We talk Ironman Nutrition Strategies with Ben Hammer on this edition of The Kona Edge. Ben reveals how he trains with nutrition and how he races with nutrition. We also discover the best way is to stay as natural and healthy as possible and not do anything crazy with your diet.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome back to yet another edition of The Kona Edge, it’s great to have you on board today. Let’s chat some nutrition today and our guest on this episode has learnt some hard lessons when it comes to nutrition and making sure things are 100%. Ben Hammer joins us. Ben welcome onto The Kona Edge.
BEN HAMMER: Thanks for having me back.
BRAD BROWN: Ben, you’ve had some struggles with getting nutrition, the balance right and working things in races. I think Ironman Texas 2015, not that it’s just out and out nutrition, you got ill, but it’s something that you have had to struggle with and continue to struggle with continually.
BEN HAMMER: Absolutely. For me, I think the nutrition piece is one of the most challenging aspects of race day and yeah, sometimes I still don’t feel like I’ve got it fully dialed in.
Is nutrition your most challenging discipline?
BRAD BROWN: Does that frustrate you? We’ve spoken about that at length here on The Kona Edge, especially in an Ironman, because you don’t get too many chances to simulate going and racing for that long. Where you’re only getting a handful of opportunities a year, it does really make it difficult doesn’t it?
BEN HAMMER: Absolutely and the thing that I have found to be really challenging is that even if you simulate your nutrition on a long ride, which is easy to do, it’s hard to simulate the conditions or the intensity of that same ride in the race. For example, I practiced with my nutrition a lot in this past training block and then the most recent race that I did, which was Ironman Chattanooga, it was 95 degrees and that is a different variable than what I had been able to train with. It changes things up a little bit and it makes things a little bit harder on your stomach.
BRAD BROWN: What are some of the things you’re grappling with and experimenting with right now?
Is liquid based nutrition easier on the stomach?
BEN HAMMER: One thing that has been really helpful for me has been Infinit Nutrition. I started working with that before Kona 2015 and I do find that to be a really nice thing, even just logistically, having bottles on your bike. Obviously bikes are set up well to hold water bottles, so it’s very easy to carry. And then the other thing is having a more liquid based nutrition. It’s nice because it gives you some hydration with the nutrition and I think it’s also a lot easier for your stomach to take in a large number of calories per hour, as opposed to trying to do that all via solid food.
BRAD BROWN: What’s the biggest nutrition lesson you’ve learnt in your triathlon career?
BEN HAMMER: You can’t drink enough, for whatever reason. For better for worse, I think for five of the six Ironman’s that I’ve done is the runs have been over 90 degrees. And even when it’s not that hot, I think it’s almost impossible to take in too much water. I constantly have to remind myself to drink more on the bike especially.
BRAD BROWN: As far as one or two things that you’ve learnt that really help you nutritionally, that you can share with us. Whether it be checking sweat rate and that sort of thing, have you got that scientific on it?
BEN HAMMER: No, I have not. For me, I have a goal number of calories per hour on the bike and I try to make sure that I’m getting those in. I shoot for around 350 calories an hour when I’m biking and I have that measured out in terms of the amount of Infinit Nutrition that I need to take. And then I make sure that I either get that in by drinking that from the bottle or supplement with things from the aid station. Maybe a banana or some Gatorade or whatever, but I shoot for that goal number of right around 350 calories.
BRAD BROWN: As far as recovery, do you do anything specific nutrition-wise for recovery?
Keep it natural and healthy
BEN HAMMER: My coach shared with me when I asked him that question, he basically gave me some great common sense and I think it’s helpful. He said basically if you can pick it or you can kill it, then you can eat it. It’s that common sense of, the closer something is to being fresh, or processed as little as possible, I think the better off you are. For me, I just try to use good judgment and eat as healthy as possible or healthily as possible, but I don’t do anything crazy in terms of my diet or have any magic pills or anything like that.
BRAD BROWN: I think that’s the magic pill unfortunately, is that there are no magic pills and you’ve just got to keep it as natural and as healthy as possible. That’s what it boils down to I think.
Ben, as always, great to catch up, thank you so much for joining us. If people want to find out more about you, I know you’ve got a website that they can delve a bit deeper as well. It’s triteamhammer.com, you can get all the details there.
Ben thank you so much for joining us, much appreciated and best of luck on your journey to head back to the Big Island and achieve some of those goals and the sub 9 Ironman, it will be incredible. I can’t wait to see you do that.
BEN HAMMER: Thanks a lot for having me, a pleasure talking with you.