303Beginner Tri Project – Hydration & Fueling 101

by Alison Freeman


You may or may not have given much thought to hydration and fueling (also known as water and food) during your training up to now. That’s ok! For short-course racing – sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons – faking it often can work just fine in training. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with having a little knowledge to fuel your fueling (hahaha) and on race day the knowledge will really come in handy.



You’ve got lots of options when it comes to hydration and fueling:

Water. Duh. That’s hydration.


Gels, blocks, chews, and waffles. Things like Gu Energy Gels, Gu Chomps, Clif Shot Energy Gels, Clif Shot Bloks, Honey Stinger Energy Chews, Honey Stinger Waffles, and Gatorade Energy Chews are very popular fueling sources for triathletes. They are all easily digestible sources of quick fuel for your muscles – and are really tasty to boot! No one option is better than the other, it’s really just a matter of personal preference. So grab a smorgasbord of types and flavors and see what you like.


Real food. Yup, you can also just use actual food as fuel, but it requires a little more research on your part. You’re looking for food that’s easily transportable, has lots of sugar – but very little fat or protein. Believe it or not, baby food “squeezers” are a popular choice which fits that bill. Personally, I like my frosting packets and gummy bears – I mean, Energy Gels and Shot Bloks – so I just stick with those.



Electrolytes. Also knows as: sodium. Yes, you do need to think about this as well, particularly on hot days and longer workouts. Sodium is not typically found in gels, blocks, etc and is often in low supply in real food, so you’ll want to supplement with something like BASE Salt, Boulder Salt, SaltStick, Enduralytes, or Nuun.


Sports drinks. All this sounding really complicated? Here’s some good news: you can get hydration, fueling, and electrolytes all in a single bottle of your sports drink of choice. There are lots of choices out there: Gatorade and Gatorade Endurance, Infinit Speed, Heed, Skratch, CarboPro, and Tailwind, to name a few. So, just as with the gels, blocks, chews, and waffles, grab a few sample-size options and see what you like.




Here are some rules of thumb to help you understand when to pay attention to hydration and fueling, and when you can really just fake it:

Before your workout, it’s helpful to have some food (fuel). If you train immediately after you wake up, a gel packet or something along those lines will help get you out the door. If you train later in the day, your normal meals should do just fine. Keep in mind that some foods will sit heavier in your stomach, particularly for running, so maybe don’t have a giant burrito and then knock out a tough run. I’d wait at least an hour after a meal to train, and two to three hours is even better.

For workouts under 60 minutes, you’re fine with just some water (in other words: faking it).

For workouts 60 minutes or longer, you’ll want to get your fuel and hydration going (food and water). You want to aim for one standard bike water bottle (20-24 oz) per hour for hydration. If your fueling source is liquid, that counts as your hydration too. Bonus! If you are going with gel, blocks, or a food-based fuel source, shoot for 250-300 calories per hour on the bike (especially if you are running after!) and up to 200 calories per hour on the run. In terms of electrolytes (sodium), individual needs vary widely, from 300-400mg per hour to upwards of 1500mg per hour; for short-course racing, default somewhere in the 300-600mg per hour range and/or whatever is in your sports drink.



On the bike, you can bring a bottle or two depending on how many bottle cages you have on your bike frame. I recommend a bottle of water and a bottle of sports drink if you have two cages. If you don’t have a cage on your bike, go get one now. You really, really need to be able to carry at least a water bottle while you ride.

As for bringing along gels, waffles, real food, and/or salt supplements, you can plan to stow them in your bike jersey or tri top pockets (yup, that’s what they’re there for) or you can rig your bike with a “bento box” – a little storage compartment that you strap to the top of your frame, right behind the bars – and stow all your fueling in there.


On the run, it’s simplest to just use what they have at the aid stations – water and Gatorade, typically. If you’ve gotten in the correct amount of water, fueling, and electrolytes on the bike then you don’t need to worry to much about quantities for a 5k run. If you do want to bring some water along, perhaps on a really hot day, then I recommend a handheld water bottle. It doesn’t matter if the bottle is small, because you can refill it at the aid stations, and as a bonus most handheld bottles have small zippered pockets where you can store gels or other fueling.



Be sure to practice your fueling and hydration plan during training! That way you know whether it’s easy or hard to suck down a gel while cycling, if you are able to reach that second water bottle, and if you’re still thirsty after drinking 20 ounces of water in 30 minutes or if you finish your ride and your sports drink bottle is still half full.

Try out different things in training, find a system that works, and then race like you train. Because, above all: nothing new on race day!

Triathlon season? Bring the kids!

BRINGtheKIDZ is blazing the trail for child care at YOUR next event!

Content sponsored by BRINGtheKIDZ


Picture it: It’s the morning of your first (or second, or fiftieth…) Olympic distance triathlon. You (and possibly also your partner) have been training for months, sacrificing your time, adjusting your diet, juggling your schedule, all for this goal. You wake up and wait for the babysitter to arrive so you can get to transition to set up. You wait. And wait. And wait. Texts go unanswered. Transition is opening. The babysitter is not coming. Now what??

