01 May The travelling triathlete… Brandon
Travelling can be a big part of the sport of triathlon – whether it is a few hours to a race or even overseas. The tricky logistics of nutrition, hydration and bike transport can really derail your ideal race, and so we turned to one of our Bindi athletes – Brandon – who travels overseas regularly for elite races. He has learnt about dehydration, food poisoning and mechanicals the hard way, and so has some great tips if you are considering a destination race.
Brandon, as you are heading into your longest international season to date, how will you plan your day to day nutrition? (Brandon has several 1-2 week international trips plus a 10 week stint in Spain).
I don’t follow a specific plan but try to keep my nutrition fairly similar week to week, as training is fairly similar week after week, which allows me to stay consistently topped up with the fuel I need for each session. It took me quite a while to find exactly what works but I have found a good balance in what works for me on any given day of the week. In general I try to eat healthy and clean foods with a good balance of carbs and protein.
Do you usually travel as a team or solo?
I will usually travel in a team or with other athletes as it always makes the long travel days easier and much more enjoyable.
Do you have any advice on how to eat healthily during long haul flights or long car drives to race destinations?
The best advice I could give would be to come prepared with your own food. There has been plenty of times I’ve been on planes and looked at the meal the steward puts before me and cringed! Thankfully I’ve learnt you’re much better off to have a plan B available in case you’re served a not so appetizing meal! It’s easy to grab a sandwich or salad from an airport café so that’s my go-to.
Once at your destination, how do manage day to day eating habits?
I generally play it very safe with what I eat prior to a race. This means in Asia I am consuming an ungodly amount of rice but I have had a couple of run ins with food poisoning in a foreign country after being a little too adventurous and like to think I’ve learnt my lesson! This also means that cooking facilities are definitely one of the first things I look for when booking accommodation! If I’m staying in a place for over 5 days I will always pay a little extra to be able to cook my own meals.
How do you manage racing in hot and humid destinations to avoid dehydration?
Racing in the heat and humidity is always challenging. I’ve learnt the value of hydration the hard way after racing myself onto an IV drip twice before, both before using Bindi thankfully! I’ve found that just taking in water is just not enough to hydrate effectively in the 2-3 days leading up to the race. I will usually drink water and Bindi sports nutrition in a ratio of 2-1. That means the day before an exceptionally hot/humid race I will try and get through about 5L of fluid, made up of 3.5L of water and 1.5L of Bindi.
During the race it’s equally important to get electrolytes in, so I always make sure to have a bottle of water as well as Bindi and am sipping frequently. I always try to get through the bottles even though I may not be thirsty, as often if you feel thirsty it’s already too late to get on top of your hydration.
Are you mindful of being at ‘race weight’?
Rather than having a specific ‘race weight’ we monitor our body composition through having our skinfolds tested regularly by an AIS dietitian. I have found that the amount of lean muscle mass I have is a better indicator of my readiness to race than a number on a scale.
What is your ‘go to’ pre-race meal?
My pre-race meal is always the same; four pieces of toast with plenty of Nutella! Feels a bit strange to be having a ‘breakfast’ style meal later in the day, with some of the ITU races I’ve done not starting until as late as 6pm, meaning it’s toast at 3pm!
Do you modify your meals leading up to a race?
Pre-race I try and slightly increase my carb intake through pastas, rice or pizza generally. If it’s a particularly hot or humid race I will also add some salt to my dinner the night before.
What is your favourite race or training destination?
My favourite race I’ve done to date would have to be the Mooloolaba World Cup – right here in Australia! The atmosphere was absolutely electric and a great course in an awesome location!
What would be your bucket list race or training destination?
A bucket list race for me would be Kona. It’s a long way down the track for me yet, but one day I would absolutely love to race on the Big Island!
Can we learn from any of your travel misadventures?
I’ve had so many mistakes travelling so far! Ranging from going to wrong gates in airports to broken bikes and incorrectly filled in paperwork! The biggest one would have to be on my second international trip I forgot to tighten a certain bolt in my saddle and when I went over a bump in the race I managed to smash the seat down and rode the following 15km (out of 20) out of the saddle!
What your be the best travel advice you could give?
The biggest one is to make sure you know how to pack your bike correctly. I’ve found you’re better off to go overboard on the padding front as some of the baggage handlers out there throw bike bags around without any thought of the cargo inside.