Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Ironman Learning Curve
There has been so much I have learned about being a triathlete. I really didn't think it would be that complicated but I was soooooooooooooo wrong. First thing I have learned is that your appetite goes THROUGH THE ROOF when training for this thing. I thought I would get pretty hungry after training for my marathons but my hunger now has gone to another level...another universe which I cannot describe. The first picture above is of me at a team breakfast we had about 3 weeks ago. I ordered the pancakes and my buddy Bobby left me his breakfast burrito plate because he had to leave early. I can't let good food go to waste so I was a good teammate and helped him out. BAM! I call this "Iron Hunger". If you hang out with me over the next 7 months....DO NOT leave food in front of me...it will be gone.
Ok...back to being serious now. I have also learned that nutrition for an Ironman is very important. Honestly, I've never taken my marathon nutrition super serious over the years. I just carbo load a few nights before the race, lots of water or Gatorade on race day and BAM...another marathon in the books. Heck, I've even been known to crack open a few beers the night before the race over the past few marathons...this is not what I'd recommend but remember--I am a running MACHINE...hahaha. Anyways, I cannot continue these habits for the Ironman. Our coaches gave us a nutrition clinic last weekend and I learned how important fluids and the proper amounts of carbs are needed to complete this race. A marathon only takes me about 4 to 5 hours but this Ironman will take me 13 to 16 hours so it is pretty obvious nutrition is going to play a huge role on race day.
Here is the "Iron Math" I learned:
For every hour of riding I do on the bike, I need to consume at least one 24oz bottle of fluid. And just filling my bottles with water or Gatorade is not enough. I need to consume a very specific amount of grams of carbs PER HOUR--for me that is specifically 72.7 grams of carbs. How did I come up with that figure you may ask? Coaches told us you need your body weight divided by 2.2 = grams of carbs per hour. For me...160 divided by 2.2 = 72.7 so let's just say 73 grams.
So what does this mean? How do I know I am actually consuming 73 grams of carbs every hour? Gatorade and water do not provide me enough carbs per bottle to reach this number so I have to use those powdered drink mixes. The one I like and the one I use is PowerBar Endurance Refuel mix. A picture of it is posted above. One scoop of Endurance in my water provides me 17 grams of carbs. For a 24oz bottle, Endurance recommends 3 scoops so that will give me 51 grams. But wait...I need 73 grams remember?? What about the remaining 22 grams I need? Just add another scoop of Endurance is what you might be thinking but that is WRONG WRONG WRONG. Just adding more powder to the same serving size will do no good. It will throw off the ratios and actually do your drink more harm than good. If you want to add a 4th scoop you would need a bigger bottle but I only have a 24 oz bottle. What is needed is more carbs so adding another supplement called Carbo Pro will do the trick. Carbo Pro is a flavorless powder that can be added to any drink. One scoop of Carbo Pro added to my 3 scoops of Endurance will get me to that 73 grams I need. BAM! For the 3 hour bike ride this past Saturday I just needed 3 24oz bottles of water with my Endurance and Carbo Pro mix and I am golden. Who knew Ironman training would be so complicated?!!?!?!?
But you also have to have FOOD sometime during your bike ride. The 112 mile bike ride on race day will take me somewhere around 7-8 hours. 8 bottles of fluid won't cut it. Our coaches told us to experiment at practice with whatever we want to munch on. Could be PowerBars, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, pretzels, or whatever it is that we are comfortable with that doesn't churn our stomachs during our rides. On Saturday I experimented with 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches tucked away in the back pockets of my jersey. During the 2nd hour of bike riding I pulled those puppies out and munched away with one hand while the other hand steered. They tasted like heaven but I have to admit they were kinda sticky to eat. I'm gonna test out PowerBars or some other kind of protein bar next week.
Lots of info huh? Yeah...that is what I thought when I heard the coaches. Bottom line, one bottle per hour of bike riding in addition to some type of food/solid scattered throughout your ride. And don't forget the magic number...73 GRAMS OF CARBS PER HOUR = IRONMAN CARLITOS!