Category Archives: Nutrition

IM FL 2008: Sorry Accelerade, Switching to First Endurance EFS

Well these last weeks have been a bit tortuous. Not because of pain in my muscles due to training though. It’s been through my sports drink.
On my long runs, I’ve always used Accelerade lemon-lime. But this year, I’ve been having major stomach problems. Two things, one definite, and one hypothetical. First, Accelerade tends to froth up when shaken. So when I’m running, my body movement causes Accelerade in my Fuel Belt to develop bubbles. I suck down the drink, plus the bubbles; then I get gas in my stomach. Very bad. Second, Accelerade has soy protein in it. I think this is the second problem where my digestion has come to reject soy protein during physical activity. This has caused some diarrhea problems post-runs.
I switched to First Endurance EFS. It doesn’t use soy protein. Also, when its taste is very light compared to Accelerade. I seem to like less taste these days than more; then I don’t get a gummy feeling in my mouth which makes me more thirsty. Most importantly, when you shake it up, it doesn’t froth. It remains an unbubbly fluid.
Yesterday I went for a great 2:49 run over almost 18 miles. I accelerated each of 3 six mile loops and had zero stomach problems. Voila! Found my new sports drink!
Sorry Accelerade. I loved and used you for many years, but my digestion doesn’t tolerate you any more.

On Nutrition: Email to Buddy, Going For His First Half IM

Sent to my buddy, who was concerned about his nutrition. My half IM (and some full IM) nutrition plan:

First, congratulations and great job in reaching this point to undertake your first half IM!
Second, here my views on nutrition:
Although I also have tried to add up calories over time at one point, I have found that it is something that is super hard to quantify like that, and I’m not sure it’s useful. Race conditions change and so does your body over time.
For instance, I tried to follow similar nutrition plans at Half Vineman and Honu Half but at the Honu Half, it was a lot hotter and my stomach shut down at one point whereby fluid was sloshing around in there. So I had to stop taking in fluid until my stomach calmed down, and also I walked a lot too. A short while later, magically the fluid in my stomach just got absorbed all of a sudden and then I ran to the finish. This has never happened to me at Half Vineman where the temps are different.
As for my body, I have found that over time, I don’t need to dump so much nutrition down as my body’s natural strength, endurance, and fitness have risen. At one time I would fill up my water bottles with 1.5 scoops of Accelerade and then an extra scoop of Carbo Pro just to top it off. I found out that doing this meant that after a long ride, I would get diarrhea from too many calories going in and my body just not being able to process it, causing stomach problems. So I backed off on this and only use 1 scoop Accelerade for even a tall water bottle and I don’t have any problems, AND I’m getting faster AND I’m not bonking either. So overloading on calories obviously wasn’t going to make me faster.
Fine tuning your nutrition is something you should be doing during training, so hopefully you’ve found your plan. DO NOT DEVIATE from your plan no matter what! Everyone says this but we often don’t follow our own advice. You could really mess yourself up if you don’t. I’ve seen people throw up on the course and you ask them afterwards what happened and some of the time they deviated from plan! If you don’t throw up during training, you’ll probably be ok for the race.
I have many more problems with cramping, so I dump in 3 scoops of Endurolyte powder into each tall water bottle, and one scoop into each 10oz Fuel Belt bottle. I also take 3 Saltstick tabs per hour (1 every 20 min), in addition to the electrolytes in my fluids. This I have tested and have shown no negative effects on this, and it seems to help me control my cramping since I sweat a lot AND I’m a weak piece of shit so cramping comes naturally to me.
Here’s my nutrition plan for a half IM (note full IM is slightly different):
3 hours before the race start, I eat a hard boiled egg, and 1/4 plain bagel. Then I sit on the toilet and crap out whatever I can (believe me you don’t want to take a crap on the course if you can avoid it; plus I’ve seen racers with brown streaks out their butts on their race shorts because they had to crap and it just started coming out yuck!). I drink down a cup of First Endurance Pre-Race with a carbo drink, usually I just use Endurox recovery drink before the race (as well as after). I also dump a packet of Emergen-C in there too.
Before the swim starts, I take a Powergel (w/ extra sodium).
After the swim before the bike, I put down another Powergel. I get on my bike and ride. For half IM on the bike, I usually use 2 large water bottles with one scoop Accelerade and 3 scoops Endurolyte powder each.
Usually I don’t start taking any more down for a while until my body gets accustomed to riding. I find that I really don’t need my first nutrition until 45-1 hr in. But i do start taking salt tabs on my 20 min schedule immediately (it’s important to not get into an electrolyte deficit early), and sipping fluids about every 15 min. I take a Powergel every 45 min, a Saltstick tab every 20 min, and sip my water bottle to wash down everything. Depending on the air temp, I may sip more or less than every 20 min.
Generally, I go through 2 large water bottles in a half IM. After I finish one, I immediately toss it to increase my aerodynamics.
If my stomach feels too full, I may wait a bit before my next sip or nutrition.
Hopping off the bike, I go into T2. I keep my eye on my watch and keep fueling my Powergels every 45 min, continuing from when I was on the bike. I may grab a cup of gatorade on the way out, as usually there is a nutrition station at T2 exit.
For half IM, I carry 2 10oz Fuel Belt bottles of Accelerade. But I mix it in another small water bottle so I fill the bottle up, and put one scoop in there, and then dump 2 scoops Endurolyte powder in there. Then I squirt it into 2 10oz bottles.
At some point, I may try to do the race without carrying my own fluids, but now I am too paranoid about my electrolyte problems and cramping to trust only what is out there on the course. Also, sometimes even half ironman aid stations will run out and it’s nice to have something to sip if you can’t get something on the course.
But inevitably, I am supplementing my Fuel Belt fluids with whatever is on the course. If I reach an aid station and I’m about to take a gel, I’ll just drink a Gatorade there instead of sipping from my bottles. I am a huge fan of cola so I will definitely drink that over my own fluids, but at most half IMs you won’t find cola, only at full IMs.
Still i gel every 45 min, and take Saltstick tabs every 20 min.
This has seemed to work well for me but it was developed very organically and not very scientifically. Still, I have not bonked ever on a race so thats a plus. I have had other problems but never bonked thankfully.
Check out this article:
Feed the Machine, Triathlete Magazine
In looking at what you’re doing, the only thing I might change is to eat the powerbar earlier. Digestive systems start working not as well as time goes on, and your body is more able to deal with solid foods earlier in the race than later.
But note that I only eat energy bars during full IM where I usually put down at least 2, sometimes 3 bars in the first 3 hours. My bar of choice is the Balance Bar Yogurt Honey Peanut. It is very plain tasting and easy to chew. I hate Powerbars because they are so chewy and require more water for me to get down. But i have found that half IMs are short enough that you don’t need to have solid food and can do well on gels alone. Besides, eating a bar is harder than gels. You have to unwrap them, take a bite, and then put them back somewhere. If you’re going to eat an energy bar, I would time it out. I usually take a 1/4 bar bite every 15 min, so by the end of 1 hour it’s gone. Sometimes I take smaller bites, so it’s gone after 1.25 or 1.5 hours. But i stop when my stomach feels too full.
Important: do not forget to take nutrition down! Keep focused on the race and keep to your schedule of putting down nutrition. The only time to stop a bit is if your stomach starts to hurt, feel too full, or if you feel like throwing up. Back off on the nutrition then and slow down too, until your system returns.
At each aid station on the run, I take from a mouthful of fluid to a full small cup. Then I wash my mouth out with some water because i hate that sticky feeling. Try not to over drink at an aid station. Just take the drink and move on.
One note: slowing down at an aid station means extra time on the race. At IM WA, for the first half, I didn’t stop at all and only took fluid from my Fuel Belt. that strategy fell apart later….ha. But I did reach the half way point faster than I ever have on an IM.
Another point about your plan below. If you are going to bike about 3 hours, then if you gel every 45 min, you should take down 4 gels approximately. If you take one every hour, you’re going to need 3.
Always take with you one more gel than you think you’ll need, both on the bike and run. I’ve fumbled gels before on the bike due to cold fingers and always glad i had an extra. Plus you may take longer than you think on the bike, or more likely on the run. You definitely don’t want to run out of nutrition on the run. That has happened to me before where I thought I would run a certain time but took a lot longer!

