Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eat and run

(Note: I know many of you were waiting breathlessly for the resolution to my bicycle maintenance saga, but I have something far more useful for you today. Don't worry, I'll relay the results of the process, and the ride that follows in my next post.)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a few of my thoughts on what to eat prior to working out.

Since being linked by Fat Cyclist, readership has grown. That readership has also started interacting with the blog via comments. This is highly encouraged as it makes me feel like people are getting value from my writing famous and important. I've even gotten a couple of emails, one of which was from Derek. Derek informed me that he had recently attended a presentation on race day nutrition taught by Coach Karen Buxton, and he wanted to share that content with me. In turn, I wanted to share it with you; as I feel there is significant value to this information with race season approaching so quickly (our season opener is 2 months from today).

Coach Buxton is a USA Triathlon Level III coach, one of about 20 currently certified as such in the world. This compares to about 300 Level II coaches and 1200 Level I coaches worldwide (ballpark coaching figures courtesy of a quick call to USA Triathlon HQ this evening). Basically she's an experts expert when it comes to training triathletes from newbies on up to Kona qualifiers. She's also an Expert-Level coach according to USA Cycling, and a published author (my dream job) to boot.

I am always amazed by people who are members of such elite groups, but Karen has an even stronger pedigree behind her in terms of race experience. Her competitive resume is long and impressive, but the two items that struck me as especially awesome were completing the 2002 RAAM (Race Across AMerica) and winning her age group in the 2007 US Duathlon Championship. She's also finished Ironman Hawaii and done a bunch of other generally amazing athletic events. To top it all off, she has corresponded via email with me, so I assume she now feels truly accomplished.

In short, she knows what she's talking about. On top of that, she's also kind and gracious and has allowed me to share her nutrition presentation with everyone who reads the blog. I'm going to break down, summarize, and offer my $.02 on the presentation; but I want to start by providing a link to the full original presentation.

Simply follow this link, and then click on the download button to get the Powerpoint file.

This one of the best presentations I've ever seen on nutrition, especially from my perspective as a larger athlete. What I like about it in no particular order:

  • It offers guidance, but with flexibility. The best nutrition information recognizes we can't all eat the same
  • There's some math for when you fall outside the guidelines: The talking points at the bottom of slide 5 provide a nice formula to help you determine how many grams of carbohydrates (CHO as they're referred to in the presentation) you should consider taking in prior to the race. (ie. 0.5g of CHO x 315 = ~157 grams x 4 cal/g = 628 calories)
  • Several options are presented to meet each intake need, so you aren't pointed in a single direction that might not work for you (ie I will not drink Boost or Ensure; I'm a fat athlete, not a septuagenarian)
  • For me, Timberman is in the range displayed on slide 9, in terms of time spent on the course (4 to 12 hours), and that slide provides a nice starting point for laying out a race nutrition plan.
  • The basic cause and effect lists on slide 10 also give great points on how to adjust intake based on how you're feeling

In general, I think the presentation is excellent. There are probably some places where I'll have to make alterations to the recommendations, as would other larger athletes. Much as people who have trouble with having anything in their stomach during exercise need to make special plans, those of us with too much in our stomachs need to do the same.

Additionally, sports drinks are discussed; but energy drinks are not. Most 70.3 races and above offer de-fizzed soda, so caffeine is not fully discouraged. While I'm not a fan of Monster or others of it's ilk for race days, I have found that a 5 Hour Energy shot does help me get past the "bonked" feeling I get at the end of almost every swim.

In conclusion, I hope this information is as beneficial (or at least interesting) to you as it was to me. Prior to reading this, I hadn't a clue as to how I would tackle on-course eating, other than a big bag of Double Cheeseburgers energy bars. Thankfully, most of the thought has been done for me and I can now focus on finding a way to store all that stuff on my bike.


  1. Now you're making me feel famous! I'm glad you found it useful and contacted coach Buxton.
    If you have time and want to link my name to my blog that'd be cool too. Hope the rest of your mechanic stuff went great.

    I am also in training for a 70.3 I'll be doing Beach to Battleship this November.

  2. Derek - I completely wanted to, but for some reason I had trouble tracking down your original comment with your blog address in it. I'll fix that shortly.

  3. Thanks Ben! I hate the mornings of temptation. My office does doughnuts once a month or so and its horrible!