Ironman Nutrition – Fuel correctly, train properly, race fantastically
Ironman Nutrition – Fuel correctly, train properly, race fantastically

Ironman Nutrition – Fuel correctly, train properly, race fantastically

Ironman Nutrition – Fuel correctly, train properly, race fantastically

Often we over analyse our Ironman nutrition, particularly on race day. Desi Dickinson shares some valuable advice on how to keep it simple and balanced.

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Go longer with SFuels.

Train your body to use fat for fuel.  SFules helps you go longer & avoid the dreaded spike or bonk

They contain no sugars, honey, syrups, sugar alcohols, wheat, oats or cheap protein, which helps avoid gut and GI distress.

If you’re in the United States and you’d like to try SFuels out, simply click on button below and they’ll send you a FREE box

SFuels was recently launched in the ultra running space and the response has been phenomenal! See for yourself what the buzz is all about about.

Don’t delay, the free sample boxes of SFuels are limited.

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Transcription:

BRAD BROWN: We haven’t spoken much nutrition with Desi Dickinson. She joins us now on this edition of The Kona Edge.

Desi welcome back. Thanks for joining us. You mentioned in our first chat that you thought there was a 4th discipline to Ironman. But a lot of people say nutrition is the 4th discipline. You’ve essentially got 5 with the other one but nutrition is a big part of the sport too.

Living by the 80/20 rule – can it work?

DESI DICKINSON: I think my approach to nutrition is very similar to my approach to everything and that is really about consistency and balance. And probably the 80/20 rule. I’m great 80% of the time; I think I would say that. In fact closer to 70.

It’s all about balance for me. It’s about timing of things so making sure that when I’ve trained hard or raced hard, it’s about what I take in to feed my body again.

So after my training session, a good recovery shake. A good meal. Lots of protein. I wouldn’t say I follow something really specific and I’m that strict about it, but I do like to cut sugar out. It’s very basic principles.

Balance and simplicity for your Ironman nutrition

And then the other thing about nutrition is if I’m not going to fuel correctly, I’m not going to train properly. If I’m not going to train properly I’m never going to race fantastically.

So, it’s those 3 things together. But I don’t go to a nutritionist, I don’t follow anything. I try to keep it simple and I think that’s my philosophy over everything. Balance and simplicity.

BRAD BROWN: Desi, have you always had that approach to nutrition? Even before Ironman? Obviously you come from a competitive sporting background, softball and that sort of thing. Have you always been, I don’t want to say good about it, but has it always been that easy for you to keep that balance?

Everything is about consistency and balance

DESI DICKINSON: Yes. I’ve always been quite disciplined. I always say Monday to Friday is key and I’m always quite disciplined with Monday to Friday. But Brad maybe I must send you my fat photo, I don’t know if you want it, because there is one.

My physio once said to me that I’m not naturally physically blessed to do sport. I don’t have the best athlete’s body but the sport has changed my body. If I were to show you a picture, and this is not a long time ago it’s as recent as 2013. If I had to show you a picture of me from then to now, the change is dramatic.

I never necessarily said I was going to eat this way or eat that way. It’s the amount of training I do. And the more I do that and the more I feed my body to be able to do that, I don’t hold the weight. My body has literally transformed. And I don’t have the best body but it has transformed in the last few years and I’m quite proud of that for a 49 year old.

Don’t get obsessed with your racing weight

DESI DICKINSON: Desi, you mentioned when we chatted about your bike, that people are fixated on the numbers and on power and that sort of thing. I find that people are fixated with the numbers on their bathroom scale when it comes to racing weight and that sort of thing. Is that something that plays on you or are you also one of those like you know what I’ve got to go into this race feeling well. Whether I’m a kilogram or two over what I would have liked to have been, so be it? Or do you chase those numbers when it comes to weight? How do you approach it?

DESI DICKINSON: I think I know when I feel my best. And there is a particular weight, yes. So, yes. I think I do have a racing weight but it’s not something that I’m fixated over. I am organised about what I know works for me when I race and my ideal racing weight is one of them. So yes, I do strive to go for that.

BRAD BROWN: Talk to me about your race day nutrition. How do you approach an Ironman from a nutrition point of view?

Ironman nutrition is uncomplicated for race day

DESI DICKINSON: Again I keep it quite simple. But my brand of choice is High Five. It’s just a good breakfast and it’s something as simple as peanut butter and toast which I have every day of my life. And then I like to add some protein in, so a boiled egg or something like that. So that will be quite a simple breakfast.

Then I start off with a gel before the swim. The strategy literally is a gel every 40-minutes on the bike and a gel every 30-minutes on the run. I will eat 2 small bars on the ride, so it’s very simple. I know this probably wouldn’t work for everybody, especially guys who are bigger and demand more energy, but I can do a full Ironman, literally on that. It’s about 18 gels I think it is, and 2 small bars. In the beginning I had tummy issues and now it’s just nothing of the sort.

BRAD BROWN: I was just going to ask, gut issues after 18 gels, no issues?

Stick to the plan because it works

DESI DICKINSON: It’s weird, I don’t want to mention brands necessarily but High Five does work for me. I don’t know if it’s the consistency or what it is but I have no issues. That does work for me and that is my strategy. I do obviously have whatever is available in terms of liquids on the course. In Kona it’s Gatorade which you have to have and not a problem.

So again, I keep it quite simple. I like to have a plan and then the 2nd discipline is to stick to that plan.

BRAD BROWN: I was going to ask, talking about the plans. Do you go into a race with a plan B in case something happens with that plan, or not? Is it a case of you know what, if it doesn’t work on the day then we’ll have to just try and wing it and see what happens.

DESI DICKINSON: That’s exactly it. When I first started doing triathlon, the same guy that I used to train with, we’re on 2 different ends of the scale. I’m quite a risk taker and I’ll go in for example with just one tube on my bike, and one bomb. And he’ll have 3 and a satellite phone, and all those type of things. I have a plan and I tell myself, I imagine the very best possible outcome for myself always. I don’t dwell on what could happen.

Imagine the best outcome on race day with the right Ironman nutrition

As I said to you, it’s that ‘why not me’ thing. And why can’t I have the perfect race? And I don’t imagine what if this happens, and what if that happens. I don’t even go there in my head. I literally plan for the best scenario and it tends to work for me, touch wood.

BRAD BROWN: I love that. And that boils down to belief. And I think in any sport that’s what it takes to win. You have to believe you can win.

DESI DICKINSON: Yes, and in terms of nutrition the one place where it can fall down is on the bike. Because you don’t feel the heat as much on the bike. It’s possible to not drink as much as you should. It’s possible to forget to take your nutrition and once you need it, it’s actually too late. It’s to take it in a disciplined way as you’re supposed to.

Be disciplined to stick to your plan

But having said that, before last Ironman here in South Africa, I went to the All World Athlete Breakfast and Paula Newby-Fraser gave a talk. One of her pieces of advice in terms of nutrition, was she said don’t be too greedy. When you’re out on a training ride or a training run there isn’t a table every 2k’s and there isn’t a water table every 20k’s. Don’t be too greedy on race day and suddenly do things so differently that you then overdo it. But at the same time make sure that you have a plan and then the discipline to stick to that plan.

BRAD BROWN: That is key. Well, Des Dickinson thank you so much for your time on The Kona Edge. Much appreciated. I loved our chat and I look forward to following your progress and seeing when you do head back to Kona. And let’s hope its third time lucky and you come home with one of those bowls.

DESI DICKINSON: I hope so too. Thanks so much Brad. I appreciate the chat.

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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