I've been meaning to write this post for a couple weeks now. Nutrition. The 4th sport. Anyone who has been doing endurance sports, particularly Ironman will agree. It's a never ending battle, or learning experience. You get advice, you give advice and you try all sorts of things out there. Everyone is different, and with all the gazillion products out there... we all have our preferences.
Here's some of my nutritional (or lack there of) history over the past several years...
For several years I did the same old thing. I started with marathon training so I was introduced to powergel. Vanilla specifically. It was the only flavor I seemed to be able to stomach so it was ALL I used. For an entire year. Let's just say it wasn't until 8 years later when I finally opened up another package of vanilla gel.
I used the typical rule of thumb for running. Lots of water, some gatorade & a gel every 45mins. I used that same methodology for years. Short races, long races... even up to half & full ironman distance.
I tried Accelorade while training for my first Ironman cause someone told me I should have protein. Let's just say the aftermath of a 5+hr ride after drinking that stuff did NOT go over well for either of the LaPans. And with that, we both went back to Gatorade. Flavors switched, but for the most part it's been my old reliable.
I did try some solid food here and there. Cliff bars (too hard to eat, dry & now I've heard horror stories about tummy problems), nutter butters. One day I even brought a half of a bagel because I had been getting so HUNGRY on the long bikes. It was so dry, I quickly gave up on that idea.
Salt is another big problem for me. I sweat, I sweat like crazy and it's crusty salty nasty salty sweat. For a while I was taking whatever salt pills Shane had, but as the heat got worse, I started getting these awful headaches. Finally, momo gave me a good old packet of salt, and instantly my headache went away. Later I found out Shane had purchases a different type of salt pills with about 1/3 the sodium. What can I say - my body likes salt!
So flash forward to a few years later and I'm back at the Ironman training again. I started adding Gu Chomps into the mix, which I really like... but as the training has increased I keep finding myself starving again. My crazy fast Utah girls Lindsay & Emily tell me about their riding adventures with snickers and beef jerky & potato chips. I decided once over the 3hr mark I was going to start mixing in more solids.
Just as I was having this "epiphany" my coach scheduled a call to talk to Shane & I about nutrition. She asked what we have been doing from breakfast onto the long rides. Lets just say she was less than pleased. I think the conversation went something like this...
C: "what is your breakfast"
S&K "PB toast"
S&K "It's too hot. and early."
C: "I know.. but that will not work. You need to try this and that and that and something about 25grams of protein."
The conversation continued this way while talking about our nutrition on the bike. Basically the consensus was we were to add a protein smoothie to our breakfast routine, and STOP with the gels on the bike (hallelujah!). She wanted us eating some form of solid food/bar for the first few hours on the bike, moving onto the jelly type stuff (chomps) and last resort a gel at the end. The idea is (tried and true by herself over several years of pro-racing and taking advice from other pros) you get as much in the stomach on the bike so you are fueled for the run.
Novel concept, huh?
So I've been trying the new found nutrition plan over the last couple of weeks & I think it's working. Last Saturday in Flagstaff I woke up had my PB toast, caffeine drink, and a naked juice plus ice & brown rice protein powder smoothie. I was miserably stuffed... but forced the food in like a good little girl.
In the first 3 hours I ate: 1 mojo bar, 1 snickers bar & half a bottle of EFS sports drink + 5 thermolytes. From 3-4hrs I ate a package (2 servings) of GU chomps + 1 more thermolyte and finished the EFS. At about 4:30 I used a gel to get me home.
I HAVE NEVER FELT BETTER. I got off the bike with energy, happy & not starving. I can't wait to keep using this new nutrition plan over the next few weeks and get it dialed in.
It's taken me years of not trying much of anything new, and paying for it in my races and training by getting so behind on calories, then eating (stuffing) when I've reached the big hole trying to climb back out. I feel like I'm finally, for the first time in a really good place.
I eat huge breakfasts with lots of protein (Eggs pretty much every day, followed by mid morning protein smoothie). I am grabbing healthy, more filling snacks - but not depriving myself of things I love. Yesterday, when I got home from my swim (had to run a couple errands after) all I wanted were chips. I know this happens to me often so I bought the single-serv multi pack of baked chips from costco. I grabbed the baked cheetos and instantly my craving was cured!
I also treat myself to some form of chocolate almost every night. Usually the mini dove dark chocolates do the trick.. sometimes dipped in PB :-)
I don't count calories. I don't always eat what I should. I eat sensibly and I don't diet. I've managed to loose some weight, and feel good and strong. I can't wait to see how this all turns out. I guess if I could give any advice (if anyone cares) after making so many mistakes in nutrition, it would be to listen to your body. It tells you what you want. Have good options around and don't try to limit your food when you are training this much...