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Q: I am still doing most of my training indoors, but I want to begin practicing my early-season race nutrition now. What do I need to know?
A: Indoor cycling is much harder because the trainer resistance doesn’t let up, and there is no coasting. Additionally, despite the fans and open windows, most triathletes sweat copiously during indoor workouts, so you should take your hydration and fueling seriously. If you have a home scale, conduct sweat tests to start determining your fluid needs. Check your weight (nude) pre-ride, note fluid intake during your workout, and check your weight again (nude) post-workout. For each pound lost, aim to consume an additional 16 ounces of fluid during the same indoor workout duration next time. Practice drinking at least 4 ounces every 10–15 minutes, and increase as needed until you are matching your sweat rate. Practicing now, while fluids are readily available and bike-handling skills are not an issue, will pay off in early-season races. When you move to outdoor training, you’ll have to adjust your intake based on outdoor sweat rate and fluid carrying capacity on your bike and the run, but will be well on your way to a solid nutrition and hydration plan.
I also encourage my athletes to take advantage of indoor training to experiment with new sports drink flavors and new products because you can pre-fill several bottles without having to carry them, and if you hate one (or if your gut rebels), you can simply try another pre-filled bottle without much risk.
Clinical nutritionist and certified sports dietitian Lauren Antonucci is the owner/director of Nutrition Energy in New York City.