Monday, May 16, 2011

Ironman Nutrition Plan

As you all know I am a big fan of First Endurance nutrition for all of my training and racing.  There is a reason for the FE love:  First Endurance is owned by Triathletes and they make products specifically for Triathletes.  This may sound like a marketing ploy and at first I too was skeptical, until I used the products.  You can go back through the many, many posts on this blog and read about all of the different types of gels, drinks, bars, and salt tabs I have sampled over the years.  They all are average (at best) when compared to the First Endurance product line.

Since FE has done such a remarkable job of differentiating itself from the other nutrition companies I will be using them for most of my race at Ironman Texas on Saturday.  PowerBar Perform, Bars, and Gels are the official IM sponsor so they will be the on course provided nutrition.  I will use this when my FE supply is depleted.

I read an article by Pro Triathlete Michael Lovato after he raced Kona last year and he described his IM nutrition in detail.  He is a little bigger than me so my calories won't be as high as his but I am going to use a similar plan based on his recommendation.  Find that article HERE.

Here is my plan:

Race Morning:

Wake up at 3am and eat a whole wheat bagel (250 calories) with peanut butter (2 spoons - 200 calories) and wash down with a cup of coffee (black) and 2 scoops (320 calories) of Ultragen Recovery drink.  I am aware Ultragen is a recovery drink but I have been training with Ultragen before my longer swim and bike workouts and it has really agreed with me. I like the calories before long efforts.  Then I will go back to sleep until 4:30am.

At 4:30am I will wake-up again and have a banana (135 calories).

I will then walk to transition with a 24oz bottle of EFS Drink (200 calories/2000 electrolytes) and sip on this as I walk to the swim start.  About 10 minutes before we enter the water I will have 2 shots of EFS Liquid Shots (200 calories/600 electrolytes) just to keep the blood sugar level from dipping.

Total Calories before race:  1,305 in 3.5hrs or 372 per hour.

Bike Nutrition:

3 bottles of EFS Drink with 200 calories per bottle (600 calories total). Large drink every 30 minutes.
2 flasks (10oz) of EFS Liquid Shots (800 calories total).  Plan to take every 45mins, should actually only be about 8oz total.
Alternate between water and Ironman Perform at each bottle hand-up.  (200 per bottle x 4 = 800 calories)

Total Calories on the bike:  2200 in roughly 6hrs or 366 per hour.

Run Nutrition:

Begin the run with my Nathan's hand held bottle.  This will be filled with water and I will refill at each station with Perform or water.  I will also carry a 5oz flask of EFS Liquid Shots in my tri jersey.  This is 500 calories and I usually will take a hit every 30 minutes.  This will get me through 2.5hrs and then I will just live off the course.  Each refill of Perform will be about 180 calories in my hand held.  My stomach does very well with perform, especially if I sip between each aid station as opposed to downing large amounts of liquid at each station.

I am choosing to run with the hand held bottle because I train with it and since it is going to be hot and humid I would prefer to constantly take in liquid as opposed to my stomach getting sloshy at each aid station.

Total Calories on the Run:  ???  Estimate will be around 180-200 per hour so if it takes 5hr then 1000 calories.  If it takes only 4hr then 800 calories.

Another key nutritional requirement for what is more than likely going to be a 90 degree day with Texas-sized humidity will be my sodium intake.  One of the main reasons I use FE products is because of the large quantities of sodium in both EFS Drink (1100+ Electrolytes) and Liquid Shots (1500+ Electrolytes).  On a hot day this is essential.  Many Ironman participants complained when PowerBar Perform because the exclusive on course sport drink replacing Gatorade - I though this was great because Perform has over 600mg of sodium per 20oz bottle. Gatorade is like a quarter of this amount.  This is like taking two (2) Salt Tabs per drink.  This is essential on hot & humid days!

Now I have an extremely high sweat rate so I am going to have a few salt tabs on the course just to be safe.  I will keep some in my bento box and in my run special needs bag but really I do not intend to use them.  They are just more of a fall back if I begin to cramp.

So this is my plan.  I have been practicing and tweaking it for over 6 months and am pretty confident it hits my nutritional needs.

