As a Brief Background:
Daniel Martin (27) recently completed his first Half Iron Man in Durban on the 1st August 2015. He first sought my help in the beginning of 2015, knowing that good nutrition would take his training to the next level. I worked with him to formulate a comprehensive diet plan including dietary guidelines, training guidelines, a full meal plan, supplement recommendations, and fueling and recovery recommendations.
Now that he has completed the event in an awesome 5hours and 45minutes, I wanted to gain some feedback regarding his nutrition plan.
When did you first decide to do the Iron Man, and why?
Ironman was always something I wanted to do I had just never taken the conscious decision to sign up. A friend called me up one day and said we doing this – end of discussion!! That was in in February and gave us what we thought was enough preparation (+- 5 months) to get ready for the race.
What did you think was going to be the toughest part about this race?
As I am not a natural swimmer I always knew that to train the swim was going to be tough. I also knew that we would be training in winter in Johannesburg, which is never easy, and so it was important that we got into early habits of training 5 to 6 times a week.
Before seeing a sports dietitian, did you have any fueling or recovery strategies that you used for training or competitive events?
No – I was all for eating a good meal before, lots of carbs and then only drinking water during and after. Mistake #1!!!
What impact did changing your diet have on your training?
It was actually astonishing the difference that good nutrition made for me during the training, especially on the bike ride where we would train for up to 4 hours at a time. I found I had a lot longer lasting energy and my recovery time on the bike was much quicker. I also found my breathing improved a lot too, which was a huge help when training at altitude here in Johannesburg.
Of the contents of your nutrition plan, what did you find was the most valuable?
Cutting out excess carbs and sugars worked well, but for me the most valuable was the MCT powder.
During the race, what supplements or foods did you take with you?
On race day I had 2 boiled eggs and cheese, a cup of filter coffee, full cream yoghurt and a nut granola mix. On the ride I had some “power balls” made up of 4 different kinds of raw nuts, dates, honey and cacao powder. Before the run I had 3 sticks of dry woers and another powerball. This was coupled with 3 bottles of water mixed with MCT powder and peak endurance.
Did you find that these were sufficient to fuel you during the event
More than sufficient!!
What was the toughest part of the race for you
The swim was by far the hardest and it hurt me physically and mentally for the rest of the race.
What would you do differently (in terms of nutrition) if you had to do it again?
I would eat more earlier on in the ride and not eat too much before the run. My biggest mistake was eating too much too late. It didn’t digest properly and it affected the first 10km of my run.
What advice would you give to someone considering doing half Iron Man in the future?
Train the run the hardest, as this is where you can make up the most time. Give yourself at least 5 months before to start training and make sure you know what works for you and what doesn’t when it comes to nutrition. There is a saying that goes, “when training make sure you train the 4 disciplines, swimming, riding, running and eating”. Understand what works for your body and then make sure you get your body used to that. Most of all enjoy it and set yourself a goal, it will drive you to succeed when you hit the dark days of training!!! It’s a fantastic event and well worth the sacrifice!!