Nutrition is key if you are to perform at your best on the big island. On today’s episode of The Kona edge we look at the value of the correct nutrition in the build up to the Ironman World Championships in Kona with Reece Barclay.


BRAD BROWN:  This is The Kona Edge, I’m Brad Brown, and joining me in London today is Reece Barclay, Reece welcome back onto the podcast. Good to have you, thanks for your time.

REECE BARCLAY:  No problem.

BRAD BROWN:  Reece, the first time we spoke and just spoke about your journey to Kona, you mentioned that you made some big changes to your sort of nutrition strategy in your build up to Kona in 2015. Prior to that, did you sort of just wing it? I mean obviously you come from a sports science sort of background but did you sort of just play it by ear and see how you feel or did you have a set strategy going into each one of your races prior to that change?

REECE BARCLAY:  Yeah, so the two races I did, Ironman distance before Kona were in the UK where it’s a coldish environment and you can get away with a lot more, I think in the colder environment. I kind of winged it on the second one. I had a strategy going in but unfortunately I dropped half of my nutrition without me knowing it on the bike course so I went to go and get it out my back pocket and it was no longer there, so yeah after that I had to wing it but going into Kona we really brushed up on the nutrition because we knew that the things that we would normally get away with, we wouldn’t because the heat would not allow it. So yeah, that was a big changing point for us.

How to make sure your nutrition changes are good for you at Ironman World Championships

BRAD BROWN:  All right, let’s talk about the change and you looked for help as well which I’m interested in too. Tell us a little bit about the decision on what you needed to do and what you ended up doing.

REECE BARCLAY:  Yeah, so we needed to basically find a food source that both of us, you know, could tolerate and it wasn’t necessarily the same thing for the both of us because what I can handle, Lucy can’t handle and sometimes vice versa. So we went to the University of Bedfordshire and the top nutritionist there, well all them really, but Hannah helped us particularly. She basically explained to us what your body can take and what you should be taking throughout the course of the bike, particularly the bike and what you should be taking on the run and it was a real eye opener as to you know, wow, you know we’d been having a feast on the bike compared to what we should be taking, so.

BRAD BROWN:  Are you one who can eat solids or are you generally a sort of liquids and gel sort of guy?

REECE BARCLAY:  I can eat solids up until, towards the end of the bike, I’d move over to gels but yeah throughout the bike I’ve got no problem with solids.

BRAD BROWN:  Talk to me about your strategy in Kona, yours personally. I mean what do you do in the build up to the race possibly the day, two days before and then on race morning and what do you do in the race itself?

REECE BARCLAY:  So, I clean up my diet from about three weeks out and by that I mean just you know generally eating lean, healthy and cutting out all of the rubbish foods. I sweat a lot so I knew I was going to have to be super hydrated going into the race. So I was conscious of that. I had a bottle of water on me at all times and a pinch of salt in the water as well so I don’t get all of my electrolytes drained out. Then my strategy for the day was just absolutely take the time to get the water down and make sure that I’m always hydrated.

I knew that if I got dehydrated it would be game over. So that was my number one priority and the second one was just try and adhere to the strategy as much as I possibly could. I’d allowed a little bit of way for error and leeway with my strategy so I knew that had I missed, you know my gel, whatever time I had set to take it, it wasn’t the end of the world, you know I could take it at so and so and I had it all, you know thoroughly planned out so.

BRAD BROWN:  One thing I picked up from your race report is you were really deliberate in your two transitions off the bike and out of the water with regards to getting hydration in. Tell me the thinking behind that.

Know your hydration levels before you go into Kona

REECE BARCLAY:  Yeah, so after the practice swim that we’d done the week before I just remember getting out of that swim and being really, really thirsty and you know salt obviously makes it worse so after that I decided, well I’m just going to take the extra 30 odd seconds, whatever it takes to take some liquid on board into T1. So I froze a bottle of coconut water the night before and by the time I got out of the swim that had defrosted nicely so I just nicked that and away I go really. I was already hydrated going onto the bike, same thing on T2. Unfortunately though the coconut water was really warm by then so I didn’t really like that one but got it down me.

BRAD BROWN:  As far as recovery nutrition goes, is there anything particular that you do?

REECE BARCLAY:  After the race I just had pizza and beer to be honest. So, not a good answer but in training generally I’m very good. I’ll make sure I have my protein shake and generally a banana as well within 20 minutes after my workout as well and I eat quite healthily as well, so.

BRAD BROWN:  Brilliant yeah, there’s nothing wrong with pizza and beer after an Ironman. It’s well deserved.


BRAD BROWN:  Reece Barclay, it’s been great catching up. Thank you so much for your time here on The Kona Edge. We look forward to catching up and best of luck in the build up to Lanzarote and yeah, who knows, second Ironman Kona and let’s hold thumbs for that podium.

REECE BARCLAY:  Brilliant, thanks a lot.

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