We are joined by Owain Matthews on this edition of The Kona Edge to chat about his Ironman nutrition strategy and how he dials in on his nutritional needs. He reveals the nutrition mistakes he has made and how different training sessions require different nutritional needs.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome back to yet another edition of The Kona Edge, time to chat some nutrition, we head to Sydney, Australia where we’re joined by Owain Matthew. Owain, welcome, thanks for joining us once again.
OWAIN MATTHEWS: Thanks for having me again.
BRAD BROWN: Owain, let’s touch on nutrition and obviously nutrition is important, it doesn’t matter what sport you do, what distance you do, but particularly from an in-race perspective, nutrition for an Ironman is very different to a cross country race for example, where you started out, you’ve obviously had to adjust and change things a lot over the years.
One little thing could cause the downfall of your Ironman race
OWAIN MATTHEWS: Yeah, coming from a running background and doing races that don’t really last too long, nutrition was never an issue for us. It was always just about making sure that you’ve got some nutrition in you before the race and that you’ve not eaten too close to it. Whereas obviously when you get to an Ironman, it’s all about fueling throughout the day and that was really a new thing for me to work with and figure out for myself. And that’s something I’ve seen people make huge mistakes with. Again, with all this prep in the build for the big day, it can be one little thing like that, that causes the downfall of your whole day.
BRAD BROWN: What’s the biggest mistake or the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in regards to nutrition for an Ironman?
OWAIN MATTHEWS: I guess one of the things I would still always get people to do, a lot of people talk about it, but trialing things before you do them. So many people have some sort of plan ready for race day but have not necessarily given it a go before they’ve done it and that’s definitely one of the biggest downfalls I found, but then also revisiting the things that you do.
I found that as I’ve moved through the years of Ironman, my nutritional requirements have changed as an athlete, as my fitness and things have changed as well. Not just coming up with one plan and saying that was it, it worked well, that’s the only thing I ever need to do now, for every Ironman I ever do.
BRAD BROWN: As far as you get older, not that you’re old, you’re currently in the 35-39, but that’s one of the things too, people’s bodies change as they get older and you make an important point there, what worked for you in your 20’s say, is not necessarily going to work for you in your 50’s.
Learn your different Ironman nutritional needs to meet your training needs
OWAIN MATTHEWS: Yeah, and the requirements of nutrition have to meet, in training they have to meet what you’re doing and the energy systems you’re working. You really need to make sure as your training blocks change, and they have a different focus, that your training nutrition meets that. Also that you have a goal around what your training is trying to achieve.
If you’re doing a long, slow ride and you’re trying to promote the utilization of fat, then the way you build your nutrition for that ride and before it, is going to be really different than if you’d had a hard training session on the run or the bike and those things need to be learnt as you move through it.
BRAD BROWN: Do you do anything different with regards to race week as opposed to what you do in normal training or do you try and keep things as normal and the same as possible? Do you do anything different in the build up to an Ironman?
OWAIN MATTHEWS: Yeah, I guess as my training requirements change in the lead up to an Ironman race and the training volume comes down, initially through the week I keep my nutrition relatively the same and then I try to kind of dial it down a little bit because my requirements aren’t the same. I don’t need as much food in, that’s the one thing.
I’m definitely a big fan of staying away from a lot of fibre the day before a race, a lot of dairy the day before the race, just anything that might play havoc with people’s digestion. But other than that, I keep a very simple diet and very normal diet throughout my training, throughout my week, so then I find that when it comes to race day or race week, there’s not too much that I need to change or that’s going to affect me.
BRAD BROWN: Brilliant.
OWAIN MATTHEWS: I’m not very sensitive.
BRAD BROWN: As far as race day itself goes, are you able to eat solids, do you eat solids, what’s your race day nutrition strategy look like?
OWAIN MATTHEWS: I’m simple. I tried solids on my first one and didn’t get on with it at all, I didn’t have any problems with how I felt, but I just didn’t enjoy it. I am all liquid. I get all my carbs from gels and drinks and water and that’s, I just go liquid all day and I have no problems with it at all.
BRAD BROWN: Easy as that. Owain, thank you for your time here on The Kona Edge. I know you’re pretty active online, you’ve got a really amazing website as well. You talk about the coaching, if people want to reach out to you, the website to get to is owainmatthews.com. I’ll put that link in as well, but I know you’re active on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all that sort of thing and we’ll put those links too, so if people want to reach out to you, if they’re in Sydney and they’re looking for help or if they want to shoot any questions your way, I’m sure you’re more than willing to be in touch Owain?
OWAIN MATTHEWS: Yeah, please do, happy to chat triathlon any day of the week.
BRAD BROWN: Awesome stuff mate, thanks for your time, much appreciated and best of luck in the buildup to Kona in a couple of years’ time. Best of luck, thanks for your time.
OWAIN MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.