On this edition of The Kona Edge we chat to Fran Vincent about her Ironman nutrition philosophy and find out from her just how important her Ironman nutrition is in her training and racing strategy. Being pescatarian she faces the challenge of meeting all the nutritional requirements but tries to keep her nutritional needs as simple as possible.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge, it’s good to have you with us and we’re joined by Fran Vincent. Fran, welcome back, nice to touch base again.
FRAN VINCENT: Thanks Brad, always good to be here.
Your nutrition can make you the best possible athlete
BRAD BROWN: Fran, nutrition is pretty important when it comes to racing, but for you it plays quite a big part in your life in general. And particularly as you move into the older age groups now and you struggle with the fighting of, not getting slower, but struggling to get faster, if I can put it that way. Nutrition plays a big part in you trying to be as good an athlete as you can be?
FRAN VINCENT: Yes, it absolutely does.
BRAD BROWN: You’re into whole foods, tell us a bit about your regime and what your nutrition philosophy is.
FRAN VINCENT: I’m a pescatarian, so I’m a vegetarian, but I also eat seafood. I really believe in a clean diet, so I try to keep my diet as unprocessed as possible. Whole foods, as fresh as I can, I do a lot of my own cooking, I love soups and fresh fruits and vegetables and so the majority of my diet is probably fruits and vegetables, whole grains, with some fish as well. A lot of nuts and seeds and beans, so yeah, I’m a very healthy eater.
BRAD BROWN: How do you tie that into your race strategies and race nutrition strategies?
FRAN VINCENT: You know, that’s interesting because the closer I get to a race, the less kind of clean I eat. Most of our clean foods are pretty high in fibre and I don’t have an iron stomach, so I really pay attention to what I’m putting in my body, especially the week before and very closely a couple of days before.
I almost start to eat lower fibre, just to kind of get the GI system cleaned out and I eat things just before a race that I probably wouldn’t eat day to day in my regular life, things that are high in carbohydrates, low fibre, so we’re talking pretzels and we’re talking Fig Newtons and animal crackers and things that are going to give me plenty of calories but they’re not going to load me down with fibre for race day.
BRAD BROWN: I find it quite interesting because obviously when you’re following a very clean diet, you feel a certain way, but often when you eat that way, then you start introducing things like what you just mentioned, it sometimes makes you feel sluggish and not as great as you normally feel. Is that something that you battle with?
Your race day Ironman nutrition strategy
FRAN VINCENT: You know, that’s a really good point actually. I think the day before Ironman is always a very nerve wracking day, but that nutrition is, you know, it plays a big role in what’s going to happen the next day.
Yeah, sometimes I do feel a little bit sluggish. I think that that is kind of par for the course for most of us. We’re in this taper, you’re not really sure how your body is going to perform the next day, but you know, I know that this is what works for me and it’s what prevents me from being in the porta john the next day. Although it’s kind of contrary to what I would normally do, I know that it’s getting my body Ironman ready.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about fuelling and what you do from a workout perspective and for race. Obviously you try and get what you’re going to do on race day dialed in during training, but what’s your fuelling strategy?
FRAN VINCENT: Absolutely, I practice my race strategy every training session. I try to keep it as simple as possible and I’ve done a couple of different things throughout the years but where I am now, I’m really happy with.
I go pretty much all liquid. I try to use what’s on the course, I have been that person that’s left my nutrition in transition before and just kind of wondered, oh my gosh, how am I going to make this work. So, I use what’s on the course for Ironman, it’s usually Gatorade Endurance. I’m a big fan of the Base Performance as well, so I do use the Base Performance to train, but I really stick to what’s on the course. I use some gels in addition to that and some Shot Bloks as well, but I’m pretty much just gels, salt and Gatorade Endurance.
BRAD BROWN: You say simple and it is. It’s very simple, there’s not too much that, I don’t want to say that can go wrong, obviously anything can go wrong, but keeping it simple like that avoids a lot of issues possibly.
Just keep your Ironman nutrition simple
FRAN VINCENT: I absolutely agree and you know, really, when it comes down to it, it’s not really that complicated. Your body needs hydration, your body needs sugar and your body needs salt or electrolytes and it’s interesting to me, all the other things that people add into their mixes, which the protein, your body really can’t synthesize well, or the vitamins, the artificial colours, the artificial flavours, I just think it makes sense to try to keep it as simple as you possibly can.
BRAD BROWN: And after an Ironman, what do you do or after a training session, what do you do from a recovery point of view?
FRAN VINCENT: I’m really good during training and actually races too, about getting a protein/carbohydrate source, like a 4:1 ratio into my body, almost immediately. I have to say, as far as food goes, I don’t usually have an appetite.
After an Ironman, I’m not eating a normal diet for probably about 2 days later, I just, I don’t know, what we do is really tough on the body and I think especially tough on the digestive system, that really, it sort of shuts down while we’re out there, to divert all the energy to those working muscles.
I’m not a quick rebounder, I see people at the finish line chowing down on pizza and it’s a funny thing about Kona because the food there is, so not appealing to me and you see people just getting as much of it as they possibly can in their system and it’s just the last thing that I want. I’m good with a chocolate milk or I usually pack a recovery drink and just mix it with water and I’m good to go for a few hours. I do love my vegetarian pizza though. I will usually munch on that, probably a couple of hours later, not that I have much of an appetite for it, but I know that it’s important to get the digestive system going again.
BRAD BROWN: Fran, it’s been great catching up. I appreciate your time, thank you so much and we look forward to tracking your progress in the months and years to come.
FRAN VINCENT: Great, thank you Brad, it was great talking to you.