New Year, New Nutrition….
Isn’t that how the saying goes? Or not, but that’s going to be my phrase for 2020. Race nutrition that is! After Chattanooga (well, probably more like around mile 60 of the bike at Chattanooga) I decided I was going to try a different nutrition strategy as it seemed like liquid nutrition just wasn’t working for me. Over the past couple of years I’ve started feeling nauseous about 2 hours into the bike during races (maybe earlier for shorter? Later in longer?) and was really having to force my liquid nutrition down. I chalked it up to heat, or pushing the effort too much, but after it happening in so many races, and differing distances (well just 70.3 and 140.6), I decided that it was more than a coincidence. After doing more digging, I realized the only run where my stomach hasn’t been crazy sloshy at the beginning was Louisville 2018 and that race I had to skip my Infinit on the bike and stick with random on course gels due to my frozen hands being unable to squeeze my water bottle with my Infinit. It was also a really cold race, so the temperature on the run could have played a factor in my pace being faster, and also my hydration needs were different than my other IM runs which had been in the heat, so maybe that wasn’t the key reason my run went well, but… maybe it was? I wasn’t sure what my strategy would be, but I knew I needed to switch it up.
The months went by, and I had the need to create a new nutrition plan in the back of my mind, but my runs and rides weren’t long enough to need to worry about nutrition, so it just wasn’t my focus or concern. However once January rolled around I thought, I better figure this chit out with St. George only four months away! I had been interested in reading ROAR by Stacie Simms, which discusses the female physiology in regards to food and fitness so I thought it would have some good suggestions for a different nutrition strategy. So I finally sat down and read it, and boy did I learn A LOT (and am still learning as I go back to certain chapters and taking more notes) and one thing it confirmed was that liquid nutrition was probably not my friend in long course triathlon. Her mantra is ‘hydration in the bottle, food in the pocket’, now the question was, what would be my in my pocket?
After doing more research I decided I would try Scratch Labs energy bars and Clif Chomps for nutrition on the bike and either Osmo or Nuun Endurance for my hydration. Stacie was originally with Osmo and was really pushing it in her book, but has since left the company and is now with Nuun and helped them develop Nuun Endurance. I ordered Osmo before realizing this and then later also ordered Nuun Endurance. I am going to try them both, they have pretty similar ingredients, but Nuun has 60 calories vs. Osmo which is 30. Oh, which also brings me to my calories on the bike, as I had previously been focused on getting in 300 cals/hr. I learned in ROAR that 300 is too high for me, and is probably part of the reason why I had issues with my liquid nutrition. So I’m also scaling back my calories on the bike closer to the number recommended by Stacie for my size, which is 180-200 cals/hr. So, lots of changes!
I’m still not sure what to do on the run since she also goes into why gels aren’t great for nutrition either, but running with sleeves of Clif chomps seems bulky to carry and tougher to be eating than just a gel every hour. I do love my Huma gels and they don’t contain some of the ingredients that Stacie mentions in her book that can cause GI distress, but the fact that it’s a gel and the osmality can still cause GI issues, and because I have those issues more often than not, it’s worth trying out the chews/blocks at least few times.
I also have changed up my pre and post training/race foods too! I’ve been trying to eat more before my workouts along with some protein (that’s totally new for me, I have never worried about protein pre race before) and also if I do an intense workout, I make sure I have at least 20g protein (if it’s not whey it needs to be closer to 25-30g) plus 5g of BCAAs within 30 minutes of my workout. So far so good! I have noticed that I have been recovering faster and not having the lingering soreness I usually do after a hard workout.
Note I haven’t tried the Osmo pre-load yet, since I haven’t had a big workout or race that I’ve felt I needed to pre-load some sodium because it’s the middle of the winter. However I am excited to try it, and if I like it I will probably stick with it regardless of using Osmo or Nuun Endurance for my race hydration.
On the training front, it’s business as usual, no changes there! Swimming 3x a week, building up my bike fitness (February is a bike focused block), and trying to build back my running base after the month I had to take off in November due to the hip flexor strain. Since my hip started to feel better in early December, I pulled the trigger and signed up for the Frostbite LONG series this year. Usually I do the short series, but with St. George at the beginning of May, I needed to start building up my long runs again and the Frostbite series was perfect timing and great motivation. The long series consists of a 12k, 10 mile, 20k, 13.1 mile and 15k. quite a change from the 3k, 2mile, 5k, 4 mile and 3 mile distances of the short!
I have been surprising myself with the paces I’ve been able to hold during the first four races (one left to go!) despite not being in top shape and coming back from an injury. In fact, I was on track for a very very mini PR for 13.1 last weekend, but the course was short and I finished with 13.07 on my watch, so I will never know if I could hold that pace for the extra .03 or so 🙂 But still, it was on a hillier course than my PR, and I had pretty strong even splits, and felt good after, so it was a victory in my book. My stomach was a little upset the rest of the day which might have been due to the gels I took (still working on implementing the Clif Blocks… ) but my legs didn’t really feel sore or tired after or the next day either. So I will say my pre and post nutrition strategy (along with training in general) is coming along nicely!
Ok, well that’s about it! One more race left in the Frostbite series, then back to focusing on training until the Go! Half at the end of March (which really will be more of a training day as IM is the focus and I won’t go into it tapered)….and then the big one, St. George at the end of May.
I will leave you with a picture of Penelope hanging out in bed while I read 🙂