On today’s edition of The Kona Edge we chat to Roger Canham about his nutrition needs in his Ironman training. He shares with us how important he feels consistency is when it comes to fuelling your body and not changing what works for you. He warns us against taking in the various nutrition available at the aid stations.
BRAD BROWN: It’s nutrition time here on The Kona Edge and we’re joined once again by Roger Canham in the UK. Roger, welcome back, nice to touch base.
ROGER CANHAM: Thanks Brad, good to be back.
BRAD BROWN: Roger, we’ve literally not even touched on nutrition and it’s probably one of the most important things from a triathlon perspective, particularly in Ironman distance races. Is it something that you found came pretty easily to you or have you tested and experimented and figured out what’s worked for you over the years?
Work out your Ironman nutrition needs sooner rather than later
ROGER CANHAM: I guess I was quite lucky in a way that it only took me five Ironman’s to figure it out –
BRAD BROWN: Only?
ROGER CANHAM: That’s right, yeah, and there were some pretty uncomfortable moments in those first Ironman’s. Inevitably stomach cramps, lack of energy, over-heating, all of the different things that you can get through just not fueling right and by the time I’d figured it out, and continued to improve it, life got a lot better. When I can complete the marathon without having to stop, keep going, have the energy, it was absolutely critical in executing an Ironman well. You can be the fittest guy on the start line, if you don’t fuel right, it counts for nothing.
BRAD BROWN: It’s each to their own, everyone will be slightly different, but your strategy to approaching an Ironman from a nutrition point of view, how do you approach it?
Consistency and the right mindset on your Ironman nutrition
ROGER CANHAM: I guess, yes, absolutely being consistent, I have a plan ahead of time, figure out what calories you need and then just make sure you don’t adopt the mentality that it’s a picnic. You’re out there racing and you need fuel and you need to fuel in the most efficient way possible at the right times and a lot of people think, they’ll have solids, different things on the bike, different things on the run, I just keep it really simple and make sure that it’s consistent. I know what to expect. It doesn’t always taste great, but it fuels me and that’s the important thing and you know what, it’s just one day, so whilst you’re not having your favourite bars or your favourite gels or whatever, the point is you’re getting around the race and you’ve got the energy you need to complete it.
BRAD BROWN: You talk about a picnic, I’m so guilty at that, I was thinking of installing a basket on the front of my bike, but I’ve been talked out of that. You mentioned you got your bike nutrition dialed in pretty early on in your Ironman career, the run nutrition is a tough one because it is different. A lot of people approach it the same way, but they’re two very different disciplines, your body reacts differently when doing each one. Did you struggle getting the run one dialed in?
ROGER CANHAM: You know I guess I did actually, yes. It’s very much about listening to what your body needs. It comes back to not being too pedantic about the plan. Of course, have a plan and if you can stick to the plan, that’s great, because you figured out ahead of time what is required, but problem solving on the run. Think about your energy levels, think about whether you’re over-heating, do you need caffeine, what is it that you need at that moment in time that’s going to get you to the next aid station. And if your stomach can take some extra calories, you know what, get them in, don’t worry that you’ve only had one ten minutes ago because guess what? Get it in while your stomach can handle it because half an hours’ time it might have shut down for a period of time because it’s too hot or you’re over-revving, but take what you can, when you can, based on the plan you have going into the race.
BRAD BROWN: Absolutely, Roger, is there one thing you’ve done from a nutrition point of view that you think has really helped you in your Ironman performance over the years?
Keep your Ironman nutrition simple – it’s not a picnic
ROGER CANHAM: You know, I think keeping it simple actually, particularly on the bike. I just have a bottle now with my gels in it, watered down, I have put some extra salt caps in it and you’re self-sufficient on the bike then. You’re not worried about taking anything at aid stations, I just take water at aid stations. I’ve got all my gels, I’ve got all my calories in a bottle, I know what’s in there, I know I can handle it, from a digestion perspective, so just keep it really simple, but keep it so that you have control of it and you know what you’re doing.
BRAD BROWN: I love that, I think that’s superb advice. Roger, thank you so much for your time once again, it’s been great catching up, we look forward to doing it again soon and all the best for the rest of the season and the build-up to Kona 2016.
ROGER CANHAM: Thanks a lot Brad.