Ironman Run Injury – Hacks to keep you injury free

Practice your Ironman nutrition strategy during training

Rob Cummins Ironman Bike

On today’s episode of The Kona Edge we welcome back Brice Williams and have an in-depth discussion about his Ironman nutrition strategy.

He also shares some advice about how to know if you’re getting enough fluid intake during the race.

(Read the transcription of our chat here)

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Podcast Transcription:

 

BRAD BROWN:  Welcome onto this edition of The Kona Edge, I’m Brad Brown and we head back to Utah now to chat some nutrition with a returning guest Brice Williams. Brice, welcome back onto the podcast today, thanks for your time on The Kona Edge.

BRICE WILLIAMS:  Thanks for having me.

BRAD BROWN:  Brice, let’s talk about nutrition as a discipline; it is the fourth discipline of triathlon. How big a role does it play in your performance?

BRICE WILLIAMS:  It’s crucial, it’s huge. You can cheat your way through a sprint, an Olympic and even a half distance Ironman, but you cannot cheat the nutrition discipline in a full distance Ironman.

BRAD BROWN:  Talk to me about your approach to race day itself from a nutrition point of view.

BRICE WILLIAMS:  You want me to start with what I eat before the race or just during the race?

BRAD BROWN:  Pretty much preparation, leading up, day before, morning of and then going into the race.

BRICE WILLIAMS:  Sure, leading into the race I tend to cut out my protein and fats and just replace those with carbohydrates. I don’t do a huge carbo load kind of thing. I used to, I used to believe in that and if it’s a Saturday race, Friday morning I’d have this humongous carb loading breakfast and then I’d taper my carbs off during the day. I found that that led to a little bit more water retention than I wanted, a little bloating and so I’ve even tapered down my carb loading breakfast the day before the race, nothing outlandish, a few hundred grams of carbs, but important to keep off the fats and the proteins. I taper that off throughout the day. I go to bed just a little bit hungry and then I wake up about three hours before a race starts, I tend to put in a large carb loading breakfast. For me that’s a couple of cups of applesauce. I follow the QT2 nutrition protocol. It’s a couple of cups of applesauce, a protein drink and a banana and then about 30-45 minutes I’ll take in some beetroot juice and I prefer the powder form, I use the HumanN beetroot juice because then I don’t have to drink a large volume of fluid.

Then 15 minutes before the race I’ll take in a gel, but at that point I haven’t taken in any caffeine, on Ironman I won’t put in caffeine before the race. I’m usually ramped up enough anyway. You get through the swim and then on the bike I just tend to eat what’s on course or drink what’s on course and I train this way too with Gatorade Endurance. If it’s a really hot race I’ll take in two bottles of Gatorade Endurance every hour and that meets my nutritional requirements of about 100g of carbs per hour. It keeps me in the right range for the salt intake as well and plenty of fluid.

A good rule of thumb is if you need to urinate by 90 minutes into the race, you’re doing a proper fluid amount, but if you go two hours and you haven’t yet peed on the bike, then you’re already behind and you need to bump up your fluid intake. I think that’s the main limiter for a lot of age groupers, is they just don’t appreciate how much fluid you’re putting out on the bike because the cooling effect of the wind going by, you’re not sweating; you don’t think you’re sweating. Even on a cool race, I guarantee you; you’re using water, just by breathing in and out. The hydration aspect is important.

If it’s a cooler race, I don’t need to drink quite that much, so I’ll supplement with, I use the Power Bar gels and they’ve stopped making them, so I’ve hoarded a few, so I have some in stock just for race, but the Gatorade gels are actually pretty good too. Those are the best gels. I stay away from some of these other gels that are not made appropriately for what we need. Those, I think, are the top gels out there right now. About three-quarters of the way through the bike I’ll start my caffeine intake and I aim for 50g an hour, maybe a little less on the bike, just enough to keep my concentration for the last part of the bike.

I come off into the run feeling well hydrated and well calorie’d and then on the run I will drink Gatorade Endurance at every aid station, at least one cup, if it’s really hot I try and get one and a half. On the run it’s a calculated fluid loss and it’s a calculated calorie deficit, just because our guts can’t quite handle what we’re requiring of it. So it’s important to come off the bike fully tanked because you are going to lose fluid and you’re going to be running a calorie deficit on the run, guaranteed, unless you’re walking. If you’re walking it’s fine, no problem, but if you’re running you’re limited.

For me, my gut can only handle 60-80g of carbohydrates an hour and I get that through the Gatorade Endurance and I also take in a Clif Block chew every two miles and I carry the orange in one hand, which has a total of 50mg of caffeine and then in the other hand I carry the cranberry/raspberry one which is double. That has a total of 100mg of caffeine. Over the course of the marathon there’s 12 blocks in each one, so that’s 24 miles, so I finish my last block at mile 24 and I take that double amount of caffeine on the second half of the marathon because if you look at the way caffeine is efficient, you want to increase your rate of taking it in throughout the course of the race so that the last four or five miles you’re putting in the peak amount of concentration of caffeine.

Yeah, mile 24 I eat my last block, I still drink at every aid station that I can and every other mile I’ll take a lick of BASE salt. That’s my nutrition right there.

BRAD BROWN:  You sound like you’ve got it pretty much worked out and dialed in.

BRICE WILLIAMS:  It has to be before the race. You have to practice this every single training session, especially the two months before the race. If you don’t, you’re in for a rough day, you’re in for a rough day, you need to dial that in perfectly.

BRAD BROWN:  I was going to ask Brice, you’ve obviously practiced this; this doesn’t happen by accident in a race. Is it something that you figured out a while ago and it works and no you stick by it or is it something you’re tweaking all the time?

BRICE WILLIAMS:  There was some tweaking over the years. With my coaching with the QT2 Systems, they have a nutritionist and my coach, he’s a professional triathlete and he kind of set me up with that plan overall and then I did make some tweaks over time and with experience I learned that oh, I didn’t quite need the drink that much or this is how much my body can handle. There’s definitely some practice, but you can learn this outside of a race just by training at race efforts and doing the nutrition plan. You can weigh yourself before and after your long bike. You can weigh yourself before and after your long runs and you want to aim not be losing more than 3-5% of your body mass because after you lose about 5% of your body mass, you really decline in your ability to perform. You cannot fake dehydration impairment; I mean you can’t push through that. I don’t care how strong you are mentally; your body will shut down if you lose more than 5% of your body mass.

BRAD BROWN:  Absolutely, Brice, it’s been amazing catching up, thank you so much for your time on The Kona Edge, I really appreciate it and we look forward to following your progress to your next Kona qualification and the next race on the Big Island.

BRICE WILLIAMS:  Thanks, I look forward to it.

About Us

Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).

Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.

He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.

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