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2013-05-19 4:17 PM

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Subject: Nutrition strategy for IM
I am signed up for IMFL in November and in another week I officially start my training cycle for the race. I just finished Gulf Coast, which was my second HIM. For both of my HIMs, I used the following strategy for nutrition. I had 300 calories of Accelerade plus shot blocks and a Cliff bar on the bike. Then I had a couple of gels on the run. I took the philosophy of "eat when you're hungry, drink when you're thirsty". It worked very well in both races and I had no issues with nutrition. However, I was running on a major calorie deficit and I don't see that being a sustainable strategy for twice the distance.

Any advice about how to differently approach nutrition for the full? I want to start practicing any changes from the start so I have a long time to figure out what works for me and what doesn't.


2013-05-20 12:09 PM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
It's quite a science and hopefully some of the coaches on the board will chime in with facts rather than my anecdotal experience...

I'm generally looking for around 250cal/hr on the bike - combination of Infinit, Gu's and a couple of Uncrustables. I've worked out the spacing intervals and set my watch to beep as needed. It takes a little discipline, and for my own part, the 'eat when you're hungry' technique doesn't work - I would be in deficit if I waited until I was hungry...especially since the first hour out of the water I don't want to eat at all. You'll want at least one bottle of concentrated powder mix you can empty in your aero bottle and dilute with water from water/aid stations.

The run is a little different - I eat off the course and kind of just go with whatever my tummy will tolerate - bananas, Fig Newtons, glass of Coke every other stop, usual stuff you'll find in the aid tents. Managing things towards a specific calorie number isn't really happening for me at this point but I think most people make do along similar lines; then again, some folks are probably totally disciplined and exact in their intake.

I remember Tim DeBoom(2xKona winner) talking about 140.6 being four times as hard as 70.3 and he cited nutrition as a major reason. You've got nearly six months before Fl. and that's plenty of time to get dialed in.

Good luck with your training..

2013-05-20 12:11 PM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM

You have an excellent nutrition plan.  Sure, you might want to tweak it, but stick with what is working.  It's important to keep nutrition as simple as possible.  

 

For the bike 300 cals an hour plus a little here and there is a bit high on the calories, but definitely in the normal range.  I'm 160 pounds and go 250 plus some solids when I feel like it.  I wouldn't touch this at all.

For the run I need to get in about a gel every 25 mins, and eventually switch to Coke.  Yeah, that's a lot and it's hard to keep eating them as the race goes on.  I think the key is that I'm running around 9 min/miles and for me that is a very easy pace and my HR is low.  There is no way I could take that much in at normal marathon pace of 7:30.  fwiw, in a stand alone marathon I take a gel every 60 mins.

 

I hope that helps!

2013-05-20 12:53 PM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
First things first, make sure that you focus on your nutrition on all of your training rides and runs. Practice it practice it Practice it. So many people say, "I'll figure it out" on the course and don't have a plan. Race week is too late.

You have something that is working for you, build up on that and see how it goes.

I think what many people miss is that it's not about Calories persay but about grams of CHO (carbohydrates). I'm not a big guy but I take in 300 cal (72 g CHO) per hour on the bike and I also take in 4-5 gels during a typical IM ride (each is ~100 calories and 22 g CHO). So i'm in the 90 g CHO range per hour.

For the run I take a gel every 4 miles and that gives me 22g CHO about every 35 minutes.

I do no solids at all. All liquid calories for me.

Pro Tip: Get rid of all of your insulated water bottles. Get use to drinking your fluids warm as that is what you will have to do on course.
2013-05-21 12:44 AM
in reply to: Marvarnett

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
+1 good advice above

If you ever get to the point you need and want the warm chicken broth which is offered at the aid stations at a marathon or IM run, then you need the chicken broth. Many people have eaten (drunk?) chicken broth in many events, with good results, thus it is still commonly offered.

If you've never used chicken broth as part of your nutrition in training... well you should. "Practice, practice" to learn how your digestive system and body will respond and to just get over the "that's weird" factor - warm, salty, smooth, slightly oily taste (compared to sugary electrolyte drinks). Weird but it works.

How to practice: Buy a can of Swanson chicken broth. Before a 4+ hour long brick, heat the chicken broth to boiling and put it in a thermos. Put the thermos in your car, parked along your run course, or in your mailbox if training from home. To simulate race conditions, eat this only after 3+ hours, and consume only about 1/2 cup, about every 15 to 30 minutes, alternating with whatever else you're eating - gels, Coke, Gatorade, etc. The point is to see how your stomach and digestion respond. It's 'comfort food' when you're really running low on fuel. It's very comforting on a cool or rainy day.

Oh and did I mention it's weird? Might be best not to tell too many people outside of your immediate IM support team that you cooked hot chicken soup to eat in the middle of a workout on a hot day. It's like bodyglide, elastic laces and pee-ing on the bike, it takes too long to explain and/or you'll just convince them even more how weird you are.
2013-05-21 8:20 AM
in reply to: AtlantaBill

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
Originally posted by AtlantaBill

+1 good advice above

If you ever get to the point you need and want the warm chicken broth which is offered at the aid stations at a marathon or IM run, then you need the chicken broth. Many people have eaten (drunk?) chicken broth in many events, with good results, thus it is still commonly offered.

