Life Member of Food Writers New Zealand Award: Lea is honoured to receive a Life Member of Food Writers New Zealand Award in recognition of her work as an author and nutritionist in the realm of food communications. Read more »



Diet therapy

Food to Fuel the Speights Coast to Coast

The Coast to Coast is the world’s premier multi-sport event, the benchmark by which all other multi-sport events are judged, both here in New Zealand and overseas. Whether you are a novice or seasoned triathlete your nutrition plan could make or break your race.

Coast to Coast food and hydration

All those competing should read the excellent nutrition tips on the official Coast to Coast website and seek professional help if they have any concerns. In addition here is a check list of things you should also consider:

Plan your carbohydrate intake

Allow 1 g per kilogram of body weight per hour. But also be prepared to raise and lower your intake to match the intensity of effort you are experiencing.

Train well

Practice using the foods that you like well before the race and avoid introducing any new types of foods on the day of the race.

Plan your hydration according to sweat loss

If you have never done a sweat loss test then just weigh yourself before and after you train, but before you pee and the difference (excluding drinks along the way) represents how much you have lost in sweat. So if you weigh 1 kilogram less that represents 1 litre  of sweat lost.

If can be really useful to keep a diary of how much you lose under different climatic and geographic conditions. For instance biking into the wind, running along a riverbed etc. Record the conditions of the training day (your temperature, etc) and then on the day of the race you will have a better idea of how much fluid you may need.

Depending on your losses allow around 500ml — 1 litre /hr alternating between water, sports drinks and food every 15 minutes while biking. Food and drink stations will help you during the runs but you may have to become more creative during  the kayak section  to prevent dehydration.

Try a variety of sports drinks and/or  flavours to add interest on the day but choose drinks that have a similar carbohydrate concentration of around 4-8%.

Avoid over-hydration

An excess of fluids can cause hyponatraemia which will ruin your performance and can have dire health consequences.

Monitor signs of fatigue

A lack of iron results in fatigue and depression. Iron deficiency can be a major problem for athletes, particularly menstruating women, vegetarians and younger athletes. Iron is important for oxygenating red blood cells. Athletes who jog on a hard surface or are involved in contact sports need to be aware that the jarring action can cause red blood cells to breakdown increasing their iron losses and reducing performance. It is not too late to check out your iron status with your GP.

Also discuss with your doctor any sleep disturbance, flu symptoms muscle strains or signs of anxiety you may be experiencing.

Avoid alcohol

If you are serious about your performance then avoid alcohol in the weeks leading up to the Coast to Coast race. Alcohol remains in the blood stream for up to 48hrs altering strategic planning and time perception. For faster  recovery leave the celebrations until after you have had a 750ml bottle of sports drink and water at the finish line.

Runners Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can ruin a race and affects elite athletes up to 1.5-3 times more than non-recreational athletes. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain and urgency to defecate. Younger athletes are particularly vulnerable as they can easily become dehydrated if training at high intensity or suffering from anxiety. To prevent this they should monitor their fibre and fluid intake and  limit highly concentrated sports drinks and fruit juice. Avoid dehydration as this reduces blood flow to the gut and can exacerbate the GI symptoms.

Keep a Diary

In the week leading up to the Coast to Coast race record your food, fluids and time spent training along with comments about how you are feeling. Also record your meal plan for the race day, what you planned to eat when and where and then after the race jot down if this was varied at all and what you would change for next time. Although race conditions do change from year to year your confidence will grow along with experience and fitness. In time you will learn to trust your instincts and refueling plan.

If you would like a nutritional assessment to check your Coast to Coast race day strategy and practical solutions to manage any side effects related to your training then contact us.

Other articles of Lea’s that may be of interest:
Water intoxification
Iron makes us happy
Alcohol and sport
The gut-brain axis is important to sporting performance

About the author View all

Lea Stening

Lea is one of New Zealand’s leading paediatric dietitians and also specialises in Sports Nutrition. She has specialised in Paediatric Nutrition for 31 years and in 1985 was the first paediatric dietitian to enter private practice in New Zealand. Lea helps families through her private consultations, public lectures, newspaper and magazine articles as well as television and radio interviews. Read more »

View all posts by Lea Stening »


Leave a Reply

Showing 9 comments

Also in Diet Therapy View all »

Would you like to subscribe to our fantastic FREE monthly newsletter?

Each month we'll keep you up-to-date with the latest nutritional articles and healthy recipes from You are free to opt out at any time, but we think you'll enjoy what we've got in-store for you.

Plus as a bonus offer — subscribe today and receive FREE weight loss tips for two weeks! Learn how a number of foods, many one would consider 'healthy', may in fact be slowing your progress.


Yes please, it sounds great! (and it's FREE after all).



No thanks, I'm not interested (or I'm already a subscriber and really enjoying these fantastic newsletters!).