We have just come off a big weekend at half and full iron distance races. Before the race, the usual topic of nutrition arose, along with the familiar stories:
'I've completed three races now and I can't get my nutrition right. I always walk or have to stop at the toilets'.
Anybody that watches an Ironman race will see so many walking and struggling. In my opinion the cause is less about not being fit enough and more about fuelling incorrectly or inadequately.
If I ask the question, 'what did you eat the day before, and what did you consume during the race?', I inevitably get the answer:
'I take a gel here, another gel here, and the breakdown is x% protein, y% carbs and of z% fat. I take a salt tablet here and I start taking this gel with caffeine here.'
This is often followed up with:
'I take this amount of calories per hour because I read an article about eating a high fat diet I only need to take this amount of calories...'
After I give a common sense answer, nearly all want to argue their points with me. They've just wasted 2000 dollars in entry fees, travel, and accomodation; yet when they asked my advice they still insist they were correct!
The reply to such insanity can only be:
'why contact me if you already have it all worked out! If you want to walk, then go ahead and keep taking this marketing sh*t and walk!'
Bronze medal for Rei, 2021 ITU Long Distance World Championships, Almere.
Photo: ITU Media
Here is a real story that happened last month and was retold again this week when Reinaldo spoke to our group - a sort of 'this is what happened to me joke on the dinosaur coach'.
Reinaldo wrote to me before his ITU World Championship iron distance race last month:
'Boss, I haven't raced an Iron distance race for many years. We both know I'm not fit to do it, but I need to, so I want to get my nutrition the best possible way, to be as strong as I can be.'
I said, no problem, I'll send you a one page guide that always works.
He was happy, but only two days later he replied 'Boss, you sent me the same paper that you sent me in 2004. I still have that one somewhere.'
With my Coach hat on: 'Great, so you know what I advocate!'
Reinaldo - 'Boss, the paper is 17 years old. There are no new innovations for you?'
Coach - 'No!
Since you did your last ironman, which is now so far back, I give this sheet to all my Ironman people. Like you they want to experiment with all their new sponsor products. However, after three ordinary races most contact me and say how do I fix it. So I send this document, and say, follow this in your next race and let's see how we go. With no exceptions, all have great races.
They do it again for maybe one more race then they get influenced again by all the triathlon expert noise, and sponsors selling their products. The same thing happens again, energy crash half way through the run. I don't insist they follow my advice like I used to, they do as they wish. However, I'm just telling you, it worked in 1994 and it still works in 2021, it is your choice!
Reinaldo - 'Boss, you know I love chocolate, and I love syrup in any way. We go old style on this one, as I just hope I can make it!'
The upshot of this story is that Rei did not only make it, he made it onto the podium for his first World Championship medal. The two things we both agreed on, was he was fit enough for a half distance race as he coming off an ITU Olympic program.
The second was this, and I'll let Rei have the 2nd last word:
'Boss, my energy level was very high the whole race'
The last word is from me - 'If it works, it doesn't get old'.
Just the way I see it!