Today on The Kona Edge we chat to Robyn Hardage about her Ironman nutrition strategy and find out why she keeps her nutrition simple. She shares her early nutrition days with us and her decision to turn to something really boring which works for her. We also find out here what she does at every pre-race dinner.
BRAD BROWN: You’re listening to The Kona Edge. I’m Brad Brown and it’s time to chat some nutrition. Returning guest joining us today all the way from Ottawa in Canada, Robyn Hardage joins us. Robyn welcome back, thanks again for your time.
ROBYN HARDAGE: Thanks for having me.
Why you have some bad nutrition days
BRAD BROWN: You’re welcome Robyn. Let’s talk about nutrition. You in passing in our first chat mentioned that you had some GI issues in Kona in 2015. I don’t want to say it wrecks your race, but it made things uncomfortable and difficult. What do you reckon, looking back at that race, what caused those issues?
ROBYN HARDAGE: I’m still trying to figure it out. I don’t know if it was a combination of the heat and the exertion or I got a bit seasick in the water. I don’t know if that carried over, so it’s kind of a mystery to me. But I switched up my nutrition, but I’ve ended up going back to what I was doing last year and I haven’t had any issues so far. It’s kind of a mystery. I don’t know.
BRAD BROWN: It’s a frustration too. We’ve spoken about this at length here on the podcast too, everyone says don’t try anything new on race day. But in an Ironman it’s tough because you don’t get too many opportunities prior to a race like Kona, to test your race nutrition at K32 in a marathon after 180km bike. You’re almost feeling around in the dark and it’s difficult because you don’t get chances to test that out. Is that something you struggle with too?
ROBYN HARDAGE: For sure, yeah. Even when I started the sport, I had no idea what to expect. How my body was going to react to what I was putting in it, I had no idea. I don’t know if it’s hit and miss or if it’s just luck of the draw. Today your stomach is not going to have a good day, I don’t know.
BRAD BROWN: It’s frustrating at the best of times. Talk to me about your nutrition strategy. How do you approach an Ironman?
Keeping it boring and simple works best
ROBYN HARDAGE: It’s pretty boring. I stick to a Gatorade G2 or an Infinite mix blend that I have made. It’s pretty bland and then for food I just use those yucky power bars, like carbo bars. They’re like brown, they don’t look good, they don’t taste good. They’re boring. I have one of those.
BRAD BROWN: I was going to say, is that pretty much it? No bananas or that sort of thing? You tend to stay away from?
ROBYN HARDAGE: When I first started I would eat potatoes and bananas, but it just didn’t fuel me. It wasn’t enough and I was hungry and I would bonk and so yeah, I just sort of turned to something really boring. Really robotic, like a power bar every hour and it seems to work. The calories are there and it’s bland.
BRAD BROWN: Sometimes that’s probably not a bad thing, is keeping it simple and like you say, as boring as possible, but it seems to work for you. As far as general nutrition, are you pretty, I don’t want to say strict, but do you really watch what you eat? Or do you let yourself hang out on the dark side every now and again when you’re in training?
ROBYN HARDAGE: For sure, every day nutrition is kind of my weak link. I like my sweets and I don’t really give anything up for the sport. But I’m not one that goes out and eats fast food, I’ve never been like that. I try to eat three meals a day and I’m a grazer, so I snack a lot. But I’m trying to be better at eating to fuel my workouts and eating to recover and eating to have more energy in general. It’s a challenge. Obviously all the temptations are out there, but I won’t go out and eat a pizza.
BRAD BROWN: Is there place for the odd beer in a Kona training regime?
ROBYN HARDAGE: For sure. I have a beer every pre-race. So every pre-race dinner I have a beer.
BRAD BROWN: Only one?
ROBYN HARDAGE: Yeah, only one.
How do YOU aid your recovery?
BRAD BROWN: And only at that dinner. I’m impressed, that’s pretty impressive. As far as recovery, you mentioned the day to day nutrition is something that you probably should be better at. Recovery, are you pretty strict with regards to what you do from a nutrition point of view to aid your recovery?
ROBYN HARDAGE: Not really. I’m kind of hit and miss. If I have the energy, I’ll make a smoothie or something, or have a shake, that’s already pre-made. But I’m not the best. I could be better.
BRAD BROWN: There you have it, I love it. Robyn, one thing I really enjoy about your take is that you’re pretty laid back about this whole thing. You don’t seem to get stressed out too much about it. You’re finding your way and it seems to be working. You’re going back to Kona all the time and good for you. Well done.
ROBYN HARDAGE: Thank you.
BRAD BROWN: We look forward to seeing how you go on the Big Island this year. Hopefully that hip sorts itself out and you get to have the race that you’re hoping for. Thanks for your time on The Kona Edge.
ROBYN HARDAGE: All right, thanks for having me Brad.