I've reached that point in Ironman training (I swear it gets earlier every time…) where I'm constantly hungry. I've finally learned in the past couple of years just how important nutrition is. I stopped thinking about exact ratios or math or crazy calculations of what I think my body needs. I've tried most methods of recovery drinks, high protein, blah blah…. But honestly, I just think everyone has to figure out what works for YOU, not what the latest fad is, for instance… It seems like lately everyone is scared of sugar. While I have given in to the latest craze and followed the advice of some of my friends who recently took a nutrition class, I just will never be someone who can follow a diet. I eat what I LIKE, I eat when I'm hungry and I really really really try to make good decisions, but I mostly never restrict everything, or don't let myself have something if I want it.
Let's not talk about that piece of chocolate cake I had Sunday night after my 17 mile run. #soworthit
Last year I learned how to properly fuel MY body on the bike so that I could RUN. Taking the advice of my BSC coach, (apparently ~20 years in the sport - you figure stuff out!) I learned that I have never ever ever ever fueled myself enough on the bike, and guess what? I ALWAYS HAD SHITTY runs.
Case in point: After about a month training with Michelle, and my first race was on the schedule, I wrote (first time ever) a race plan. She read it, and like the good little teacher she is (yes, I totally got RED highlighted corrections, er suggestions back) she made some edits. #1 take away was MORE FOOD. She told me she wanted me to have about 750 calories consumed on the bike. The plan for me that day was to be on the bike < 3 hours.
I force fed myself, not to the point of being uncomfortable, but definitely more than I would have done any other day. I got in just under 700 calories and then also had 3 gels on the run and guess what? I PR'd that race and had my best half IM run by 10minutes.
I followed the eat more plan and eventually got used to it. My bike rides got stronger and I recovered faster for the next days work (and no I did not gain any weight). Unfortunately, at IMCDA my stomach had shut down after the freezing cold swim and I only got in about 2/3 my planned calories leaving me in a horrible deficit on the run, turned dry-heave fest and a lot of walking….
Anyhow…. This year I've made a lot of other changes. While my husband has been trying to work off the 25lbs he put on by
drinking beer recovering from injury, I was working on trying to have the best solutions in the house for him to do so. Nuts, Cheese, tons of veggies & fruit. Basically a lot of real food, vs quick easy options for him to grab when he's hungry and in a hurry. I changed our dinners a bit and instead of always having a grain (My staple is a 3 section meal; protein, veggie, grain or carb). I added quinoa for extra fuel instead of sweet potatoes or any sort of pasta or other starchy grain.
Slowly but surely the weight came off, and we both started feeling so much better! I added juicing in the mix to build our immune systems (sick of being SICK) and I feel like we are both in the best healthy state going into our last 3 months of Ironman build!
The one thing I seem to be missing is my recovery food after these crazy long workouts. I've tried them all, but my stomach disagrees with most of them. I gave up on typical recovery drinks years ago when 99% of them having whey protein in them cause allergic reactions and me fighting my throat closing up and throwing it up. I got used to making sure I made my perfect smoothie recipe (brown rice protein, rice milk & pb, or eggs right after my key workouts and it worked.
That is until recently. There is a product, VEGA, that I've read about numerous times on Hillary Biscay's blog. While I'm not a vegan, and don't follow a gluten free diet in the least, I have found that plant based foods and my body agree with each other the best! I can't tell you how many times I've looked on line at the products, but never ordered honestly, because of the price. I did however pick of the "Shake and go" smoothie a while ago to give me a little pick me up after swimming so I didn't have an epic bonk before I got home. I liked the flavor, it brought me back to life after my hard swims and allowed me to get home and make a reasonable meal vs shoving whatever I could quickly get into my belly!
Another thing I really liked is that it's not a heavy drink, or a meal replacement. It's only ~90 calories, 10g of plant based protein and also has 2 servings of veggies. Add one scoop to a glass of water and done! Much better than downing yet another power bar! Unfortunately, I kinda forgot about this product until recently. I don't know if I got lazy, or cheap but I'm back with it and the name has actually changed to Vega Energizing Smoothie. It's quick, easy, and best of all it TASTES good!
There is another product Vega makes called Vega One While, I've tried it and liked it, I haven't been using it on a regular basis because I'm so in love with the next product I'll go over below. So, the combined protein I'm already getting along with my juicing (saved for another post) I feel like I'm getting a whole lot of what I need already and it doesn't need to be subsidized. That said, the next time I travel, Vega One is going to be in my bag for sure. In addition to the protein what attracts me to it most are the added vitamins & minerals, greens and probiotics. I know that no matter how hard I try when traveling, I never feel as good as I do at home on my regular eating and sleeping routine. I can't wait to see what a difference this product makes!
I've saved the best for last. My new super post workout fuel is from Vega's sport line. While they have a ton of products in the sport line and I had a wonderful rep give me samples to try out, this one stands out above them all! I have to thank my friend Jen, a loyal Vega user for the sample she gave me after a heat/sweat fest long run in Mexico last month. After sweating out enough water weight that I may have PR'd my long run weight loss (kidding!), she gave me a serving of Vega's Sport Performance Protein. Overheated, low on calories, dehydrated and just maybe a little bit hungover this drink brought me back to life. I felt amazing the rest of the day and woke up the next day not sore, or feeling any sort of fatigue from the run.
I was SOLD.
I don't typically follow what people are doing with fuel. I eat and drink what I like, and what my body craves. I don't restrict on much of anything (although I probably should) and I don't take my diet all that seriously (my family might have a different story on that - but anyone who knows me well, knows better!). What I DO follow is what works, works. Tried and True, this product is awesome! I just wish I had found it earlier…For years I wish I could down Ultragen or Endurox, chocolate milk or whatever else everyone was always raving about for recovery, but the simple fact was my body couldn't handle it, but now I've got my magic little potion!
As always, I love to share my favorites, so I couldn't wait to write this post!