Three years ago when training for Ironman Florida 2006, I used to see amazing people swimming laps back and forth effortlessly in the pool. Occasionally Dave and I would see a brave woman riding solo out on the roads in the middle of nowhere. I saw a few crazies running in the worst heat of the day.
How the hell do these people do it?
I was quite new to tris back then.
Good swim technique? Eh, I just want to survive the 2.4 mi swim and go on to my better sports.
Riding confidence? Who are we kidding? I could ride long but barely in a straight line let alone fix a flat tire.
Heat tolerance? I think I wore out the belt on my treadmill that year.
What I was missing was love for the sport. Truthfully, I was really just a runner who was dabbling in tris then. I had the time and desire to train for an ironman but not really the heart or passion. (As some of you may recall, my main reason for signing up was to learn how to swim, as in freestyle, that cool stroke that real swimmers did. Seriously, I hated swimming so much that nothing less than an ironman would have gotten me to do it!)
But without a doubt, heart and passion are driving me now. And what a difference. When things don't go right, like two weekends ago, there are some tough times, oh yes, but there are no "Why the f*ck am I doing this?" moments. Trust me, there were a LOT of those in 2006. This time, the answer is clear: Because You Know You Love Tris.
Yep, I'm a sick puppy. Good or bad, I am happy and thankful to complete every workout. Each one, even a bad one, is much better than what I could do back in 2006. Even when plodding along painfully and slowly, I know I am getting stronger mentally and learning some new lessons that will help me later. At a minimum, I'm getting more heat training and respect for the iron distance, for Mother Nature and for myself. Each one is a deposit in my training bank, as many like to say, and a step closer to who I want to be and where I want to be in a few years.
The only part that is not really fun for me, however, is the nutrition side. Before this year, I've never really had to make major changes to my diet and routine. For 50+ marathons, I just drank water (or sports drink in a race) when I felt like I needed to and consumed gels every few miles, maybe an salt cap or two if it was a warm race and I remembered to bring them. So simple! But now things are serious, perhaps even a matter of life or death when training for much longer in severe heat and often alone (Dave can't ride with me for more than 50 miles in such heat and no one I know wants to run long in it. Can't blame them!). I've got to put aside fun and do what's necessary.
So every day I'm studying food labels closely, logging food, weighing myself before and after each workout, estimating sweat rates, salt losses and calorie expenditures. I need to make sure I don't overdo things earlier in the week (Coach said every workout does not need to be in the heat!) and that I get enough fuel & fluids into me before the long weekend workouts.
That said and done, I'm happy to say last weekend went great!
Fri - Swim 3100 yds w/ 15x100 yds. Not effortless per se, but swam four 1:45s (Fast for me!)
and broke 100 miles in swimming this year (I'm Tropical :-) - w00t.
Sat - Run 17 mi, 90-97 deg HI, 9:56 avg pace, neg split, AHR 158 (Z2).
Sun - Bike 85.22 mi, 76-96 deg HI, flat, winds 4-14 mph, 17.5 mph, neg split, AHR 133 (Z1).
Brick run 5.22 mi, 97 deg HI, 8:55 pace, neg split, AHR 157 (Z2)
So I feel ready to share what I'm doing nutrition-wise in case it may help anyone else. Note I'm usually 122-123# but can fluctuate +/- 2 to 3# day to day depending on my hydration level.
Daily calorie intake M-W 2000-2500 cals.
Daily calorie intake Th-Su 2500-3000 cals, plus extra fuel & fluids during long Sat-Sun workouts as follows:
Long runs (per hr) - 30-40 oz fluids*,
100-200 cals (1-2 gels),
550-750 mg sodium** (gels, Nuun, salt caps)
Long rides (per hr) - 30-40 oz fluids,
300-400 cals (CarboPro, Gatorade, Clif Bars, Perpeteum***),
650-750 mg sodium** (Gatorade, Clif Bars, Perpeteum, salt caps)
* Even drinking 140 oz fluids during and after Saturday's 17-miler, I was down 2# when I got home, meaning I lost like 11# during the run!! My sweat rate when running in 90+ degs and high humidity is actually 50-60 oz/hr(!) but my body can't absorb more than 30-40 oz/hr. So I've been working on gaining a couple extra pounds of water weight (i.e., carbo loading) before every long workout. Thus, even if I lose a few pounds, I'll be back to or close to where I usually am.
** Haven't had any low salt issues but plan to up my sodium intake to the recommended 1 gm/ hour. For the run, I'll add a sports drink, which will also add more calories (can probably handle up to 300). On the bike, either more salty foods or more salt caps. I already do eat extra salt in my diet before my long workouts.
*** Though I ran well after the long bike, I had some noticeable gas issues after consuming Perpeteum late in the ride when CarboPro and solid food were no longer appealing. Googling tells me I'm not the only one (I don't handle soy or whey protein well). I'll be trying some things next time to try to minimize that. Sorry Dave and anyone near me!
Final note, I've decided against using a one-product-does-it-all nutrition like Infinit. Mainly, I don't have the time to dial down a formula (or two) that will work in 80-90+ degs (Great Floridian Iron Tri) as well as 50-70 degs (Beach To Battleship Iron Tri) two weeks later so I'm starting with what I know works for me in the heat and will adjust accordingly for the cooler race. To do that, I need maximum flexibility that a pre-mixed formula won't allow.