Food for thought. Pun intended.

The Pill and Powder Round-Up

All in all, I had a great racing year. It was the first year I really pumped up the pill and powder usage. Here is a breakdown of what I used and some of the informal results I’ve seen:
Accelerade, Lemon-Lime
I continued to use Accelerade Lemon-Lime as my primary drink mix for my bottles on both the bike and run.
Endurolyte Powder
In each water bottle and Fuel belt bottle, I dump in 2 scoops of Endurolyte powder as I am a heavy sweater and need electrolytes to help prevent cramping. Man was I covered in salty, sweat grit after IM WA!
Saltstick pills
I have a little ziploc bag which contains Saltstick pills. I take 3 per hour, one every 20 minutes. This is in support of the Endurolyte powder already in my fluids.
Sportlegs capsules
These amazing wonders keep the burn out of my legs, and I think they help prevent cramping as well. I take 3 before the race, and then 3 capsules every 3 hours during the race. I also take 3 after the race to keep post-race soreness down.
Optygen capsules
Taking 3 every morning, these little red Matrix capsules seem to have raised my tolerance for heavy efforts and seem to help oxygen transport to my muscles. During IM WA, I did not feel myself going to lactate threshold at all, or feel ever that I was running out of breath. While I admit that my fitness is also getting better, I cannot help but wonder that these little capsules helped a ton.
First Endurance Pre-Race powder
Before the race, I dump a heaping scoop of this into my pre-race drink, which is typically Endurox recovery powder. I credit this powder with giving me the ability to maintain extra effort throughout the whole race.
Endurox Recovery powder
Love this stuff. After the race, I take one packet of this in a water bottle. I also dump in one packet of Emergen-C to boost my vitamin in-take. It really helps hasten the recovery process. As mentioned before, I use Endurox as my pre-race drink too, along with a scoop of First Endurance Pre-Race and a packet of Emergen-C.
Emergen-C powder
My secret weapon against getting sick during training, and helping with performance and recovery. I take one before each long training session and race. During my peaking weeks, I know that my immune system is lowered, so I take upwards of 3 of these per day just to ward off getting sick. Containing a cocktail of vitamins, it’s loaded with 1000mg of Vitamin C to keep me healthy and going!