Feel free to critique and tell me your plan but with the race 5 days out I am not changing a thing!

Next post will be my Goals and then tracking information.

Thanks for Reading,



  1. Glad you have to eat all of those calories and not me. Reading all of that made my head spin. Glad you've got it down and have been putting it to the test over the last 6 months. Very smart! Hard to believe you will be an Ironman in less than 1 week!!

  2. smart to write your plan out! due to the heat at IMCOZ my former coaches had recommended drinking 2 bottles of powerbar endurance an hour until i peed... then to go bck to your normally scheduled program. so you might want to increase your liquid intake on the bike...just in case the heat gets to you. same with salt tabs - i never use them in training but given the hot conditions, to take a few over the course of the bike.

  3. what? no gummi bears, starbursts, or jelly beans? wait, your texan, no beef jerky? you could get your sodium intake that way.

    i agree, i am a HUGE fan of first endurance and I have everyone on the bandwagon now. look out FE nation!

  4. Mark - a bunch of my buddies are on the beef jerky plan!!! Some of them are carrying freaking buffets -- I carry 2 Liquid Shot flasks in my jersey, 2 bottles (downtubes), and 1 aero bottle for refills during hand ups. All the other food is too damn confusing. I am ADHD so simple is better.

  5. Can I just follow you and if I need anything ask you for it??? I would pay, of course..... bring your credit card machine...
    6:45 Grotto....

  6. OH
    And good luck on the going back to sleep at 3:whatever....

  7. Awesome that you have it dialed in like that. It makes such a huge difference in IM racing! And if you're smaller than Michael Lovato (he trained here a tiny bit when dating Amanda), then you're one small, lean guy!!

  8. Me thinks you are going to be up from 3:00 on. :)

    Looks solid - you know what works for you. And you might be surprised what looks/sounds good on the run. Oreos can be extremely appealing around mile 16! :)

  9. I am such a Tri rookie that I find this whole post interesting. I am curious as to how you're going to go back to sleep after slamming a cup of joe.

  10. Jeff, you're the man for knowing what you need and making a plan for it. I hope it works out super well and you rock this IM. Good luck!

  11. The fact that you have been practicing this and tweaking it for 6 months means that you GOT THIS on race day. Just follow the plan. Just follow the plan.

    With one mile left on the run, GO FOR IT!

  12. def LOVE ur plan and ur thinking. has been just an awesome help for me to read
    interesting link to Lovato and I know you have done sweat calcs, but I think im gonna continue to go on feel...ill probably pay for that at some point!

    have a great race, enjoy it you worked for it.

    do you get to sleep in your own bed?


  13. Glad you have this all figured out. Are you going to bring a notebook with all the details though so you can remember it? Seriously though, have you though about marking your bottles with tape with notes on it for your plan? One of things I have heard (and witnessed at IMWI last year) is that by the time the athletes get to T2 they are so mentally exhausted that they have forgotten what they planned on doing.

    Can't wait to hear how it goes!

  14. wow, just learned about the first endurance.

    many thanks!

  15. Looks like a great plan, Jeff. Kick ass this weekend!

  16. Solid plan dude! Have you gotten to experiment with much of it? You are such a good organizer so I think you'll kill it! You must be excited!

  17. Sounds like a solid plan except for the going back to sleep after the cup of coffee at 3am! I haven't tried the EFS products yet but am aware of their growing popularity. Hammer Nutrition has been serving me well thus far.

  18. Ever Ironman veteran I have talked with said to bring some real food, that you will eventually be sick and tired of your normal race nutrition. And everyone said, I mean everyone said, drink the chicken broth when they offer it late in the run.

    Your calulation are right on the spot for text book nutrition

  19. Kevin and BDD have a good point. HOWEVER if you didn't practice it... race day might not be a good time to try it.

    My only thoughts are holy flipping peeing man, you are gonna pee yourself all day!

    Thanks for posting this. I am with you, sip the damn bottle, DO NOT chug EVER on the run. This has helped my GI issues and the "sloshing" issues. SIPPING is key.


  20. Thank you so much for this post. I am going to start using this nutrition plan for Ironman Triathlon.

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