Fran and I met with nutritionist, Justin Roberts for dinner who helps endurance athletes with their nutrition.
He kindly agreed to meet with us and talk about ironman training and the key component of a good nutritional regime. The main elements of the discussion have been caught on video and will be posted on the Physical Edge youtube site.
I realised after talking to Justin that it is important to come up with my own strategy. I can get the most important principles from him but then it is a trial and error method of testing to see what suits my body over longer training sessions. The more I practice and test different nutritional options when exercising for 6-8 hours the better I can find out what my body can tolerate on the day of the ironman.
If I avoid testing my bodies ability to digest different food sources I can end up in trouble on race day. On race day I am exercising alot longer than I would in training and it is a slight unknown as to how my body will actually fear over that time. Ultimately, no matter how much food I eat on the day I will end up depleted of carbohydrates and will be dehydrated. This is because it is difficult to eat and drink the amount of food and fluid as I race. Justin recalled the two ironman events he has done and in both he has ended on a drip because he was dehydrated despite drinking regularly.
Justin divided my nutrition into stages. The first is the health stage and it is the time when I am to get into good habits to maximise my health. I am to eat small meals 6-10 times a day and avoid eating carbohydrates after 3pm. I am to eat dense strong coloured vegetables and get in whole foods. When I asked him about protein he recalled how difficult it was for him to eat the correct the amount of protein his body needed and sometimes protein shakes can help. I asked if I needed to measure and be exact with the amount of carbohydrates and protein I was eating. He said I needed to listen to my body and over time work it out.
Justin mentioned supplementation was additional. He recommended I get myself into a good diet with whole foods at the moment. He wanted me to get my sleep patterns correct and make sure I drink up to 3 litres of water day. Apparently my body must get used to consuming more water. I will pee alot at the start but then I will get used to storing water in my body. If I drink more I will have better concentration and energy and my body will perform better.
The health phase is to take the next 2-3 months and then we start looking at nutrition for training. I am to go and try three brands of carbohydrate and electrolyte products before the base training phase. He suggested I drink every 20 minutes at work and see how my stomach handles which the product the best over a whole day.
A strategy he uses on race day is to have a bottle of concentrated carbohydrate and then two bottles of water. He knows how much he wants to drink from the concentrated carbohydrate bottle each 20 minutes and then how much water he must take in to maintain a concentration of 4%. He recommended a lower concentration rather than higher concentration of carbohydrate as the body can have problems digesting higher concentrations in Ironman events. On hot days he advised taking on more water.
I am to take a diary of what I eat in one day over the next month and then we will be meeting again to discuss how I am doing. If I summarise what I am going to do in my health phase it would be; buy a new mattress to help me sleep better, take Monavie for antioxidants (I will get Justins advise on this), take Udos oild for Omega 3,6,9, take multivitamins, eat every 2 hours and avoid carbs after 3pm, get a better sleep pattern, eat whole foods, cut out alcohol and chocolate and unhealthy foods, drink 3 litres of water a day with lemon in it, try nutritional supplements.
Justin did say stick to healthy eating 90% of the time. 10% of the time I can eat what I like. He is realistic about eating and thinks the body can cope with some unhealthy food with no effect on performance. Putting this into practice now takes discipline. I am interested to see how my body likes the change. My objective is to find what I like and what supports me in my training. This will take time out of my day to prepare food but it is the commitment I make in taking on this ironman.
Thanks to Justin for his advice as without good nutrition the Ironman would be much harder. Justin said I would get around the Ironman course it is how well do I want to do it?