sticks.

For the run i switched to GU with water & Ironman Perform and salt sticks.  I would take a salt stick at the 15 and 45 of evey hour with whatever drink i had handy at the time.  I would not dilute the sport drinks becuase then you aren't getting the full nutrition value.

Start trying different things now and in trainingto see what works.  This what they had at aid stations last year:

Bike Aid Stations:



PowerBar Gel



Run Aid Stations:




PowerBar Gel


Chicken Soup Broth (Fulls only, after dark)



I had my own food but used the fluids from the aid stations.  Felt good all day and with the exception of bad blisters on the run it was a good finish.  Back this year more......


Bob's training sessions in Louisville are really important as well.

Thanks again to everyone for your posts... I have learned a lot about race nutrition in a short amount of time. Looking forward to meeting you on Bob's training rides.  By the way- I learned that Ironman perform will be lemon lime on the bike course and orange mango on the run leg, if that helps any of you with your planning.  I plan to train with it in advance.

hi everyone! i did my first marathon this weekend, and thought i had done well with my in-race hydration/nutrition, but 6 hours in the ER getting fluids and potassium has convinced me otherwise! there were aid stations every 1.5 miles and i drank either 2 waters or 2 waters and 1 gatorade at each station. also during the race i consumed one clif shot block about every 30 minutes after the first hour. additionally i had some pretzels (the equivalent of probably half of a 100cal bag), and half a banana. i felt great during the race, but about 45 minutes after i developed nonstop nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and rapid breathing. 3 bags of IV fluid and some potassium later and i was much better, but it is something that i would very much like to avoid in the future!

the temperature was a relatively cool 60 degrees with some wind, and the sun was behind the clouds most of the day, so i can't blame the weather. my training was adequate, but not fantastic. i struggled with the holidays and getting all my runs in. my longest run prior to the marathon was 16 miles. and also, i'm probably a good 20lbs overweight, which definitely contributes to some of my issues i'm sure. however, those 20lbs are not new, and this is a problem that i've never had before. 

so i would really appreciate any thoughts that you guys have. any suggestions as to what i might have done wrong? too much, too little, or just the wrong stuff?

thanks for the help in advance, 


when you say 45 min after, is that after you'd finished, 45min later you got sick?  that has happened to me before, and usually means dehydration. 

when you start feeling thirsty for instance, thats usually to late.

sounds like you need to probably drink more water, and eat more than half a banana. 

with the IM, you'll have plenty of time in the run leg, to walk, eat the whole banana without scoffing it down and drink a full cup of water. with a sip of something else. and do this atleast once per 1hr  along with taking a drink of water at every station. 

also, at T2, make sure you take your time and begin your eating (light) and drinking. so many people blast out onto the run, and then find by mile 3-4 they're done. usually the bike leg has taken its toll already.

right, it was 45 minutes after i finished the race that i started to get sick. definitely want to get this nailed down before louisville!
Can you guess how many ounces were in each cup? Maybe 3-4? Try this example...there were 17 aid stations? Okay a rough estimate if you drank 6 oz water per station would be 102 oz + the Gatorade. Say you had 24 oz Gatorade then the total beverage could be 126 oz. Looks like you didn't have much sodium. I am learning to use it and am initially planning 500 mg per hour (1 salt tab for me has 340 mg) ~ http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/hydrationandfluid/a/Sodium_Salt.htm

On a recent 12 mile run I should have consumed 90 ounces and you had maybe 124-ish for 26.2. I had 72 oz for that 12 miler and was dehydrated losing 3.5% of my bodyweight. My un-professional guess is that you were dehydrated! Three IVs is pretty hard core!
my husband and i were trying to calculate my intake last night. it's just a rough estimate but i think around 120 oz is probably pretty close. definitely need to drink more next time and do a better job of hydrating before the race. i was trying to "live off the course" but maybe next time i should also take some fluid with me.


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