Ironman Nutrition Strategy for Vegans

The often forgotten fourth discipline of triathlon is nutrition.  Stomach and muscle cramps, sloshy stomach, dehydration, fatigue, mental lapses can all be attributed to race day nutrition.  The following is what worked well for me on this particular day, however, I would likely do something different if I were to race another Ironman. To read the race re-cap press here.  Here are a few notes before I talk specifics…

  1. What works for some will not work for others.  
  2. What works for you once may only work once.  
  3. Pre-race nerves plays a part in digestion. 
  4. If in doubt do what has worked best in training, even if it is a little odd.
  5. If at any point you think that the race is too hard, eat some food, it will help. 

3:15-3:45—Breakfast. I blended maca powder, spirulina, hemp protein powder, chia seeds, almonds, blueberries, cherries, banana, goji berries, kale, spinach, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice and water. This made about a 1 litre smoothie.  1 cup cold-pressed coffee, to speed things up, so to say.

7:00— Race start

8:15— Finished swim and entered transition.  1 gel, 1 energy bar.

8:15-11:15—0-90Km bike.  2 bottles (800mL each) half coconut water, half water, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. 1 smoothie containing 1 banana, 3/4 cup brown rice flour, 2 Nuun tablets, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  1 gel.

11:15-14:15—90-180Km bike. The following was in my special needs bag:  2 large bottles (800mL each) half coconut water, half water, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.  1 smoothie containing 1 banana, 3/4 cup brown rice flour, 2 Nuun tablets, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  1 energy bar.  2 gels, one of which contained caffeine (consumed at 120km).  1 additional can of coconut water (consumed at special needs station).    

13:15—150Km bike.  Grabbed 1 bottle of Gatorade from aid station.  

14:15-18:30—Run.  Gel every 10Km or so with a cup of Gatorade and water at every feed station.  Final gel at 32Km.

 Some of the tasty treats I took with me on race day.

Some of the tasty treats I took with me on race day.

The morning smoothie was a little funky, largely due to the brown rice being in the mixture.  In future races I would opt for a simpler smoothie and I would eat the brown rice on its own.  The banana, brown rice flour, coconut water, and Nuun tablet concoction tasted excellent.  They contained approximately 600 calories each; I had two for the bike leg of the race.  I was attempting to do the whole race without using the provided aid stations, but I got tired of warm coconut water, so I switched to cold Gatorade.  I could tell my body needed something different to drink, so I listened.  I had good energy for the duration of the race and felt mentally sharp all day.  I had a tiny stomach cramp when I first started running but it went away quickly The cold-pressed coffee worked marvellously to speed things up.  I also dumped ice down my front and back—my running belt kept the ice near my midsection—and I hardly noticed the heat.  I never had the urge to go number two during the race.  I did go number one three times: once at 7Km into the run, once at 80Km into the bike, and once at the end of the swim.  Let’s be real; we all pee in the lake or the pool!  Did this help?  Let me know your thoughts.

Jason ManningComment