How to approach your nutrition for an Olympic distance triathlon

How to approach your nutrition for an Olympic distance triathlon

On today's episode of TRI with CoachParry Rudolf and Brad dive into everything that is needed with regard to nutrition for an Olympic Distance Triathlon, both on race day and in training. Rudolf also shares how much nutrition is needed whether you're a recreational triathlete or one aiming for a podium finish

If you're looking for guidance with your triathlon training, be sure to check out the CoachParry Online Training Club, where not only do you have access to over 70 programs but also get to be in contact with Rudolf and all our CoachParry Coaches in our members only forum CLICK HERE for more info!

Do you want to shave 10 minutes off your Ironman swim time?

You can with our FREE swim drill videos that you can incorporate into your swim training once a week, and with no expensive equipment needed

Included in the programme:

Detailed descriptions of each drill so you know how to do them.

Short videos showing you EXACTLY what to do (Number 4 will turn you into the "Swim Slayer" so that you crush your next triathlon swim)


What are you training for?

Simply click on any of the images below to access out triathlon training programs.

Olympic Distance Triathlon Nutrition

Brad Brown: Welcome back onto another edition of Tri with Coach Parry, I’m Brad Brown, it’s good to have you with us and we’ve got our triathlon coach, Rudolf Naude with us once again today and we’re talking nutrition. Rudolf, welcome onto the podcast once again, thanks for joining us.

Rudolf Naude: Hi there Brad, thanks for having me.

BB: No worries. Rudolf, let’s talk about nutrition. Often we talk about it being the 4th discipline of triathlon, particularly when you start going longer, like half Ironman distance and full Ironman distance, but it’s definitely got a role to play in the shorter stuff as well and this question popped up in our forums in and it’s about,

how do you approach an Olympic distance triathlon from a nutrition point of view in the build up to it and then we’ll talk about the race and how to handle it during the race in a moment. Talk to me a little bit about how to approach an Olympic distance triathlon from a nutrition point of view, in training and in the buildup to race day?

RN: If we start training-wise, you do get intensity sessions. A lot of people will do [brick?] sessions to simulate the race going from biking to running, as that’s the most difficult part in a triathlon. Even when you start training that, use the nutrition that you will use on race day. That’s where you can experiment with nutrition, do you want to just use energy gels or do you want to use bars or a combination of the two?

Training is really a mini race where you can experiment and test yourself to see what works, what doesn’t work and also what your stomach will handle. Before the race, in the mornings, 2-3 hours before, depending on how well you know your stomach, how well you can stomach the food without giving you problems – I know a lot of people can eat before the race; some people can’t eat before the race.

You need to find out what works and what doesn’t work for you, but I’m sure a lot of you have experimented in training. You know before training, listen, I can eat before a run, but I can’t eat before a swim, that’s also where you experiment with it. Have a breakfast 2-3 hours before the time. I normally have three hours before the race, I have breakfast and then an hour and a half I eat half an energy bar and then that is me ready to go.

In the race itself, before swimming, I don’t take a gel or anything before the swim because it’s so short. On the bike I normally would have one bottle of energy drink and then one bottle of water. If it’s a warm race, cool yourself down or if you just want water to drink, not energy drinks. Normally I try and find the energy drink and with the water, half drink the bottle, spray the other half or just leave it as is.

Then straight after the bike I take a gel and then that’s me for the race. I take the gel just before I exit T2, drink it down with some water and then that’s me for the race. You’re racing between two, two and a half to three hours, depending on your level, so that’s my advice for people.

You don’t need to eat a lot because it is a short race and your breakfast will hold you throughout most of the race.


Recreational vs Podium Athletes?


BB: Rudolf, as far as someone like you, who is at the top end of the field, are your nutrition needs different to somebody who is possibly at the back and finishing closer to three hours? Is there a vast difference? Do they need to do anything differently or is that pretty much the way anyone can do it?

RN: The golden rule with nutrition is your body can absorb 60g of carbs per hour, if you get it from a single source. If you get it from a dual source, like fructose and glucose, you can absorb up to 90g per hour. The golden rule is not to break the 60g or 90g per hour limit otherwise you’re going to have stomach issues. That’s the basic thing.

You can work out for yourself, if you’re racing three hours and more, you can work out what you can stomach and what you can’t stomach, whether it be in the form of gels, bars or energy juice. If you feel like you need that little bit of extra, you can take some extra because you are racing longer.

Maybe a full bottle and a gel on the bike and then just one gel for the run or maybe perhaps if the running is your weaker discipline, you can have two gels on the run, one at the start and one after 4-5km.

BB: Brilliant, Rudolf, as always, great to catch up, thanks for your time today on Tri. Don’t forget, if you’re looking for help on your triathlon journey, be sure to check out our training platform on, you get access to all of our training programmes from beginner sprint programmes right through to advanced Ironman, all you need to do is head over to that URL. You can get access to it on the website or on our very easy to use IOS or Android app. The website to get to once again is

Rudolf, until next time, thanks for your time today and we’ll chat soon.

RN: Thanks for having me Brad, cheers.

Subscribe to RIDE with Coach Parry

Subscribe on iTunes

Download via RSS

+ +