My husband and I just spent the last 7 months training for the endurance race to top all endurance races. Ironman Lake Placid was our goal.
We completed it six years ago together (at the time we had two children). We had some lofty goals this time around, so we knew we had our work cut out for us. It was a journey that we took together and that culminated in the historic Olympic Village of Lake Placid, amidst the breathtaking Adirondacks. Lake Placid holds a very special place in our hearts. We’ve been going up there for the past 10 years, so we would chose no other place in the world to race the Ironman! As a triathlon coach and sports dietitian, I was on a mission to create a training plan that would help us achieve our goals. We now have four children (ages 8, 7, 5, 3) so our parental life challenges have exponentially increased since 2006. With two children in school full-day, one in school half day and my 3 year old still home full-time, we had to get creative.
The number one priority when training for an event like the Ironman is fueling your body properly on a consistent basis. We needed to monitor our nutrition to make sure we were eating enough protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and drinking enough liquids. We made sure that our glycogen storage was in tip-top shape and that we had optimal recovery after every workout. This naturally increased our strength and power. Since we were continuously “squeezing in” workouts between picking the kids up at the bus stop, taking them to swim team practice, or making it to a hockey game an hour away, we needed a convenient way to eat right. I’m sure you can guess what I’m going to say next… The NutriBullet is a crucial tool for any athlete. This is especially true for the time-crunched endurance athlete. The ability to pack multiple macro and micronutrients into one snack is essential and the NutriBullet does just that.
In the months to come, I am going to give away some of the secrets that carried us through seven months of training and through the actual race of a lifetime. I am also going to blog about the fundamental components of sports nutrition to get you to the finish line – whether you’re thinking about doing a sprint distance triathlon, running a half marathon, going for the Iron distance, or just want to feel better on your active weekend excursions.
It just so happens that I had worked with a number of athletes who were taking on the same challenge of Ironman Lake Placid 2012, so this race was particularly important to me in that I was providing training plans and race plans for others, as well. I’m going to start my NutriBullet blog by answering the most commonly asked question I got asked from my athletes:
“What do I eat the night before a race?”
This sounds like a simple question, but it’s actually quite complex. I always have to take into consideration other personal factors such as food sensitivities, training intensity, race distance, and metabolic efficiency. It is important to experiment with different fuel sources throughout the months of training to find out what works best for your body. Nutrition is very much individual and based on each athlete’s ability to burn and utilize substrates. What I did find helpful was a new combination that provided the perfect amount of nutrients to fuel the Iron distance race. No matter what foods you choose, a few basic sports nutrition principles suit most people’s needs.
I always start with carbohydrates, because you need to ensure that your muscles have enough glycogen stored to start the race. It will not last the entire race due to the fact that you are burning through it quite quickly, but your first concern is to start with a full tank.
Secondly, you need to balance the carbohydrate load with protein. This will serve two purposes. First it will ensure that your muscles have their building blocks available (amino acids) for use. It also slows the absorption of the carbohydrates into your blood stream to avoid a sharp blood sugar spike.
Also include electrolytes. Sodium is the most important because you will be losing a lot of it during the race. It plays a key role in hydration, as well.
Lastly you will consider adding vitamins and minerals to balance out the meal. I recommend choosing low residue fruits and vegetables (i.e. low fiber) so that you don’t overwhelm the digestion process on the eve before the race. There are a lot of nerves and anxiety, so fiber will not be your friend if you consume too much of it right before the race. (FYI, this is the absolute opposite advice I give at all other times when it comes to healthy eating during training.)
Did I overwhelm you yet? I’m about to make it easy. The following recipe is a perfect combination of everything I just described. So that leads me into my actual pre-Ironman Meal recipe! This is a relatively new creation and both my husband and I are having strong seasons thus far, so I must add that it’s working!
Power-Packed Pre-Race Pasta
- White Pasta of your choice (I prefer a low fat egg pasta, because they have more protein than regular semolina pasta.)
- Grilled chicken breast cut into strips
- 1 small jar of roasted red peppers
- 1 cup V-8 juice
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup diced tomato
- ¼ cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- Cook pasta according to package (al dente is the optimal way to eat most pasta), drain with colander and set aside.
- Combine the roasted red peppers, V-8 juice, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and paprika in the NutriBullet and blast!
- Begin Sautéing the mushrooms. When they are beginning to soften add the tomatoes.
- When the tomatoes look just about done, add the sauce and pasta and continue to heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Finally add the baby spinach leaves until they wilt and top with the cooked strips of grilled chicken breast.
- Pour onto pasta bowl and enjoy!
This meal correlates with the basic principles discussed above. The pasta is your source of carbohydrate, the chicken breast serves as your lean protein, and the V-8 is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, sodium and other electrolytes. The vegetables are all low residue and the olive oil gives a boost of healthy fat to the meal. Eat this the night before your next race or next endurance workout and try it for yourself.
Of course the amount you eat will depend on the distance and intensity of your race or workout. Make sure you drink enough water with this meal to boost hydration status.