Friday, July 6, 2012

Ironman (France) Nutrition Report

Okay, last year I had a lot of stomach issues on the run. I just couldn't get the nutrition thing right. This year, I've seen some big improvements in this department and thus far, have felt pretty good in all of my races.

I made a decision in 2012 to not seek a nutrition sponsor until I was sure I knew what was helping and hurting me. (So I actually paid for everything I ate and am not writing this because I have to). For me, the most important thing is performance, and if that means no nutrition sponsor until I've got my ish sorted, then that's how it is. By taking this approach, I've found an approach this year that works really nicely for me in half ironman and ironman distance racing. The basic premise is this:
Bottles of drink without a ton of calories (Skratch labs @ 80 calories per bottle) supplemented with solid food (loving NOW Energy bars but they are hard to find, bonk breakers, and the occasional clif bar). After I get some solids in, I add in some Gu chomps or other gummy things or some gels. So far, so good- and I've raced a ton this year with no issues... 

layin' it out for IM France. Added a couple things after this photo...
Other Changes this year:
1) 2 weeks out from a big race, I start a gluten and dairy free diet. One week out, I actually stick to it ;) . I don't feel that gluten and dairy impact me on a daily basis, but from the research I've done, there is reason enough to suppose that they could be contributing to inflammation and making it more difficult for my body to do overdrive on digestion on race day.
2) New pre-race breakfast. Last year, I went the oatmeal route. Maybe this was too much fiber or too slowly digested, I'm not sure or maybe it just didn't sit well on race day. This year, I go with gluten free toast with almond butter & a banana. In france, GF toast wasn't available to me, so I tried corn flakes with soymilk- worked well. I know cornflakes have a very high glycemic index, so they are quickly processed and not weighing me down at the race start. I eat my race breakfast 2 hours ahead.
3) Mix it up on the bike. I started using a variety of brands and mix of sources (drink, gels, bars) to get different kinds of sugars. Many sports nutrition brands use the same type of sugars in their full range of products. By getting calories from all over the place, I don't know, but my body seems to like the variety and may be able to absorb more than if just given one or two kinds of sugar. .

Here's what I did for Ironman France...

Breakfast: 2 huge bowls of cornflakes & soymilk. 1 banana. 1 rice cake with almond butter.
Pre Race: Sipped on a bottle of MRM Hydration Factor.
Swim: none, I'm swimming, d'uh

I tried to eat 'something' every 30 minutes (1/2 a bar, 1 gu, etc)
2 bottles of Skratchlabs drink (160 calories). After these, I drank only water from the course as other drinks are pretty touch and go with my stomach.
1 NOW Honeycomb w. chia & raisins (280 calories)
1 Fig Bonk Breaker (220 calories)
1 pack watermelon Gu Chomps (190 calories)
3 Gus (2 Jet Blackberry, 1 Peanut Butter (300 calories)
1 Pack Powerbar cola gel blasts (190 calories)
1/2 Flask of EFS Kona-Mocha (200 ish calories)

that's 1450+ calories I consumed on the bike... I always prepare for about 1800 calories knowing I'll probably be able to shove about 1500 in...


1 pack of Orange Gu chomps (190 calories)
2 Gu Jet Blackberry (200 calories)
LOTS of cola starting at mile 8 let's say 40 calories per aid station times 11 aid stations (440? I think that's a  little high estimate...)
2 orange slices (40 calories)
Water water water

Thats about 900 calories on the run....Not sure if that's really a valid estimate though...Any suggestions on what others aim for on the Ironman run?

Post race? Well, when in France......

What works for you in Ironman nutrition? Do you have any lesser-known favorite products?


Molly said...

This is really helpful! So you don't find that the fiber in the solids (I looked up the #s and there seemed to be quite a bit in some of those bars) wreaks havoc with your stomach on the run?

Kim said...

Im always so curious to read other triathletes nutrition plan. Me, i am strictly an endurance drinker with straw banana gels on bike and straw banana gels on run. 12 hrs of the same stuff. Oh, i did take 1 choco gu on the coz course but thats all the variation for me.

Kristin said...

I loved using Strawberry Pertpetuem and using Gels on the bike and powerbar. I actually took in about 2200 calories on the bike with no issues. I did pretty much half of this on the run changing to Heed and gels, coke halfway on. you are definately along faster than me so you probably didnt need as much!!!

The Mommy said...

I'm not a triathlete, half marathon is my drug of choice, but have you tried Vega products? They were developed by Brendan Brazier, he's a former pro-Ironman triathlete so he knows what is required of the body out there on the course.

Vega products are dairy, gluten and soy free, and contain no artificial flavours, colours or sweeteners. They're really yummy too! I'm a huge fan of the Vega protein and recovery drink powders, but they have a whole line of fuel products (pre, during, post). Not nuts about their gels so I go with Gu or Clif brands there.

No, I don't work for Vega, but thought I'd offer this up as a suggestion since I really believe in the whole foods plant-based program that they're built on.

Tracey Locher said...

Although I am only at an international distance, I love reading your advice. My nutrition and hydration plan is basic compared to yours. I've learned a lot from your posts... shoot... I just learned that you can lick the Cliff Shock Blocks and adhere them to your bike frame... I thought that was brilliant... like I said, I'm basic at the moment! :-) Keep the advice coming!

Tawnee Prazak, M.S., CSCS said...

I'm all for Skratch Labs!!!

Bikes & Clothes said...

Pringles in the little plastic cups for the bike. Added sodium plus they are starchy. Just a thought...

Princess in Training said...

I also really like the Vega products especially their recovery drink ->

Has anyone tried pocket fuel? it's amazing when trying to get in lots of calories via real food ->

GoBigGreen said...

Beth i used to do oats,not quick oats, but real oats before a tri and i agree i think they were too dense. I am now doing a liquid smoothie with banana, blueberry and some powders ( protein etc.) in there and that sits super well. I do mostly water and mostly gels, cant do the bars as Molly said.

Darin Hunter said...

Hey Beth, there is one thing I think you've done that have really helped you this year and a couple I think you could do that would help; 1. Eat your pre-race breakfest a couple hours before the event. This helps you digest in plenty of time before the race and allows your body time to 'purge' when the adrenaline starts going.

2. Focus on low-glycemic foods/drinks on the bike. When your heart rate is a little lower on the bike your body can absorb more long-chain sugars like maltodextrin, focus on drinks with malto- I have a buddy of mine buy a 50kg box of malto and we split it among 5 of us for the year. It's only $60 and is the same ingredient in Gu. Add 4 scoops of malto, 2 scoops of Gu, and 2 salt tabs and you have an easily digestable 200 calorie drink with plenty of sodium. I've never bonked or had digestive issues using malto-Gu mix on the bike, either in training or racing plus you're not trying to choke down a cliff bar when you're pushing hard on the bike.

3. Focus on shorter-chain sugars on the run. When your heart rate is a lot higher running you have to get a quick and easy source of energy and that's when coke becomes the miracle drink. If you are a heavy sweater like me you need to keep the salt tabs going but I just do water-coke when running and it works perfectly.

Good luck for the rest of the season, looking forward to hearing how it goes.

Radhika Ganesh said...

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