If you've never used chicken broth as part of your nutrition in training... well you should. "Practice, practice" to learn how your digestive system and body will respond and to just get over the "that's weird" factor - warm, salty, smooth, slightly oily taste (compared to sugary electrolyte drinks). Weird but it works.

How to practice: Buy a can of Swanson chicken broth. Before a 4+ hour long brick, heat the chicken broth to boiling and put it in a thermos. Put the thermos in your car, parked along your run course, or in your mailbox if training from home. To simulate race conditions, eat this only after 3+ hours, and consume only about 1/2 cup, about every 15 to 30 minutes, alternating with whatever else you're eating - gels, Coke, Gatorade, etc. The point is to see how your stomach and digestion respond. It's 'comfort food' when you're really running low on fuel. It's very comforting on a cool or rainy day.

Oh and did I mention it's weird? Might be best not to tell too many people outside of your immediate IM support team that you cooked hot chicken soup to eat in the middle of a workout on a hot day. It's like bodyglide, elastic laces and pee-ing on the bike, it takes too long to explain and/or you'll just convince them even more how weird you are.


I'm actually going to disagree with you on this one Bill. Chicken Broth is a savior on course but it's only a method of last resort, IMHO. If you start hitting the broth, then things have gone horribly wrong and you are in survival mode.

That is not something that needs nor should be practiced. But that's just my opinion.


2013-05-21 12:01 PM
in reply to: Marvarnett

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM

If things are going well Coke is ambrosia during the back half of the run.

 

At Vineman this year I was in "just finish" mode and the volunteers had started to give me grief about the coke.  It was in the 90's and I wasn't exaclty motivated, so at each aid station I got a cup of ice and poured it full of coke and hung out for a while.  

2013-05-23 8:50 AM
in reply to: brown_dog_us

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
Originally posted by brown_dog_us

If things are going well Coke is ambrosia during the back half of the run.

 

At Vineman this year I was in "just finish" mode and the volunteers had started to give me grief about the coke.  It was in the 90's and I wasn't exaclty motivated, so at each aid station I got a cup of ice and poured it full of coke and hung out for a while.  

Hehe I did this at LOU in '07 too. I was so "done" that I would grab a cup of ice and fill it up with coke, grabbed a cup of pretzels and continued my death march toward the finish line.

 

 

To answer the OP, 300 cal/hr on the bike is a good starting point but you may have to revise that up or down depending on how your body tolerates calories in the heat.  I am 170 lbs and I usually shoot for 275 cal/hr on the bike. For the run it is going to be less, somewhere around 150-200 calories at most.

2013-05-23 1:22 PM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
Sounds like everyone has already said most of what I was going to suggest.

1. Practice nutrition in training
2. Go with what works
3. Keep it simple

Athletes, coaches, and articles all seem to gravitate to the 300-400 calories per hour mark for the bike, and much less for the run. I guess that works for your typical athlete and since you're already in that range, go from there.

I wouldn't wait until you're thirsty or hungry to drink or eat, though. From experiences in racing (and the military), if you wait until you're at that point, you're already behind. Stay on top of your nutrition. Later in the race, when you're tired and starting to feel hot and tired, the last thing you want to do is eat or drink extra. Besides being hard to force down, it just seems to slosh around in your stomach and can lead to GI distress...

Good luck!
2013-05-23 3:23 PM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
I have had great success up to 70.3 and on longer bricks with something I was turned onto during my coaching certs. It is a slow burning carb that is low sugar so has minimal impact in blood sugar. Look into superstarch or generation ucan.
2013-05-28 8:06 AM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
Thanks everyone for the great advice. Lots of information in this thread that I will incorporate into my training. I am going to start documenting my nutrition for all long rides and runs going forward and start trying to determine what works and what doesn't. I will probably start at the low end of 250 cals/hour on the bike and start bumping it up from there. For the run, I'm going to try to do a gel every 30 minutes to start.


2013-05-28 10:02 AM
in reply to: Rocket Man

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
Originally posted by Rocket Man

Originally posted by brown_dog_us

If things are going well Coke is ambrosia during the back half of the run.

 

At Vineman this year I was in "just finish" mode and the volunteers had started to give me grief about the coke.  It was in the 90's and I wasn't exaclty motivated, so at each aid station I got a cup of ice and poured it full of coke and hung out for a while.  

Hehe I did this at LOU in '07 too. I was so "done" that I would grab a cup of ice and fill it up with coke, grabbed a cup of pretzels and continued my death march toward the finish line.

 

 

To answer the OP, 300 cal/hr on the bike is a good starting point but you may have to revise that up or down depending on how your body tolerates calories in the heat.  I am 170 lbs and I usually shoot for 275 cal/hr on the bike. For the run it is going to be less, somewhere around 150-200 calories at most.




I did the same at Vineman because it was so freaking hot. I have never drunk coke in a race before or since, but was walking the hills and exposed areas and running everything else. Craved salt, but there were only greasy chips, so at aid stations, I poured coke into my ice, swirled like a cocktail, drank the coke, ate the ice. DELIGHTFUL.

