There is no denying that an Ironman is a long race. 140.6 miles long to be exact. How you fuel your body during those miles is a crucial part of getting to the finish line. This post takes a look at my personal nutrition needs (which I have not yet totally figured out) based on my height, weight, heart rate and other factors.
I had a serious nutrition fail that forced me to walk the whole half marathon of Eagleman 70.3
and I have had a few fails during training which has made me cut rides and runs short. It is time to get serious about what my body needs to keep it going for almost 17 hours. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
I am just over 5 feet tall, I weigh 116-118 lbs on a daily basis, I have a very high heart rate and a very sensitive stomach. All factors that I need to take into consideration for my nutrition plan.
My weight plays an important part in figuring out how much liquid I need to take in during a training session or race. You should be able to weigh yourself before your workout and after your workout and if you hydrated well enough you should be within a pound or two of your starting weight. Ready for some kindof scary facts? I did such a poor job of hydrating at Eagleman that when I weighed myself several hours after the race (after eating a huge meal, ice cream, and almost a gallon of water) I weighed 106 pounds. That is a loss of over 10 pounds. Holy moly. No wonder why a few co-workers told me on Monday that I looked “frail”.
My high heart rate is due to my heart having a small left ventricle. Phil likes to joke that I have a bird heart and I am not capable of loving. I promise I am capable of loving. The left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood into the aorta and through the body. My little birdie heart has to pump harder to get the blood flowing. This means my Zone 2 is in the 160s and my VO2 max is over 200. Due to my heart rate being very hummingbird-esque, I have to keep a careful eye on it. It flutters from Z1 to Z3 very easily. (Don’t worry, I have had it checked- I am healthy!) If you are in a high HR zone for an extended period of time, your muscles use all of the blood that your heart is sending through your body and not enough blood is flowing to your stomach which can lead to a total GI system shut down. I would like to try to avoid that.
|my bird heart flutters
My stomach is super sensitive when it comes to the typical “race nutrition”. I can only stomach certain flavors of Gu, certain textures of gummy electrolytes, and I have to wait atleast an hour after waking up to eat or else I feel sick. And if I am nervous at all I can barely choke down food. The morning of Eagleman, I threw up half a bagel due to nerves while the National Anthem was playing. I love America.
So what now? I need to be able to eat before Ironman even with a nervous stomach, I need to keep my HR down to keep my stomach working, I need to eat things that wont upset my stomach, and I need to hydrate enough that I dont lose 20 pounds in a day. All of these items are crucial to getting Bib 137
to the finish line on my own two feet and not in an ambulance.
Let’s add another wrench to the already complicated nutrition plan- Ironman Cozumel is going to be offering water and Gatorade as the hydration on course. I usually use EFS
as my sports drink because it sits well in my stomach and has a high salt content. As of this weekend, I am kissing EFS goodbye and practicing with water, Gatorade and salt supplements. Good thing I stocked up on these babies
So now- from this day forward- I will strategically plan my long bike and run nutrition. I am going to keep a diary of my before weight, my after weight, how much liquid I took in, how many calories I consumed, how much salt I took in, and how my stomach and my body feels after the workout and adjust accordingly.
After working with Melissa Dalio of Endura Coaching on my nutrition issues she helped me identify a good starting point for calories per hour (I burn 400 calories an hour in Zone 2!), salt per hour, sugar per hour, carbs per hours, ect. I am going to document my nutrition experimentation on the blog starting with my 12 mile run and 80 mile ride this weekend. I think there is going to have to be some tweaks depending on how I feel this weekend but I am confident that if I write out a plan and follow it and document the results, I will be able to find my optimal nutrition strategy come Ironman in November.
Excuse me, my type A personality is showing.
For all those experienced Ironmen out there…advice is welcome!