Saturday, October 27, 2007

TriDiet: Reloading for Rapid Recovery

By Mary Ellen Bingham MS, RD, CDN

What do you crave when you cross the finish line? After a long training session are you completely turned off by food or do you make sure that the final mile lands you right in front of a fast food joint? (You were just training for 3 hours. You earned it, right?) Every triathlete is different in regard to what works for them. Finding out what proves to be best for you will require some trial and error but you can be certain that whatever you choose to consume after your workouts will affect the way your body recovers between training sessions. This is especially important when training sessions end up being less than 24 hours apart because you will want to maximize your rehydration and nutritional recovery to replace muscle fuel for the next workout.

Post training nutrition options varies from sports drinks and recovery mixes to energy bars, whole foods, fruit juices and perhaps the choice gaining the most attention these days, low-fat (1%) chocolate milk. Regardless of the triathlete's preferred way to reload, there are certain evidenced-based practices that should be considered when deciding what to choose for recovery nutrition. To reload, your nutrition plan should aim to replenish muscle glycogen, body water (hydration), and electrolytes (primarily sodium).

You may be familiar with the common recommendation to reload within 30 minutes immediately follow exercise. Ever wonder why this 30-minute window is so crucial? Studies have shown that this window of time is when the body's sensitivity to insulin is at its highest and this is when muscles are able to quickly absorb nutrients for maximum restoration and storage of muscle glycogen. A triathlete's body can be depleted of muscle glycogen rather quickly; therefore immediate consumption of carbohydrate is very important. Studies suggest anywhere from 0.5-0.7 grams per pound of body weight (1-1.2g/kg) is an optimal goal for rapidly absorbed carbohydrate intake. Thus, a 155-pound triathlete (70 kg) may require about 80 grams of carbohydrate immediately following a long training session.

There has been much debate regarding the value of protein intake as part of reloading. Generally accepted practice at this time is to consume a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein for your recovery nutrition. Choosing to include high-quality protein sources such as whey protein, dairy products and soy milk, lean meats or nuts may help to speed up the repair of muscle tissue. If the 155-pound athlete is consuming 80 grams of carbohydrate, about 20 to 26 grams of protein will satisfy the recommended 3:1 or 4:1 ratio for optimal recovery. Additionally, the amino acid glutamine (a building block for proteins) is found in many recovery products and may be beneficial for muscle repair.

The most effective way to figure out your individual fluid needs following your workouts is to weigh yourself before and after the session. Replace each pound lost with 24 ounces of fluid. You will also want to ingest sodium to enhance your rehydration efforts and replace that which has been lost through sweat. Similar to fluid needs, sodium requirements will vary among individuals based on how much sodium is lost during exercise. Salty snacks, salt packets and sports drinks are all good options for repleting sodium losses. The recommendation is 110-200 mg of sodium per 8 ounces of fluid. The sodium content of most sports drinks per 8 ounces falls in this range.

Knowing how many grams of carbs and protein, ounces of fluid and milligrams of sodium your body needs is half the battle but figuring out which foods and fluids work best for you is the other half. Most likely your nutrition and hydration choices are going to depend on taste, tolerance, convenience and affordability. Some athletes simply have no tolerance for solid food immediately following exercise. This is where recovery mixes can come in handy. The commonly noted drawbacks to these are that often times they do not taste good and they can be costly. If you choose to purchase these products, don’t waste your money on unnecessary ingredients. You now know that you are looking for a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, and adequate fluid and sodium to match your losses. Recoverite by Hammer Nutrition offers 332 calories, 65 g carbohydrate, 20 g protein, 148 mg sodium and 38 mg potassium in 4 scoops, mixed with 16-24 ounces of water. Sports drinks are commonly used for recovery nutrition as well. Relatively inexpensive, often well-tolerated, offered in a variety of different flavors and, as previously mentioned, these beverages are a good way to replete sodium and fluid losses at the same time. Newer to the market than traditional Gatorade, Gatorade Endurance offer 90 more mg sodium per 8 ounces, and Accelerade offers 4 grams of protein per 8 ounces.

With all of these sports drinks and recovery mixes out there you may find it hard to believe that if you choose to, you can actually practice proper post-training nutrition guidelines using real food! Believe it or not, low-fat chocolate milk has proven to be a very successful recovery beverage providing 84 grams of carbohydrate, 26 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, and 345 mg of sodium in 24 ounces! This matches up with your recovery nutrition plan a little bit better than the Big Mac with 540 calories, 25 g protein, 75 mg cholesterol, 30 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 1040 mg sodium, and 45 g carbs! Other great real food choices include a turkey sandwich with pretzels, a bagel with peanut butter and jelly, a fruit/granola/yogurt parfait or even a smoothie made with fresh or frozen fruit, soy or low fat milk and yogurt. Just be sure to wash these foods down with an appropriate amount of water.

