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We have all been there—that unpleasant race-day incident you hope will never happen again. Although we’d like to think those “oh-no” moments are no big deal (hey, no one is perfect), it’s not easy to move on from what feels like The Worst. Mistake. Ever. As you think back to your most embarrassing race-day moments, here are a few tips to help you successfully recover from the most humiliating situations.
“I lost my race nutrition on the bike course, and I was desperate for calories but didn’t know what to do!”
Bumpy roads, railroad tracks, loose pockets, and ineffective bottle cages are most likely to blame when you nd yourself unable to stick to your scheduled race-day fueling plan. No matter how careful and prepared you are, it’s important to have an alternate strategy on standby. If you catch yourself in the act of dropping a bottle or nutrition product, take the one minute (or two) to turn around to claim your fallen item. If you don’t notice your missing fuel/bottle until it’s too late, it’s time to move on to on-course nutrition. As part of your standby plan, make sure you can tolerate on-course nutrition for that “oh-no” scenario. You don’t have to love the products on the course, but you need to like them enough to tolerate your Plan B fuel. In an Ironman, take advantage of the bike special needs bag, and use it for sportdrinks, powder, bars, and any other familiar sport nutrition products/foods that will keep you on pace with your energy and hydration needs for the last half of the ride, even if disaster strikes.
“Runners’ trots – darn you! Every time I run, I feel the urgent need to, um, go!”
When you’ve got to go, you hope there’s a bathroom (or a secluded bush) nearby. Most runners have been plagued by the infamous runners’ trots, but when it becomes a common occurrence, this can make for a very stressful and worrisome experience. To reduce the risk of diarrhea while running, there are a few tactics to take leading up to your race:
Pre-race: In the 48-72 hours before the race, avoid artificial sweeteners, dairy, and high fiber foods which can aggravate the gut. Stay well-hydrated to produce light yellow urine, and avoid caffeinated products. Give yourself at least two-and-a-half to three hours to digest your race-day meal. On the day before the race, avoid overeating in the evening, and instead make breakfast your biggest carb meal of the day.
On course: On the bike, limit or avoid concentrated sport nutrition products like chews, gels, and high-calorie drinks to promote optimal gastric emptying. Try opting for liquid-based nutrition, and have a structured plan for fueling/hydration. To avoid over-drinking at the aid stations, wear a hydration belt or pack so you can stick to a schedule for drinking/fueling. Consult with a sport dietitian to help you fine-tune your race-day fueling plan.
Also: Warm-up on dry land before the race, and try to fully empty your bowels. Minimize stress and pre-race nerves by practicing meditation or visualization before the race.
If you experience bloody stools, nausea, abdominal pain, and/or vomiting, consult with your doctor and a dietitian who specializes in endurance sports.