When it comes to any sporting event - nutrition in key!
Yes you can get your body fit for the race, but if you don't put the right fuel inside you there's only so far it can travel before it runs out.
Home grown tastes best!
I will probably be the only girl donning a bottle of beetroot juice on race morning, but I cannot tell you how much I believe in getting some beetroot down you before any race (but make sure you test before the big day as everyone reacts different to it!)
Beets contain a large amount of inorganic nitrates. These compounds are the precursor to a very important signalling molecule that our body needs to function- Nitric Oxide2. Nitric Oxide2 is made naturally within our bodies but we can dramatically increase its availability by eating nitrate rich food. Among other roles, Nitric Oxide2 acts as a vasodilator in functioning skeletal muscle, increasing the size of blood vessels to allow more oxygen flow3.
Or the non-science:
Basically it allows more oxygen to get to your muscles - thus allowing them to work harder!
– 1x bulb beetroot
– 1/2 cucumber
– 2x sticks of celery
– 2x carrots
– 1x apple
– an inch of ginger (or more if you can handle it!)
How to create:
Simply put everything through the juicer, stir, sip and enjoy.
Nutrition during the 70.3 Ironman:
The 70.3 Ironman is all about getting the right amount of carbohydrate down you, especially if you are completing the race closer to the 4 hour mark than the 7 hour mark. Your body stores contain roughly 500 grams of carbohydrate (this is 2000 kcal), not enough to make it to the finish line. I basically think the fuel I have in the morning for my breakfast will see me through the swim and then I will need to fuel when I am on the bike.
Because it takes time for carbohydrate to be absorbed, you need to start early with fuelling to make sure you avoid carbohydrate depletion. Once you run out of carbohydrate stores it is difficult to recover. I like to see the bike as a rolling buffet for this reason!
As a general rule, aim for 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. This carbohydrate can be in the form of a bar, a gel, chews, or a drink. If you use solid foods, make sure fat, protein and fibre content are low (no more than a few grams). What you use is entirely up to you and your personal preferences.
Faster athletes tend to use more liquids and less solids because it can be difficult to chew at high intensities. I really struggle with this too.
To give some idea of what 60 grams per hour equates to, it means that for every hour of the race you would need one of the following combinations:
2 gels and a small amount of sports drink
1 gel and a bottle of a sports drink
1 energy bar and half a bottle of a sports drink
Because I like to keep my nutrition as natural as possible I try to pick nutrition that will give me fuel but not difficult for my body to digest with artificial sugar. Try my homemade sports bar below.
Homemade energy gel:
8x pitted dates
1x tsp coconut oil
1x tbsp maple syrup or honey
Pinch of sea salt
Soak the dates for several hours.
Mix the ingredients together and blend until they form a smooth paste or gel-like consistency.
Decant out into storage containers.
Refrigerate until use.
Almond Butter energy bars:
400g medjool dates
100g of oats
100g of roasted Almonds
2 tablespoons of Almond butter
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
How to create:
Place the nuts and oats into your blender or food processor and blitz until they form a flour, then add the dates (pit them first!), coconut oil and almond butter.
Blend everything up until a sticky mix form.
Roll the mixture into balls or bars (whatever is easiest to store on the bike).
Set a little in the fridge.
These will last a few weeks, but if you want them to last longer/you don’t eat them all at once, like I do, then they freeze really well too.