We chat to Sara Fix on this edition of The Kona Edge about her Ironman nutrition strategy and training your body to do what you need it to do. Sara reveals why you should know what your nutrition needs are and why you need to cut back on the proteins.
BRAD BROWN: Sara, let’s touch on nutrition. Looking at your approach, just generally nutrition wise for you as an athlete. Tell me a little bit about how you approach things.
SARA FIX: I’m sure you’re getting the idea I’m really definite about the things I feel. After all this time, it’s almost 20 years I’ve had lots of athletes around me and my husband. It cracks me up. People just don’t think about their nutrition. I just can’t wrap my head around that.
Come up with a plan for Ironman Nutrition
The fact of the matter is whether you want to go see a nutrition doctor or you want to go see a sports doctor, whatever it is. You want to come up with a plan. You want to figure out what your calorie intake is. And you want to know your calorie intake in different weather conditions and in different environments. You want to understand what your calorie needs are and what your hydration needs are.
It’s actually really serious because if you don’t figure out your salt and you don’t figure out your water, and you drink too much water, that can be fatal. So you really want to take your nutrition and your calories seriously. I can’t tell you how many times I hear I’m ready, got our nutrition dialled in and we’re out on the course and they have nutrition issues. Did you have anything like that in your Ironman?
BRAD BROWN: I was pretty good if I have to be honest. I don’t think I over thought it too much but I’ve got a cast iron gut so I can pretty much eat anything. And I think I’ve got it pretty much dialled in. I think I’m sorted but it did take some testing and tweaking and I think we’ve got it pretty much sorted. But you’re right, I think a lot of people don’t think of it at all.
You can train your body to do anything
SARA FIX: They don’t think of it at all. You want to come up with a plan and I always say anybody can train their body to do anything. So someone obese can train their body to take millions of calories. Someone anorexic has learned how to not eat at all. You can train your body to take in whatever you want it to take in.
But it’s making the decision and figuring out what is going to keep you at top performance. What calorie is going to keep you at top performance allowing you to keep pushing, stay strong. Break down the nutrients, break down the calories, utilise the calories.
So it’s kind of really trying to figure out what it is that’s going to make you the most efficient on race day. To do that, you have to train with it.
What Ironman nutrition will make you most efficient on race day?
You have to practice and figure out was it 4 GU’s or 5 GU’s, or 10 Gus’s or do I not do well with GU. Does that not add up over time? After 2 days of training with GU and you go out on the 3rd day, does that make you sick. Ok well I can guarantee you on a 7 hour bike ride if you can’t train with GU 3 days in a row, that 7 hour bike ride with 3 and 4 and 5 GU’s an hour, is not going to happen for you.
Don’t keep trying different Ironman nutrition plans
So you have to make a decision and you have to start figuring out what will work. And train with it. You need to know these are important things. Your calories, how much actual liquid you want to take in.
We had a speaker at our camp this past weekend and people over hydrate more than they under hydrate. So, finding out that perfect medium and typically 2 bottles an hour is spot on. Now if you’re just going to go hydration and no GU’s and calories in any other way, you may have to delve into 3 bottles an hour. But finding out calories, carbohydrate, sodium, amino acid, those are in salt, straight up salt.
Those are your main things that you want to address and then train with it and then when you show up on race day there’s no question. Set your watch for every 10 minutes to take the same nutrition. You do the same thing and make a plan and start training with it.
Ease up on the protein in your Ironman nutrition
I have athletes who say this week I’m going to try doing nuts. I’m going to work with packs and nuts. Really? Last week worked. Why can’t we just keep working on that? You don’t want to keep trying different things. If it’s working keep going with it. If it’s not working, tweak it. Don’t just try things to try things. Because like I said you can train your body to do anything. You can train your body to use this nutrition if it’s working. It’s really important.
And not a lot of protein. Don’t use a lot of protein during racing. Your body is working really hard to break down calories and break down what’s in your system. And it’s also working really hard to do the sport and those protein products take a lot more to break down.
So, you just want to be using some little water that’s okay but you want to be careful of not overdoing the proteins.
BRAD BROWN: Sara if we want to find out more about you and what you guys are up to, where can they get more info online?
SARA FIX: So it’s Endure It Sports. We’re in Naperville in Westmont, Illinois. You can just go online and I’m really an open book and I’m really available. My phone number is on there, my e-mail so if anybody ever needs anything, I’d love to help. Just call me or e-mail me.
BRAD BROWN: Well Sara I’ll put the links into the show notes to this episode as well so if people want to click straight through they can. https://www.endureitsports.com/.
Thank you so much for your time today on The Kona Edge, much appreciated and best of luck. I hope all things go according to plan and you get back to the big island in 2018.
SARA FIX: Thank you so much. It’s been fun talking to you.
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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