I received a nutrition consultation about a month ago and wrote about that here. Part of the consultation was to get a nutrition plan for my Ironman training. There were a lot of things I was doing well, and a few things I was doing not very well. My main issue was that I was not recovering properly after workouts longer than 45 minutes. I also was not fueling properly on the bike (i.e. just drinking water & not taking in enough carbohydrates. Here is a little update as to how things are going:
Fueling on the bike:
I have noticed a big difference with how I feel after making the changes. When I ride for longer than 45 minutes (which is most often the case), I drink PowerBar Perform (which is used on the Ironman course) mixed with water. I use 2-3 scoops of perform depending on the size of the water bottle. The goal is to drink at least 1 bottle of perform every hour while on the bike. Drinking Perform has been going really well. I have noticed that I have a lot more energy on the bike and I’m not ‘hitting the wall’ after a few hours like I used to. At first I thought it tasted really sweet, but now I am used to it. On top of drinking the perform, I’m eating 3 Clif Shot Blocks or Power Bar Gels every 45 minutes. I make an effort to stay on top of these few things and it has helped me substantially. It makes me wonder how I ever got by with just drinking water! I used to think about how it was wayyy too much sugar when consuming all of these gels and drinks… now I have realized that my muscles NEED the sugar. Sugar is critical for performance.
Post workout fuel:
Still working on this new change. I tend to do my workouts in the early morning hours or after work. A few days a week I do both morning and evening workouts. For the morning workouts, I typically will have a few Clif Shot blocks before getting on the bike, starting a run, or getting in the pool. One important thing I learned was not to eat anything high in fat or fiber too closely before a workout, this will prevent GI stress. During a training session, I fuel as mentioned above, with Perform and gels… and after I need to eat/drink something for recovery. It’s the recovery fueling that I have not grasped quite yet. I have never been a person to drink a protein shake or recovery drink after a workout. I tend to gravitate more towards a banana with peanut butter, or a granola bar for example.
What my nutritionist explained to me is, that its always best to think about this period of the day (i.e. in the morning post training session) in terms of what is most critical immediately post work. This means, immediately after your session the focus should be on high glycemic carbs to replace muscle glycogen and easily digested. You always want to stay away from significant sources of fat of fiber since these slow down digestion….not what you want here! You want to get blood sugar up fast! If you do not eat or drink the right things soon after your workout, the window of opportunity will close and it will take you much longer to replenish glycogen stores and other nutrients. This will dramatically increase the time it takes for you to recover from that workout, decrease the performance benefit of the workout, and affect your next workouts. The more recovery time between workouts, the fewer workouts you can do in a period of time. Fewer and lower quality workouts means less opportunity for fitness gains and slower race times. This is why post workout/race nutrition is so important.
The problem is, I am a wimp when it comes to drinking these type of recovery drinks. Most of the drinks, in my opinion, have an unnatural texture and an odd flavor. They also tend to have a protein source, like whey or pea protein, both of which I think taste disgusting. I know these types of things are an ‘acquired’ taste… but personally, I gag when I try to drink them. My husband tells me to just drink them really fast, but I can’t even do that much! I just ordered a few different drinks (Ultragen and Osmo Nutrition recovery drinks) and I will report back on how they taste, my reaction, etc… If you have any recommendations as to what has worked for you, please let me know!
What have you done for training nutrition/race day nutrition that worked? What didn’t work?