As Dan mentions above, broth (and I'd argue coke) is a last resort when you need to get some calories/salt in but nothing else wants to go in. Broth is only 38 calories for 8oz, and they only give you about 4oz at an aid station so that is pretty low if you are still running. It worked OK for me at the end of Wisconsin, but it certainly was not my plan.
2013-07-24 6:37 AM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
I thought I'd post a follow up now that I have some good long rides under my belt and have some idea of what I am doing.

I have found that 300 cals/hr on the bike and 200 cals/hr on the run seems to work well for me. I am using mostly the same products I did for the HIM. I take in 120 cals of Accelerade and 180 cals of Shot Bloks and Cliff Bars per hour. I also tried a boiled potato last weekend and it was absolutely wonderful. Thinking I will throw one or two of those in my bike drop bag. On my first 100 milers, I got really thirsty in the last 1.5 hours even though I drank almost 4 bottles of water in that time. I am thinking my electrolytes may have been running low so I added in Endurolytes (1 per hour) on my last long ride. I didn't have the thirst, but there are way too many factors that could go into that so it's hard to tell if it helped.

For the run, I am just doing a gel every 30 minutes. I can handle up to 2.5 hours with that.

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions and good advice.
2013-07-24 9:35 AM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138


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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
Any thoughts on pickle juice? I recently read about that to help prevent or relieve cramping.
2013-07-24 2:19 PM
in reply to: tb1000

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
Originally posted by tb1000

Any thoughts on pickle juice? I recently read about that to help prevent or relieve cramping.


Here is the thing: No one, not one study or any doctor can tell you why you cramp. I have heard about pickle juice (which I love to drink, don't judge me), chicken broth, salt pills, licking your arm, etc. All of these will provide you some sodium, micro-nutrients, etc. If it helps YOU relieve cramping, then you're good to go.

I personally think there is an easier way to carry sodium, et al than pickle juice but that's up to the individual.

But I will ask you this: Have you ever actually cramped? I don't mean: I think I'm going to cramp, etc. I have found that few people actually cramp and need to supplement. But those that do cramp have great success when they do take some sort of 'salt' supplementation during training.

Note: Yes, I know it sounds like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth above.
2013-07-24 2:55 PM
in reply to: 0


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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
I have found myself cramping in the same spot in my left hip on my endurance rides recently - usually around the 2 hr mark. Problem is that with the weather and my schedule I haven't been able to do as many endurance rides so I attribute part of the problem to fatigue but have tried to manage my nutrition on the ride, including recently experimenting with salt caps. I haven't found that elixir yet but am working on a) endurance and b) dialing in my nutrition appropriately.

Edited by tb1000 2013-07-24 2:57 PM


2013-07-24 3:07 PM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138


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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
Having read your post the one area that jumped out at me is the "eat when hungry, drink when thirsty" philosophy. In my experience on long course racing, that puts you well behind on nutrition and causes spikes in your energy levels. I have found that you have to avoid those peaks and valleys of energy by maintaining consistent levels...which means eating less more frequently. The goal is to get the total hourly amount (for me 350 calories) evenly. I set my watch to beep every 15 minutes, and when it goes off I cram something in my mouth. After 5 hours it gets old, but I have found I had more energy coming off the bike that I had back when I was not a consistent.

Once off the bike, I let my body dictate what it wanted on the run.

Hope this helps. Also, have fun training and I will see you out there as I am doing this race as well.

Chris
2013-07-24 3:35 PM
in reply to: ChrisGreen

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
Originally posted by ChrisGreen

Having read your post the one area that jumped out at me is the "eat when hungry, drink when thirsty" philosophy. In my experience on long course racing, that puts you well behind on nutrition and causes spikes in your energy levels. I have found that you have to avoid those peaks and valleys of energy by maintaining consistent levels...which means eating less more frequently. The goal is to get the total hourly amount (for me 350 calories) evenly. I set my watch to beep every 15 minutes, and when it goes off I cram something in my mouth. After 5 hours it gets old, but I have found I had more energy coming off the bike that I had back when I was not a consistent.

Once off the bike, I let my body dictate what it wanted on the run.

Hope this helps. Also, have fun training and I will see you out there as I am doing this race as well.

Chris


Chris

I forgot to address this part. I realized that this approach wouldn't work for a full IM. I am eating every 20 minutes on the bike and every 30 minutes on the run.
2013-07-25 12:47 PM
in reply to: chrishatcher1138

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Subject: RE: Nutrition strategy for IM
My nutrition plan for last year during IMFL was:
Bike - 2 fig newtons per hour OR 1 honey stinger per hour. I alternated to mix it up a bit. I also drank 1 bottle of Ironman perform per hour.
Run - Every aid station, I drank at least one cup of Ironman Perform. My stomach never tolerated me eating solids or gels on my training runs so I survived strictly on liquid calories. I drank some chicken broth at mile 18 but that was it.

My total calories per hour were lower than what I've read from most other athletes. However, I practiced it multiple times and it worked for me. I felt fine at the end of the race too and never felt like I was going to bonk.
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