With the guidelines in place, take some time to experiment during your longer training sessions to see which choices fit into your budget, appeal to your taste buds, and sit well in your stomach. Once you find a successful strategy, stick with it for the race. Nothing new on race day!
Now you have jam-packed the 30-minute window of opportunity with all of your immediate needs for nutrition and hydration but the game isn’t over just yet. Your body is still recovering. Within 2 hours after the session you are going to want to consume a balanced meal, packed with protein, vegetables and a large portion of starch. This is also a great time to get “healthy” fats (mono- and poly-unsaturated fats) into your diet. Sample healthy and balanced meals include salmon with sweet potato and steamed vegetables or pasta with chicken and vegetables mixed with olive oil and a little garlic salt and parmesan cheese for flavor. As a triathlete your body has unique demands. To optimize performance you know you need to keep your body strong, your energy high and your immune system healthy. Proper nutrition and hydration is essential before, during, and after you cross the finish line.

Mary Ellen Bingham MS, RD, CDN is a Sports Nutrition Associate for Visit to learn more about their innovative sports nutrition services including Tri2Lose and Menu Planning for triathletes.
Coleman, Ellen RD, MA, MPH. Eating for Endurance, 4th Edition. Bull Publishing Company, 2003.
Dunford, Marie PhD, RD, editor. Sports Nutrition- A Practice Manual for Professionals, 4th Edition. American Dietetic Association, 2006.
Ryan, Monique MS, RD, LDN. Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 2nd Edition. Velo Press, 2007.
Seebohar, Bob MS, RD, CSCS. Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes. Bull Publishing Company, 2004.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Brian Maiolo Reports on his 2007 Kona Experience

I had always dreamed of qualifying for the IM World Championships. But I never really thought past the qualifying part. That's what I was thinking about as I lay on the ground after hitting a large hole in the road during on a long training ride. I didn’t know what I hit or what was wrong, but I knew that this was bad. Really bad.

Surgery was a week later and almost exactly three months before the race. It required a large metal plate, eight screws and a bunch of wire. While many were asking if I'd race or if I could possibly postpone my race for next year (you can't) my coach, Dianna Ineman, was quietly putting a plan together that would get me to Kona.

It involved walking at ridiculous inclines on the treadmill and hitting the old school stairmaster while my arm was still in a sling. The next step was getting back on the spin bike, my old friend from IM Arizona. The next step after that was running, which came five weeks post-surgery. Swimming and cycling outdoors came at seven weeks. My doctor, Dr. Stephen Silver from ISK/Lennox Hill also had some plans. In addition to the surgery, he prescribed something called a bone growth stimulator to help my clavicle heal faster.

Three months went by in a flash. Well, most of it except the time spent on the Compu Trainer at Cadence (aka Dianna's Dungeon) pushing crazy wattage. The long runs in the the park, along the Hudson and at Rockefeller State Park. The crazy hours on the spin bike. And Labor Day weekend, which included a long run, followed by a 140 mile ride, followed by a 100 mile ride and 10 mile brick. Well, maybe it wasn't a flash, but here I was about to do the race that I'd been dreaming about for years.

The race organizers make this race different than any other Ironman. It's wrapped around Hawaiian culture. Plus, in every way, they really make the athletes feel special. Which is why they were stamping my race number on my arm race morning, as opposed to writing it like any other IM. Oh, and as I was making my way into the water, Navy Seals were parachuting into the ocean right before the Pros went off. No, this is not just another race or just another Ironman.

My plan was to stay a bit left and behind the masses to stay away from the mayhem. But as I entered the water (this is a water start), I figured that I've come this far why not go for it and start near the front in the middle. I won't say I regret that decision. But I certainly obtained my share of kicks, elbows and gridlock. I’ve never been in a race with so much congestion. Still, I got out in 1:05. Not bad for a non-wetsuit legal race and collarbone held together by screws and chicken wire.

The bike is a big part of makes Kona "special." If you don't play your cards right you end up getting a head wind going out and coming back from Hawaii (the town where you turn around). Thankfully my coach had some plans to help me avoid this. This was one of the points where you have to trust your coach. It amazes me how people will spend so much money and not listen to their coach. If I've learned anything it’s that you find a good coach and then you let them coach.

