A huge thanks to Lorie Tucker for featuring our nutrition journey together in her recent blog post (see exert below)! She uses her blog to share triathlon tips as a USAT coach for more efficient swimming, more powerful cycling, and faster running. http://dreambig-lorie.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The Not-So-Secret Secret
It's time to preach the good word of nutrition.
"My Ironman last week was ONE HOUR ahead of my goal time. ONE HOUR! I couldn't believe it when I crossed the Ironman Maryland finish line in 11:18. That included a five-minute penalty for not passing quickly enough (what?), crazy circling and treacherous winds, and a shorted swim by 800 meters -- so we'll call this 140.1 just to be accurate. (But those winds made up for any gains on the swim, you can be sure.) This was Ironman number five for me -- so what did I do differently? How did I improve so much after a two year hiatus and two year age-up?
It all started last January, after signing up for Ironman Maryland. I wanted to do a strong race that met or possibly surpassed my previous PR of 12:15. So I formulated a training plan -- that's my job. But I also hired my associate, Katie Rhodes, a registered dietician. Katie and I had worked together at Sigma Human Performance and I was ready to put her skills to the test.
The first step in my journey was to get a metabolic test. With this test information, I was given training zones which told me when my body was burning fat versus carbs. This was invaluable information when it came time to base train in fat burning zones, build in sub-lactate zones and then peak into my fast and intense sessions at anaerobic capacity. My plan was based on three week builds with one week recoveries.
Secondly, Katie and I met and we discussed my goals and desires with this race. She would email me weekly meal plans that included my diet, my grocery list, and the percentage of carbs, fat or protein for each meal. I quickly realized I had been eating too many carbs and not enough healthy fats. My portions were too large, also. So I buckled down and did not stray from her plan, eliminated a lot of the sweets and empty calories I was consuming. And things began to change.
In the first few weeks with my nutrition plan I saw noticeable weight loss. And with that came increased speed and power. I was able to hold faster paces in all three disciplines. Things plateaued after several months, but when I was consistent with my training and my diet -- I saw measurable improvements.
A few weeks prior to race day I noticed Katie begin modifying my diet to be more carb-heavy with less fats. To prepare me for the race she prescribed specific grams of carb intake instead of my usual calorie count methods. And again, I felt strong and not fatigued or weak when I followed her instruction. She always provided a post-workout meal for recovery, as well.
Then it was RACE DAY. For the first time in all my Ironmans, I not only had a race plan but a specific race-day nutrition plan. I listed everything I was to consume on race day down to the last gram of carbohydrate and sip of water. And I was eating WAY more than I ever had in any race. I did not just grab whatever was available at the aid stations -- I brought my own food and utilized my special needs bags carefully. I was dialed.
They say luck is the residue of hard work. Well it all came together on race day. Luck was on my side but really, the hard work and dedication paid off. I'm ecstatic with my race time. And I can't wait to cross the finish line at Ironman number six. I have learned so much on this journey -- and one of the main things I can preach is that you should not ignore your diet. As triathletes we can get away with consuming too much food and especially the wrong foods. We will burn it off and most of us end up thin-thin on race day.
Fueling your body with high quality foods is not really a secret. But it is the key to a faster finish. My life has changed thanks to Katie Rhodes. My plates are colorful and balanced. And I will never again disregard my daily eating plan. Good luck to all you future Ironman finishers. Let me know if I can help get you across the line with a new PR. Email me here firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with Katie at Katie@OWN-Nutrition.com."
A writer for Bicycling Magazine recently contacted me for some expert advice for a piece she was working on for the December/January issue:
"Occasionally in races, participants will be handed a beer or a shot and we’re wondering what the effects would be and if it would slow you down. We’re pretty much trying to figure out how much or how long it would take for the alcohol to hit your system and slow you down."
She will be quoting exerts in the December/January issue, but here is the full response I gave her:
Throughout my years working with triathletes I have had few ask me about alcohol during a race. I know in the early 1900s it was believed to relax the muscles and improve performance, but these days most athletes understand the negative effects on performance. Trust me, I like the occasional cocktail, but alcohol has no place on the race course. Alcohol is a toxin. You train your body through nutrition and exercise months before an event to function like clockwork in order to be as efficient as possible on the course. Putting a toxin in your body during a race can disrupt what you worked so hard to earn.
I would say anything more than 1/2 a 12oz beer affects your body right away since your liver can only process so much at a time. Alcohol during a race hits your system almost immediately. This is because after about 60-90 minutes of activity, your body is in “receiving mode” due to it relying mainly on consumed glucose for energy. Once consumed, your liver recognizes the toxin and works immediately to rid your body of it. But, since your liver can’t do that very quickly, alcohol is present in your system to cause some negative effects. Here are the negative effects:
Salmon - High in omega-3 fatty acids and DHA (an essential amino acid for brain health). Consuming 4 oz of salmon twice a week can improve your brain function and reduce neurological disease.
Blueberries - Blueberries are an antioxidant superstar! This power fruit is packed with anthocyanins, flavonoids and are speculated to help protect brain cells from free-radical damage. Studies in animals have found blueberries help prevent age-related memory loss. Add blueberries to oatmeal, yogurt, or enjoy for an after-meal dessert.
Eggs - An excellent source of protein, essential amino acids, B vitamins and zinc, egg yolks are also one of the best sources of choline. Choline is essential to the brain to fire up neurotransmitters related to memory and mental clarity. Start your day off with an egg to help increase memory retention and mental focus.
Oysters - High in zinc, iron, selenium, and magnesium, essential nutrients linked to memory and focus, oysters are a top brain power food. Next time you’re at your favorite seafood dining spot, enjoy oysters as an appetizer!
Walnuts - Walnuts are considered a top brain food by many health experts and for good reason. There are a number of nutrients in walnuts essential for brain health, including omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin E, and folate. The nutrients packed in walnuts can also help boost memory, fight depression, as well as help with insomnia. Add walnuts to oatmeal, salad, or enjoy as a mid-afternoon pick me up.
Oats and other whole grains - Rich in complex carbohydrates and B vitamins, whole grains will help supply a steady state of glucose to the brain, essential for brain function. Low blood sugar can decrease overall energy and mental focus. Start your day off with a bowl of oatmeal topped with blueberries and walnuts...talk about a brain food power meal!
Information by Lesli Bitel at www.HarmonicNutrition.com
I am Katie Rhodes, owner of OWN-Nutrition. I am a Registered and Licensed Dietitian in Little Rock, Arkansas with a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition. That sounds fancy, but it really means I'm a foodie at heart.