Today on The Kona Edge we talk about the importance of nutrition being the 4th discipline in your Ironman training. Chris Montross takes us through his strategy of staying as close as possible to eating real good foods and shares his own home-made goo mix recipe with us.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome back to this edition of The Kona Edge and it’s time to talk some nutrition. We head back to the United States now to catch up with Ironman Age Group World Champion, Chris Montross.
Chris it’s got a nice ring to it, Ironman World Champion, it sounds good.
CHRIS MONTROSS: It really does and I would be lying had I told you I never think about that!
Don’t neglect the 4th discipline in Ironman training
BRAD BROWN: Fantastic, let’s talk about nutrition. For people getting into the sport, it’s often neglected. But it is vitally important and I’m sure you, like most Ironman Age Group World Champions would almost say it’s one of the, if not the most important disciplines.
CHRIS MONTROSS: I would say it’s the most important discipline. When people ask me my advice, the first thing I tell them is to eat good food. Nutrition is the number one component you can add to your performance.
BRAD BROWN: Chris, I love that and by saying: eating good food, you’re not talking just about race day or the few days leading up to race day. It’s all the time and making sure you’re fueling your body correctly to be able to maintain and carry the training volume and load that you need to in order to compete at the highest level.
CHRIS MONTROSS: It is exactly that. This is, if you do Ironman, this is an event that strains every organ in your body and you want them to be at the utmost performance that is available to you and health, and the only way to do that is to give your body, give your organs the best nutrition possible.
BRAD BROWN: Have you found it’s been more difficult as you’ve gotten older, to maintain that, like you could get away with eating a bit of rubbish when you were a bit younger, but as you get older, you need to really focus in and dial in on eating the right stuff?
Age does dictate your Ironman nutrition in the build-up to Kona
CHRIS MONTROSS: It is exactly that. As I aged, it seems like every even decade, so at 30, 40 and 50, even though I hadn’t changed my physical activity and was eating the same thing, it would seem at 30, 40 and 50, suddenly, boom, what I ate before, now added two pounds and an inch to my waistline that had never been the case before.
BRAD BROWN: I take it you’re big on real foods and making sure you’re not eating processed rubbish and that sort of stuff. What’s your take on vitamin supplementations and that sort of stuff, gels and goo’s and all of the powders and potions that come along with doing an Ironman?
CHRIS MONTROSS: We all have to find what works for us, that’s critical. In my daily routine, the only supplement I take, I’ve always been diagnosed as being anemic, having low iron, so there is a juice that I will drink, actually it’s like 10ml a day is all I do, that adds a little bit of iron. Plus I’m always trying to eat enough red meat and other things high in iron to supplement that, but that’s the only supplement I take. Other than that, I try to get everything else out of real food.
For race day though, you have to know, or at least have to, you got to know how your body is going to react to that. I occasionally will train with products that I know are going to be there on the race day. To make sure that my body is acclimated to it, so that I don’t have an adverse reaction because that’s what’s available at the race.
During the race though, I will try to eat what I know are the better products for my performance. I’ll eat bananas over goo’s. I make my own gel that I bring with me when I train and when I race, and when I train I also, I carry real foods. For instance, if I go on a bike ride, I’ll bring dried fruit, like dried peaches, dates, figs, things like that, that I will consume as opposed to having the package diet.
BRAD BROWN: Do you find you manage well with eating solids as opposed to not just using liquids and gels on a long one?
CHRIS MONTROSS: So far so good, yes, I have. For Kona I will bring a couple of sweet potatoes that I will consume on the bike. I keep a little bit of turmeric root in the pocket on my jersey that I’ll bite into occasionally. It helps settle the stomach, it’s a good natural anti-inflammatory and I’ll have my own home-made goo mix that I will take with me. Then if I need more on the course, I take what’s available on the course. My first go-to would be bananas, I had a hard time getting bananas at the aid stations, Kona 2015, so I did bite into a few oranges, but I would get as much moisture as I could and some of the softer hard material, but I would spit out a lot of the fibre stuff, of the oranges.
BRAD BROWN: Can you share what’s in those home-made goo’s of yours?
Kona beans for your home-made Ironman goo-mix
CHRIS MONTROSS: Yeah, it’s, in Fresno, in summer, where I live, we’re often over 100 degrees, which is, I think it’s about 38 centigrade. It’s typically honey, when it’s cooler and the honey is too thick, I will also add maple syrup. So it’s a honey/maple syrup, to that I add a pink salt, turmeric powder, cinnamon and that’s it. Oh, and I will grind Kona coffee beans and I’ll put that in there also.
BRAD BROWN: Sounds fascinating, I’m going to give that a shot, it actually sounds delicious.
CHRIS MONTROSS: It works for me, I don’t know that it works for everybody. I like coffee, I like caffeine. I find it doesn’t have any negative effects on me and I love the idea that it’s Kona beans from the Big Island, I really love that.
BRAD BROWN: It’s a good luck charm, I love it. Chris Montross, thank you so much once again for sharing your journey with us here on The Kona Edge and what you do from a nutrition point of view. I’ve loved chatting to you and all the best in the buildup to Kona 2016.
CHRIS MONTROSS: Hope to talk again Brad, thank you.