Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Ironman Race Nutrition Plan

I want to share my race day nutrition plan.
Many people have helped me in the past and I'm now at the point where I don't have any stomach problems and my energy levels are great. We put too much time and energy into these races for them to be ruined by nutrition mistakes. So I wanted to share my wisdom!

I must emphasize that THIS IS WHAT I DO ONLY. I'm not suggesting to anyone to copy this plan. But if you're having problems, this might give you some ideas. I weigh 50kgs and although I don't look like a heavy sweater, from experience I know I loose a lot of electrolytes during races.

I've played around with different things over the 6 years, and 16 Ironman races that I've done. I've tried caffeine pills, amino acids, nuun plus different brands of gels, bars and electrolyte drinks.

I've had races ruined because of too many carbs, not enough electrolytes and too many things going in that I really didn't need. I've also had races where I've been in and out of the toilet along the way...

The best advice I can give from all of this is to KEEP IT SIMPLE!
The essentials for completing Ironman are CARBS, WATER and ELECTROLYTES and this is all you need.

Here is my plan for Ironman and Half Ironman.
It is pretty much the same plan for both races for me.
But with Ironman, you can afford less mistakes!

Race Nutrition starts 2 days prior to race day.

2 days prior is EAT DAY!

My favourite day. I eat a lot. It is too late now to be worrying about being race weight. It's now time to carb load.
I don't worry about reducing fiber intake. I want this food to be out of the system by race day!

Day before race.

Eat pretty much as normal. But I make sure that I am never hungry. I keep well hydrated but don't go nuts. I stay away from high fiber foods such as dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter and seeds. Breakfast would be the biggest meal of the day, and a moderate lunch and dinner. I don't eat a tonne at dinner like some people do.
I would have some low fiber fruits with brekkie- melon, peach, banana. And then snack on an apple mid morning, but then stay off the fruit after that.
A lunch favorite would be quiche with salad. Dinner staple would be rice with teryaki chicken with a few carrots, onions and mushrooms.(No high fiber greens, or brown rice)
This is day when I would snack on sports bars, since they are easily digested, and usually low fiber.
A new pre-race ritual has been ice cream! Its high calorie content is perfect!

Race Day

3 hours before race start;
2 x cans Ensure Plus.- you can get these from most drug stores or Safeway.
water if needed.

For the following couple of hours;
sip on water only

15 mins before to race start;
100 cals with 300mls water.- I use High5 E Source, a carb drink.

Onto the bike...

For the first 15 mins, water only.

From then on,
260 cals per hour
with 1 gram sodium per hour.

I'm pretty meticulous with my calculations. I don't trust scoops that say they are "20 grams" or whatever. I carry scales with me, and weigh all the amounts.

So my calories are all in carbs.
I use High5 E-Source that comes in a powder.
I carry one bidon with enough calories for the entire ride. I will divide the bidon using a black texter into hourly sections.
I have an aero drink bottle on the front of my bike.
I make sure that I squeeze in say half a section, and fill it up with 500mls water. 30 mins or so later I do the same thing again, and make sure I consume a "section" every hour.

Also in that bidon I have put all the extra electrolytes I need.
E-Source has electrolytes, but not enough for me. So I do my calculations and work out how many grams more of sodium I need to make up 1 gram per hour.
I use thermolytes or salt sticks.

So, all I need from aid stations is water.
I only use special needs for just in case. I don't put anything in there that I actually need. Its an emergency back up that I've never used!

Onto the run...

Around T2 and the first 10 mins of running HR is generally higher with adrenalin. So I won't put anything in until I have settled...

I alternate what I do at each aid station, since they are usually every mile, or 2 kms. I should be running at approx. 7 min mile, or 8.30 per 2 kms ish.

1st Aid station- Coke, water and 1 or 2 x electrolyte tablets. (300mgs sodium per tablet) At this point it depends slightly on the weather.

2nd Aid station- Half a High5 gel and water

and repeat, repeat, repeat!

So for me this works out at approx. 2 gels per hour, and 6-8 electrolyte tablets.(1.8 - 2.4gs sodium)
I would use the special needs on the run for half my gels, and spare electrolyte tablets.

I consume way fewer calories on the run since I have found that your stomach just can't cope with much. But you need more electrolytes since you sweat more. Advice and experience has proved that I work well with around 2gs sodium per hour on the run.

I have asked for advice from other Professionals over the years. Athletes who are experienced, yet have made their own mistakes along the way. It was a huge help for me.

I hope this is of help to someone out there!
If you want to try something different, try it in training, then if it works, in a B- priority race.

If any questions arise from this, I'll try to cover them for you.



Fernando said...

Very, very helpful! What would you suggest for a short distance triathlon race day? Say 750m swim/20km bike/5km run.


Charlotte said...

Hi Fernando.
For a sprint distance race I would still eat 3 hours prior to the race. To give it plenty of time to digest. Then water only.
Then 100 cals with 300mls water at 15 mins before race start.(e.g. one gel)

This is because having food in that pre race 3 hour period will cause an insulin spike, and subsequent low blood sugar, leaving you feeling lethargic at the start line.

Since a sprint race is so short, you could just have water only on the bike and run, with no need for any more calories.

If you think you need something, then I would have a sports drink on the bike.

No need for all the carb loading, just make sure that you're fueled up, and properly hydrated the day before.

I hope that helps.

Fernando said...

It worked! I took those two cans previously on a training day and decided to take on the race day. Just perfect!
And the 100cal+300ml of water did work as well! On the bike I had 500ml+Power Bar Endurance and on the run just a water sip. Great! Thank you for posting this wonderful nutrition tip and congrats for your latest result and for your husband too! ;)


Charlotte said...

Awesome, very glad to hear it worked!
Thanks for the congrats too.

Matt said...

What flavours of Ensure Plus are the most palatable IYHO? Cheers!

Charlotte said...

try them out in training to see which you like best. I think they're all fine- just depends on your personal taste! thanks