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How Triathlon Training Nutrition Works

Olympic Triathlon Nutrition
Fruits are a good source of carbs for triathletes.
Fruits are a good source of carbs for triathletes.

As one might guess from the name, an Olympic Triathlon is the one in which athletes compete every four years at the Summer Olympic Games. You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to take part in this event; Olympic triathlons are held regularly all over the world, outside the context of the Olympic Games.

Here are the distances involved:

  • a 1.5-kilometer swim (.93 miles)
  • a 40-kilometer bike ride (24.8 miles)
  • a 10-kilometer run (6.2 miles)

So, the distances for the cycling and running sections are about double what they are in the sprint triathlon, while the swim is around three times longer [source:]. With that in mind, let's focus on what you need to eat in order to make it through a tough swim.

"Carbo-loading" is a popular term among sports aficionados, but what kind of carbs should you be loading? Instead of traditional carbohydrate vehicles like pasta and bread, USA Swimming advises swimmers to get their carbs from fruit. Fruit contains natural sugars, as well as much-needed vitamins and minerals. As a bonus, fruits like blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, which help cleanse your body of the free radicals produced during an intense workout. Left unchecked, free radicals can break down muscle tissue, so getting those out of your system is crucial [source:]. Also, instead of consuming the traditional three large meals a day, stick to a smaller meal every two or three hours. This will help keep your energy levels steady and prevent a major crash that comes with falling blood sugar [source:].

So, you've got a handle on swimming -- let's take a look at some other key nutritional tips.