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BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge. Let’s talk some Ironman nutrition now and we head back to Canada to catch up with Benjamin Rudson. Ben, welcome. Thanks for joining us today.
BEN RUDSON: Thanks for having me.
BRAD BROWN: Benjamin, we haven’t spoken much about nutrition and a lot of people swear it’s the 4th discipline and maybe the most important out of the 4. Where would you rate nutrition in the greater scheme of things in your mind, when it comes to triathlon?
Are you focusing on Ironman nutrition or racing weight?
BEN RUDSON: Nutrition is huge. There’s a running joke out there that Ironman is more of a science experiment than any physical challenge in that the survival of the people who do well are the people who got their nutrition right. So, a nutrition plan both in and out of competition is extremely pivotal if you want to find success and make it to the Big Island.
BRAD BROWN: What’s been the biggest nutrition mistake that you’ve made in your career and what have you learnt from it?
BEN RUDSON: The biggest nutrition mistake I’ve made, and it might be a funny one for listeners. But it’s focusing too much on racing weight. Getting caught up in out-of-competition nutrition. And trying to cut down weight and get nice and slim and sleek. I ended up finding that to be a negative experience overall and ended up starving myself for the calories I needed to train.
BRAD BROWN: I think that is something that is overlooked. A lot of people fall into that trap as well. Benjamin, then as far as your strategy, how do you approach general training? Week to week. What’s your philosophy when it comes to nutrition every day?
Calories is a big deal with Ironman nutrition
BEN RUDSON: Being a university student can be a bit of a challenge. I don’t have a ton of time or the money to eat properly all the time. So, I think the big thing for me is if I only do one thing right a day, it’s going to be making sure I get the calories in. And as great as it is to eat nice and healthy every day, some days that’s just not possible. For me, I prioritise getting my calories in. Even if that means eating a pizza or a burger and fries, versus starving myself in favour of eating a bit healthier. Because frankly, when you’re putting in the high volume you require for Ironman racing, you really should be fresh every day and you must have that caloric intake to be able to sustain yourself week after week.
BRAD BROWN: And then from a race perspective, how do you approach race day, or race week, as far as nutrition goes? Do you do anything different or is it much of the same?
Make pre-race Ironman nutrition a good experience
BEN RUDSON: I have a fun pre-race routine. About a week out is when I start dialling the nutrition in a bit. I tend to up my sodium intake a little bit to make sure that I can up the sodium reserves for race day. Especially if it’s going to be hot out. Considering my experience in the marathon where I went unconscious. Ended up with hyponatraemia which is lack of blood sodium. I place a premium on salt intake both prior to race and during racing.
Aside from that, I tend to cut out fibre from my diet a couple of days before. I won’t go into the specifics of why I do that, but hopefully the listeners can work that out. We’ve all been there, we all have our stories. But I tend to cut out fibre about 2 days before race day, be it brown bread, whole grains, vegetables too.
Living your childhood dreams with pre-race Ironman nutrition
And so, a day before the race I eat like a 5-year old’s dream. White pasta with a white or red sauce, with chicken that I overcook to make sure that I’m not going to accidentally get bacteria in there. So, it’s bland and white and it doesn’t sound appetising but I enjoy it, not having to eat all those vegetables. I crave vegetables now and not the most fun part of the time. But just making sure I get those calories in, making sure you treat your body properly so when it comes to race day you have all the appropriate stores to have a great race.
BRAD BROWN: Tell me about your race day. What’s your strategy on the day itself?
BEN RUDSON: I’m fortunate enough to work for a company here in Canada that makes my nutrition for me. I drink strictly liquid when I’m out racing and I have this nutrition from Safire, who custom makes everything for me. How it works is I put in what I’m racing and all my body measurements and they produce a product that serves all my needs on race day. Of course, you want to make sure you experiment with that in training and practice proper nutrition in training to ensure that you have success on race day. But it’s been valuable.
Custom made Ironman nutrition serves all your performance needs
I don’t do anything solid on race day. I’ll drink about a bottle of this stuff an hour and consume, I’m a big fan of coke on the race. Give myself a little treat when I’m on the run, have that nice little drink of coke, sugar nectar, when you’re out on the course. That’s part of the mind games too. But I’m fortunate enough to have a dowdy nutrition right now and I hope to keep building and building on my experience going forward.
BRAD BROWN: Benjamin, thank you so much for you time on The Kona Edge. Much appreciated. We look forward to following your progress and see how you go with the shorter stuff. I’m keen to see how fast you can go. Thanks for your time.
BEN RUDSON: Thanks for having me on. Appreciate it.
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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