On this edition of The Kona Edge we look into the Ironman nutrition strategy with Rachel Hallam. We reveal the mistakes she has made with her Ironman nutrition and how she found what works for her body. Rachel believes that different Ironman nutrition strategies work for different Ironman races and she tells us why.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto this edition of The Kona Edge, thank you for downloading and listening to the podcast and we head back to Oxfordshire now in the United Kingdom where Rachel Hallam joins us. Rachel, welcome back, nice to touch base once again.
RACHEL HALLAM: Good to hear you. Brad.
Ironman Nutrition is a big deal
BRAD BROWN: Rachel, nutrition is such a huge part of an Ironman and I think as newbies in the sport, when we first get going, we don’t realize the importance until we’ve done a race or two, particularly around Ironman and we realize just how big a deal it is. How important is nutrition in your race strategy?
RACHEL HALLAM: Yeah, it’s massive Brad, at the end of the day, you’re fuelling for a long day out, so you’ve got to get those calories on board. It can make or break your race really, a good nutrition strategy, it’ll set you up for a decent run.
BRAD BROWN: Have you had it pretty much dialed in from the start or is it something that you’ve had to tweak and play with and possibly are still tweaking as you race?
RACHEL HALLAM: Yeah, I think I’m still tweaking now, to be honest with you. I think it’s one of those things you have to keep practicing and training. I think also, I’ve learnt over the years, you use some nutrition during a race or so and then you go and try and train on it a few days later or what have you and then your body doesn’t want to know it. It’s got bad memories from the race or something associated with nutrition. I think you’re always tweaking it.
BRAD BROWN: How do you approach a race from a nutrition point of view? Talk me through what you do and how you prep , whether it’s the day before and then morning of and the race itself?
Prepare your nutrition strategy well ahead of your Ironman race day
RACHEL HALLAM: Yeah sure, I think nutrition for me starts the week of the race really. I’ve honed my pre-week nutrition really as well. I think you’ve got to let your stomach settle during the week, I think in the middle of the week you’ve got to start thinking about reducing your fiber intake to help with the stomach issues that could occur. I think then sort of pre-race day, sort of everything is sort of really bland, I’ve personally, my stomach doesn’t want anything too rich or what have you, so we stick to white breads, those sort of things, a bit of plain chicken, those sort of things for dinner and what have you. No veggies from the day before the race and then I sort of set myself up, I have the same breakfast every day, whether it be training or racing, it’s porridge and that’s my fuel, really, its Rocket Fuel porridge in my opinion.
Yeah, then I follow a set routine, then, throughout the time leading into the race. I sort of sip on an energy drink have a gel and then 20 minutes before the swim starts, an energy bar maybe an hour before if I’m still feeling peckish from an early start.
BRAD BROWN: The race itself, are you a fan of solids or do you tend to just do liquids and gels, what’s the deal for you?
RACHEL HALLAM: You know, I think it depends on the race, I think for colder climate races, such as UK, I did Bolton last year, I think you can do more solids, but I don’t think, from what I’ve learnt, from the couple of hot races that I’ve done, I think you have to go more gel type, less solids, because of the heat. I think it’s actually, it’s very individual, I think you’ve got to work out what works for your body.
BRAD BROWN: You mentioned in our first chat with regards to Kona and how you struggled on the bike, keeping anything down, do you think that was a nutrition issue or was it something else?
RACHEL HALLAM: For me it was a combination of various things. I tried to get solids in too early, I tried to chuck down an energy bar and it wouldn’t go down, within the first half an hour of the bike, which is, I needed to let my stomach settle a bit more and then maybe try an energy bar, but then again, I didn’t do any, to be honest, for Lanzarote, I just stuck to gels rather and that seemed to work better, so maybe that was my learnings maybe, from racing in a hot environment.
Wholesome milk does it with Ironman recovery for Rachel
BRAD BROWN: Recovery-wise, what do you use, do you use recovery drinks, are you one on eating soon after a workout, what’s the deal?
RACHEL HALLAM: Yeah, absolutely, you’ve got to get something in that sort of half an hour, to an hour window. Being a farmer, I’m a big fan of a pint of milk as my recovery fuel. I think you can spend a fortune on recovery products, but there’s nothing better than a pint of whole milk!
BRAD BROWN: It’s so true. I was chatting to someone just the other day and talking about chocolate milk and it’s the same sort of thing, but it just, you can, like you say, you can waste so much money on expensive supplements, but I’m a huge fan as well, I think that is the way to go.
RACHEL HALLAM: Yeah, it’s better to be natural and whole food is much better than processed stuff, definitely.
BRAD BROWN: After a race, are you a big one on letting go a day or week after, what’s, as far as just recovery and having something to eat after a race, what do you do?
RACHEL HALLAM: The day of the race, normally my stomach doesn’t want to eat a lot really, I just try and force something down, but then obviously the next day you’re ravenous. You’ve got to allow your body to eat what it wants, especially the first few days after an Ironman, you’ve earned the right to eat whatever you want really. I think I’m not very strict on that point of view really.
BRAD BROWN: Does Mark –
RACHEL HALLAM: Maybe ice cream.
BRAD BROWN: I was going to say, does Mark agree, does he allow you to have that extra serving of dessert?
RACHEL HALLAM: I had in my training diary, go and have an ice cream, go for a ride and go and have an ice cream the day after the race.
BRAD BROWN: Rachel, it’s been great catching up, I look forward to following your journey up to Kona 2016. Thanks for your time and ja, much appreciated.
RACHEL HALLAM: Cheers Brad, good to talk to you.