Fueling: A Weekend Of Ups, Downs And Lessons

Fueling an endurance athletes lifestyle is paramount to recovery and being able to get out the door to do the next day's or even the same day's workout.  I am a big proponent of food for fuel and that recovering properly is beyond important.  Fueling or also re-fueling gives your body the nutrients it needs to continue working your training regiment.  This weekend was a story of fueling and re-fueling properly and improperly, but as normal I learned a lot about what I need to do for next weekend's workouts. As I posted in my Ironman Texas - Monthly Progress Report I have entered into the build phase which means two things:
  1. Workouts will get longer.
  2. Workouts will get harder.
Clearly, fueling properly for these workout is going to be the key to executing the workouts so that I get the most out of them.  Ironman Texas is 48 days away and while fueling before and after workouts is important, I am also re-learning to fuel during my workouts.  I say re-learning because I am trying to avoid the HoneyStingers I have grown accustomed to using as I think that lead to some of my weight gain going into and after Ironman Arizona.  HoneyStingers also have wheat and whole wheat flour in them that I have been keeping out of my diet for the past 3 months or so.

Fueling Build Phase Weekend #1

Here is how I was fueling for the workouts on the docket this weekend and how I felt before, during, and after the workouts.  Keep in mind that this is the high intensity phase or Ironman training and is not typical of what an entire training cycle looks like.  If you have specific questions based on your training please leave them in the comments or use the contact me form and I will do my best to help you out.

Saturday:

  • Training:
    • 4 hour 30 minute bike ride with a progressive increase in heart rate from Zone 1 to finish with 1 hour in Zone 3.
    • 40 minute run while keeping my heart rate in Zone 1
  • Pre-Fueling:
    • A 90 calorie shake with homemade nut butter, honey and banana on corn this.
    • 410 calories, 68g Carbohydrates, 12g Fat, 18g Protein, 11g Fiber consumed two hours prior to the workout.
  • During-Fueling:
    • 1057 calories of sports drink that also had 236g Carbohydrates, 15g Protein, 0g Fat
    • I brought a ziploc bag of dried pineapple and raisins but did not consume any.
  • Post-Fueling:
    • Vegan Banana Bread With 2 Eggs
    • 788 calories, 111g Carbohydrates, 29g Fat, 34g Protein, 19g Fiber.
    • Made sure that I hit the all-important 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio for optimal recovery.
[caption id="attachment_7765" align="aligncenter" width="300"]fuel - triathlon - training - recovery meal Vegan Banana Bread With Homemade Nut Butter, Goji Berries And Blueberries.[/caption] During the ride I felt very strong and felt I had hit the fueling properly.  Of course, at Ironman Texas I will be going harder than this ride and thus the dried pineapple and raisins will come into play and is something I will have to work into my training to make sure that it doesn't cause any GI distress.  Post-training fueling was not only ideal in the carb to protein ratio but it also tasted great and when you can have both you are doing something right.

Sunday:

  • Training:
    • 1 hour 5 minute run with progressive increases in heart rate and finish with a 20 minute tempo run.
    • After a minimum of a 2 hour recovery rode the bike on the trainer for 1 hour with interval sets.
    • 55 minute run immediately after the ride while keeping a steady pace in Zone 2.
  • Pre-Fueling:
    • The same shake but this time with no food as it was only a one hour run.  I drank the shake about 1 hour before I started the run.
    • 90 calories, 14g Carbohydrates, 2g Fat, 10g Protein
  • Post Session #1 Fueling:
    • A whey protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing the run that I would use as a recovery drink and a pre-fueling for the next training sessions.
    • 140 calories, 16g Carbohydrates, 2g Fat, 17g Protein
  • During Fueling of all three sessions:
    • Water as I figured these were shorter sets but didn't think about the cumulative effect of the three hours.
  • Post Session #2 Fueling:
    • A 3:1 Carb:Protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing the workout.
    • Egg Tostadas which had homemade corn tortillas, eggs, sweet potatoes, olives, black beans and jalapeño peppers.
    • 781 calories, 104g Carbohydrates, 20g Fat, 48g Protein, 15g Fiber
[caption id="attachment_7766" align="aligncenter" width="300"]fueling - recovery meal - triathlon - ironman Breakfast / Brunch Egg Tostadas[/caption] The weather in Dallas has gotten warm but the humidity has gone through the roof and this may have caused some dehydration on the second run.  I felt as if my legs had lead in them and I was running in molasses by the end and quickly knew I made a mistake with my fueling both between sets and during the second set.  When I look back at it I would have been smart to have a banana between sets to help my fueling for the 2nd set as well as have an electrolyte based drink with me on the trainer at the very least. Fueling is very individual and even when you think you have it nailed down there could be changes that are needed.  Maybe you live in a cold climate but your race is in a warm (or hot) location and thus your water intake needs to be adjusted.  Maybe the amount of calories needs to be increased to avoid that dreaded bonk.  This is not an exact science, not even refueling is.  I mentioned the 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio as being optimal but I have also read where 4:1 is the perfect combination.  Suffice it to say that getting in at least 3:1 is important, but so is timing.  Typically, your optimal window is between 30 minutes and 45 minutes post workout as your body is ready to take on the nutrients to refuel your body for the next day's workout.

Do You Practice Your Fueling During Your Training?

Have Any Fueling Tips You Want To Share?

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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