Optygen: How Interesting!

I heard about Optygen many years ago but didn’t think much of supplements until just recently when I started taking SportLegs. I looked into Optygen and found that the Discovery Channel cycling team uses it so that does give it some legitimacy. Looking into the ingredients, apparently there are herbs from Tibet that increase VO2 max, reduce lactic acid, among other things. I thought to myself, “Exactly what I need!” and about 2 weeks ago began taking it. I did not know what to expect and hoped for the best.
Yesterday, I saw what I thought were the first two positive results of taking these Matrix-like “red pills”.
Our coach tells us to do this workout called the “lungbuster” which is a 400m pulling session whereby you breathe every 3rd stroke on the first 100, every 5th stroke on the second, every 7th stroke on the third, and finally every 9th stroke. To date, I have never been able to make it to the 9th; I am always out of breath by the end of the every-7th-breath-100m and have to fall back to every 3rd or 5th on the last 100. Yesterday, I could actually maintain breathing every 7th stroke all the way to the end of the 4th 100m. I still could not do every 9th, but maintaining every 7th was a significant improvement in lung capacity from before.
Then my second positive result was when I went for a 5 hour ride afterwards. I went climbing, and then did a rolling hills course after climbing back home. Not once was I breathing hard. My breath was very controlled and I did not feel any discomfort at all, whereas I sometimes do maintaining pace back home.
I am very encouraged by these results and think that Optygen seems to be creating them. I have to admit that taking all these funny chemicals, vitamins, and herbs into my body is a bit unnerving though; but that which does not kill me or the Discovery Channel cycling team must make me stronger, right?
More on this as I train towards NYC Marathon and then Ironman Western Australia.

Aid Stations Running Out: Just More Motivation to Get FASTER

At Half Vineman this weekend, it was brutally hot conditions on the run – probably around 95 degrees and that’s not counting the heat radiating off the blacktop. It’s when aid stations become crucial to your ability to survive and race well. You look for each aid station and are glad for a few steps of walking while you guzzle down a cup of Gatorade, water, or Coke.
But this year, the aid station right before the turnaround ran out. For me, they had fluids on the way out. On the way back, they had only ice cubes to give. Lucky for me, I always carry fluids with me to sip along the way between aid stations. However, I really felt for all the other people who chose to run without fluids, and especially on such a hot day like this last Sunday.
So there are two solutions to this. One is to carry fluids. The other, well…, is to finish sooner.
I do want to try racing without fluids one day. It is extra weight to carry so theoretically it should mean I should expend less energy and perform better.
The other I am EXTREMELY motivated to continue developing. I do everything I can to get faster now. I don’t burn myself, but I just train smart and consistently to keep improving my strength, speed, and time. Because finishing sooner means there is less chance that they will run out of fluids.
I’ve already experienced this last year at Ironman Austria where on the BIKE they were running out of fluids! If they run out on the bike, then what will happen when I hit the run? And I was not slow either. There, I REALLY FELT for the athletes who came in after me. It must have been really taxing to not have nutrition out there as it was mid-80s at Austria last year.
Get faster. Don’t risk the race planners screwing up and not having enough fluids on the run (or the bike for that matter).

Carbo Pro! My Vineman Half Ironman Nutrition Strategy

Just discovered Carbo-Pro. WOW! A tasteless addition to any sports drink, it dissolves perfectly and hasn’t upset my stomach. It has added to my stamina during biking. Just an extra scoop of this stuff in each large water bottle gives me an extra 100 calories or so in each bottle, which effectively doubles the calories in each bottle. Not so sure about running though – might stick to Coke.
Vineman Half-Ironman nutrition is working out to be:

  • One Balance Bar, Yogurt Peanut, one bite every 15 min starting about .5 hour after start of bike.
  • GU Gel, Plain, one at start of bike, then starting 1.5 hours after bike start, one GU every hour.
  • 2 large water bottles, 1.5 scoops Accelerade Lemon Lime, 1 scoop Carbo-Pro per bottle.


  • GU Gel, Plain, every 45 min on the run.
  • 2 large Fuel Belt Bottles full of flat Coke, if they are not serving Coke. If they are, then 2 large Fuel Belt Bottles full of Accelerade Lemon Lime plus a scoop of Carbo-Pro.