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Posted by on Jul 28, 2011 in Athletics, Movement, Nutrition

Paleo-ish Triathlon

Paleo-ish Triathlon

So, the title of a Paleo Triathlon is WAY misleading, because I have yet to a Tri with paleo nutrition. I still use my gels and gatorade on the course. Switching over to honey, dates, and coconut water would be doable, but I still have not made the commitment. 

What I have been experimenting with is a concept called metabolic conditioning. I first heard about this from an interview on my favorite podcast IMTalk. They had this bloke on name Bob Seebohar. A lot of what he was talking about really made sense and was just so almost paleo! Well turns out that Bob was a grad student at CSU working with Loren Cordain, and it all made sense. Bob’s big plan is that just as we train our bodies for sport by doing training runs, rides, lifts etc, we must also train our metabolic system to become better at burning fat rather than carbohydrates. 

He has been very successful with several iron distance triathletes, in really bringing down the required number of calories during the 12+ hours of racing. One of the limiting factors for many long distance athletes is getting our guts to digest and process glucose during race-pace efforts. Well, if we are burning more fat, then we do not need as many calories during the race! 

Basically paleo thoughts but targeted to sports nutrition. I highly recommend reading his new book that was just published. It’s not strictly paleo but it’s all easily applied.

As I have become more paleo, I have noticed that I too require few calories during long distance efforts. This is fantastic for several obvious reasons. I don’t take as many gels etc with me during a race meaning I don’t have to buy as many or carry them with me the whole time. I also feel better, have less racing gut, and generally perform better. 

Sometimes, however, I undershoot my requirements. Lame. This is exactly what I did at Scofield. I took 200 cal of gel with me on the bike. I should have taken 300. I know that does not seem like a lot, but I think it would have prevented my big bonk during mile 1 and 2 of the run. I think I mis-judged how long the swim was going to take me. The extra time and effort combined with how hard the bike was really put me over the edge. In retrospect, I think I will keep 100 extra cal on the bike than I think I would need just in case. 

I felt great as I finished up the bike, and then BOOM. I felt awful. All at once. The feeling totally got into my head. 

I felt slow. I felt down. Mentally. Physically. 

I have never quit a race, but right then I really felt like I could’ve. 

Right as I was feeling that, another race caught up to me. He had a huge grin on his face, and told me that he stoked that he finally caught up to me and that he had been trying throughout the entire bike leg. Immediately, I perked up. We ran together for a mile, before I let him pass. 

I love people and smiles during races. 

For the next 3 miles I took in some very needed calories. But I just felt sooooo slow this first part. My running form felt great, I was POSE-ing great. But I really had no energy. About mile 4 this started to changed. Then by mile 5 I felt pretty dang good and back to normal. 

Here are my run splits from the race. The first mile was down a hill, while conversely the last mile was up that same hill. Take a look first, then we will discuss. 

So, quite oddly during my “bonk” I kept a pretty ok pace. I was trying to hit 9 min/mile, and I wasn’t too far off this. The whole bonk was super mental I think at this point. Even though I felt slow and crappy my times did not lag too much. They certainly were not great, but not terrible. Clearly my best efforts were miles 5-9 and then mile 10 was up the hill. 

My runtime was 1:39, which was about 10 minutes slower than last year.  I wonder what I could have done with that extra 100 calories before the run. Next time I guess. 

Overall, I took 4:45 to finish the course, which was good enough for 11th of 37 total participants at this distance. The group ends up being a pretty good group of athletes because of the difficulty, so I am pretty happy with my overall result. Still overall my time was 6 min slower than last year. 

My take aways for this race: 

1. Sport specific training is crucial

2. Take an extra 100 cal on the bike just in case. 

3. Bonking is mental…just keep going!

I am heading out to LA this weekend for the CrossFit Games!! I am very excited to go and help by being a medical volunteer. If you in LA then look for me in a med volunteer T-shirt!