Colorado mom, runner, and triathlon-dabbler Michelle Kalinski had faced this scenario too many times and decided to find a solution. In 2014, she founded PRKids (now called BRINGtheKIDZ) a Boulder-based company whose mission is to provide worry-free, on-site race day childcare so that you will not find yourself in that position!


With two children under the age of three, Kalinski was tired of switching off races with her husband. She desperately needed both training goals to motivate her and quality child care at the crack of dawn on weekends. She searched for a race that offered child care onsite, but came up empty.  This was surprising, considering that according to Running USA and USA Triathlon, participation in running and triathlon has grown rapidly over the last decade, especially for females. A 2009 study even revealed that 44% of “average” triathletes in the US have children at home. That is a lot of early-morning child care juggling!


After discussing the issue with numerous parent-athletes, Kalinski decided to fill this need and set in motion the creation of PRKids, a child care company that works with and for families on race morning (You can read more about the backstory on our blog). After wading through far more bureaucracy than anticipated, PRKids launched in September 2015 at the Boulder Backroads Marathon, and, at the time of this writing (March 2017) has provided services at 28 events in Colorado, with 15 events currently on the calendar for 2017. This year, we are excited to have added a number of new events, including eight triathlons!


05/29/2017         BolderBoulder

06/03/2017         Colorado Triathlon

06/04/2017         Boulder Rez Half Marathon 

06/24/2017         TriBella Sprint Triathlon

06/25/2017         Boulder Sunrise Triathlon

07/09/2017         Boulder Peak Triathlon

07/23/2017         Tri Boulder

07/30/2017         Outdoor Divas Triathlon

08/26/2017         Boulder Sunset Triathlon

09/04/2017         FORTitude 10k

09/17/2017         5430 Triathlon

10/01/2017         Boulder Backroads Marathon 

10/08/2017         Boulder Rez Marathon

10/28/2017         Monster Dash

11/18/2017         Pumpkin Pie 5k/10k

How it works:
Advance registration is required so that we can plan for staffing and supplies, and families with more than one child will normally pay half price for each child after the first. Pricing varies based on race distance.

– BRINGtheKIDZ (formerly PRKids) sets up onsite at the event and typically opens check-in an hour before the first start time to allow parent-athletes plenty of time to get set up and wait in the porta-potty line before the starting gun goes off. Children are signed in and parents and kids are issued matching wristbands to facilitate pickup.

– Children are welcomed with a warm-up activity and are led through a series of fun age and developmentally-appropriate activities until parents check them out at the end of the event. See some photos of our fun HERE.

– The pickup window is generous, allowing parents to take their time during and after the race, and often arrangements can be made in advance in situations where an athlete needs a bit of extra time.

The most amazing part is that everyone involved benefits from onsite race childcare. Parents do not have to worry about last-minute sitter cancellations or no-shows, or feel guilty about leaving the kids behind for the day (or simply miss them!). Children get to spend time “in the action” at the race, seeing their parents achieve the goals they have long trained for and cheering them over the finish line, as well as having lots of fun with new friends and BRRINGtheKIDZ staff. And since more couples will be able to participate in races together instead of switching off and competing only one at a time due to child care concerns, event organizers can benefit from increased registrations. Win-win-win!


For 2017, BRINGtheKIDZ has unveiled a number of new features, including a new name (that’s a big one!), an ambassador program, a blog, a newsletter, and a new website that is currently in development. We are growing fast and are so excited to be a part of this community and to allow families to pursue their goals while still spending the day together!



If we haven’t already convinced you of how awesome BRINGtheKIDZ is, here is what some of our customers have told us:

  • “My son was a little shy at first but when I picked him up he said he wanted to go back every time I run. We cannot wait until next time.” – M.G. (Pumpkin Pie 2015)


  • “Michelle and the PRKids crew are awesome!  They always have plenty of fun things planned for the kiddos to do from art projects to active games to cheering on the runners.  My daughter loves PRKids camps!” – E.M.(Kooky Spooky 2015)


  • “PRKids watched my 7 year old son at Boulder Sunset Tri.  I took longer than expected, and they kept him past time with no complaints or issues.  I took both my kids (ages 4 and 7) to PRKids at the Pumpkin Pie 5k.  It was great because I got to race with my husband.  My daughter got a face painting and declared it the best day ever!” – J.K. (Boulder Sunset Tri 2016)


  • “My two children had such a great time at the Pumpkin Pie 5k/10k kids camp. They both met friends to play with during the camp. My son is 9 and my daughter is 6. They enjoyed face painting, crafts, games and snacks. They said they couldn’t wait to do it again.” – J.G. (Pumpkin Pie 2016)

We hope you will join us this season. Stay connected to us on Facebook (/bringthekidz) and Instagram (@bringthekidz), and subscribe to our newsletter!