Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nutrition During Training

Every athlete knows that the keys to recovery are rest, and proper nutrition. And, I’d hazard a guess that every new parent spends time contemplating when, if ever, they’ll be able to sleep peacefully through the entire night, again. So with little control over the rest side of the equation, the least I can do is nail the nutrition angle.

I know everyone says “moderation” is the key. But, I don’t do well with moderation. I try, but I just find that I gravitate to the extremes in most things that I do. For example, I just made batch “healthy” cookies (see recipe on this blog December 7). But, I pretty much sustained myself on them for half of the day. Also, lately I’ve had a craving for dark chocolate come out of nowhere. My husband has competition for the chocolate in the house whereas it used to sit untouched, exactly where and how he left it. So, I definitely have some work to do.

On the plus side, I do know what I should be doing and I am getting better in some areas. One of these areas is protein. Being a near vegetarian, a nursing mother and an athlete makes demands on a person’s body for protein. With the longer distance runs and rides, the last thing I want to do is to start tearing down my own muscle because I’m not taking in enough. I already drink about 4 cups of organic soy milk a day, which is fortified with calcium and vitamins, but I’m also making a conscious effort to eat tofu, legumes, eggs or fish every day at lunch. In the mornings I make a smoothie with banana, frozen berries and soy milk and now I’m adding a scoop of whey protein powder (26g of protein) into the blend.

On the vegetable and fruit side of things, I’ve been receiving a weekly delivery of organic produce and this forces me to prepare and eat more greens. It also provides variety so that I don’t slide into a fruit rut. For example, this week we got green peas in the pods (snap peas) and red kale. Normally I might not think to buy these items.

The other aspect of nutrition during training is what to consume during the workout itself. This takes practice, practice, practice. I’m currently practicing with grape Cytomax powder in my water and Carboom energy gels. This almost got me through the last 2 and ¾ hour run but by the 2 hour mark my quads were seizing up. My theory is that I was dehydrated, so I’m going to refill my water bottle more next time and see if that helps. Another term for ‘practice’ is ‘trial and error’.

The main challenge for me is finding the time and energy to make nutritious choices, especially when instant-gratification alternatives are on hand. Dark chocolate aside, you won’t find any pre-packaged, highly processed or junk food in our house. Almost everything is organic and as unrefined as we can get. So, even if I turn into a cookie monster for a few hours, at least they are home made and organic cookies and at least I know that tomorrow, I’ll be left with the kale and the peas to eat.


  1. Hi there,
    My first Ironman attempt IMWI was as a mom of one, who was 2. I didn't make it that time, but having our son, wasn't the problem, it was my training.

    My first IM finish was a few years later, this time with 2 boys, ages 4 & 1. My finish was still tight, but I made it. My husband is training for his 2nd IM this year. We have to rotate training for IM events. I want to race IM distance again, and go faster, when our youngest (now 3 boys) is in kindergarten.

    Good luck with your training this year,
    :-) Sara

  2. With everything going on, it is so easy to just grab something easy, so it sounds like you are doing great making the effort to eat well. I need to do a better job moving forward. The last 2 weeks have been full of power bars - and girl scout cookies. Where is the organic produce place? I should look into that.

  3. Keep a variety of raw nuts in the house. Great, filling snack with good fats that is quick and easy. I'm trying to minimize processed foods and sugars with questionable success so far. It helps to have something healthy and more filling than a piece of fruit to snack on.