One of the things that comes along Ironman training involves nutrition. Have you ever ask how long can you go without eating during training? Well... not that long. In the mornings, you can go without food for 60 to 90 min, pushing to 120 min. Beyond that you need CALORIES. So if I had a scheduled 5 hour ride + 20 min run, it means I need to be prepare for a long day. CALORIES = FOOD.
Pedals up at 5:45am, meaning I need to wake up at 4:45am or earlier. I usually have an hour to do that because:
- I need to have breakfast,
- Use the restroom
- Have time to get to the meeting place and arrive on time (if not everyone leaves me :( )
So my caloric need estimate is around 200 to 250 calories per hour. Meaning that at least I need 1000 calories to last for 5 hours more or less. So my breakfast consisted of a bowl of 1/2 cup of Muesli cereal, a tablespoon of almond butter and almond milk, which gave me around 350 calories. Then I prepared 2 bottles with liquid calories that have 200 calories each, which I put on the bike and I always have one clean water bottle just in case. Additionally I have a bento box on the bike with 3 energy bars that have around 200 calories each.
On the actual ride I drank the 2 bottles of liquid calories, a energy bar and some trail mix (I'm trying to switch processed vs natural foods... so I'm still in a testing phase). So including breakfast I had around the 1000 calories needed in the fuel tank. Nutrition is a important part of long distance training, but it always is different from people to people. With experience I have learned that my stomach is very sensitive to heavy sugars drinks like Gatorade, so I need something more light in order to not destroy my tummy. I still haven't nailed down the nutrition part so hopefully this time I can at least have a 90% down, because after all you need fuel to keep going.
Now if you see, the estimate caloric expenditure I had on the ride exceeds 1000 calories. I spent an estimate of 2700 calories. So why didn't I had more fuel with me in order to replenish the caloric loss? Now of course there's a long answer to the "why" but to keep the answer simple is that the body cannot process a lot of calories while working out. So basically based on an estimate of your caloric needs to keep going and not dying in the process, you have to set an average caloric intake per hour in order to keep going. A proper nutritionist can help you find your caloric number.
Last Sunday for me it was a reminder of what makes Ironman training so hard. This week we finally jumped into the 5 hour mark of riding the bike, plus running afterwards, making a total of 5:30 training day. I think the top time I log for Ironman training was a 9 hour day, but with new training I bet it can go beyond that. After all this training is coming from THOR ;)