Another great thing about this race. A rather large peloton flew by me in the first hour of the bike. Not cool at all, but at the next sin bin I saw them all. I wanted to kiss the next race official that went by me, I was so happy. The rest of bike was ugly, windy, and hot as hell. In my ear, I could hear my coach telling me to watch your nutrition. I also had some friendly reminders on the race course: namely athletes who got off their bikes and were lying on the ground because they were so out of it from the heat, humidity and dehydration. Usually that sort of thing only happens during the run. Uh oh!

There are headwinds and rolling hills as you make your way back into Kona. Hill after hill after hill. I almost cried when I finally got back to Kona. Later I discovered that those weren’t tears, that was just sweat. My plan was to keep my transition times as short as possible. So when I got off my bike, I limped as fast as possible through transition, threw my sneakers on, grabbed my nutrition and took off.

And by took off, I mean I watched my pace so I didn't blow up in the first 10k. The crowd is going nuts and it's so easy to run too fast early on. Athletes were blowing by me at this point. Pacing (and nutrition) are everything in an IM, even a Kona virgin knows that. As fit as these athletes were, I had a funny feeling I’d be seeing them later in the race.

Everyone talks about the Energy Lab. How tough that section of the run is. My coach had me run it during the week so I'd be prepared for it. But it's one of those things that you just have to experience. It's hot. There are very few spectators out there. And it's that dark part of the marathon where people traditionally fall apart. It was at the energy lab that I saw an athlete that I've trained with before. I knew that if I kept my pace I'd reel him in. He must have heard me coming. (At every aid station I'd been pouring water over my head on my body to try to cool off, so you could hear me coming a long way away.) About a mile later I did just that. He mentioned that if I kept my pace I'd break 10:30.

This really helped cause at this point of the race I needed something to shoot for. Around me there were some interesting sights and sounds. There were pro's walking. Athletes vomiting. And the ever-present sound of my water-logged sneakers. It's these dark times in a race that I personally look back at my training. I've felt worse before. How about those speedwork sessions on the track and treadmill? Or the long intervals with my HR between 88-92% of my max? As bad as I was feeling, I'd felt worse and this was Kona. Thankfully being in Kona also means the marathon is really only about 25 miles. Just get yourself near Alii Drive and let the crowd do the rest. Thankfully, my sister and my girlfriend Brooke were on the outskirts of town so really all I had to do was get to mile 24 and I'd be OK. They had commandeered a bullhorn and were cheering me on. I didn't really hear what they were saying, but it was so nice to see them.

A few minutes later I hit Ali'i Drive. This is the moment that I'd been training for, for years. Literally. And when you build something up in your head for so long, it's so easy for the actual experience to be a bit of a letdown. Who am I kidding, as I approached the finish line there were thousands of screaming fans, my parents, sister, girlfriend and Mike Rielly, the voice of IM, screaming the four words every triathlete wants to hear…Brian Maiolo, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mike Egan Reports on his IronMan Hawaii Experience

Kona Race Report (3am-Midnight):

Location: October 13th, 1:40 pm-mile 5 of the marathon in Kona.

I've melted down. I'm starting to hallucinate. My core temperature is off the charts, it's 96 degrees, and there isn't a cloud in the sky. I have 21 more miles to run on legs that have already swum 2.4 miles and biked 112. I know this day had a beginning, and I know it will have an end, I just don't know when. But at this moment, I feel as though it will never end. It all began at 3am, when I awoke at the King Kamehameha Hotel, 4 hours before the start of the Ford Ironman World Championship.


There's a moment the day before the Ironman, when a peaceful easy feeling settles in and I finally feel relaxed. There are no more training rides, no more long runs, no more mind-numbing swims. No more special needs bags to be packed, no more tinkering with the bike, no more left to do, other than race. The hay is in the barn. It's because of this that I wake up after one of the most peaceful nights sleep I've had in a while. It’s at this moment I experience the first of many hurdles I'll have to overcome-moldy bagels! I laugh it off and start pounding the cereal. 90 minutes later, my pre-race bag is on my shoulders and I’m off to get body-marked. #1568 is stamped on my arms, and it's real. I walk to the pier, ready my bike, say goodbye to my family, and slowly work my way into the water.

7am-Swim 2.4 miles

The beauty of the Ironman is that there is no easing into the day. No matter how nervous or afraid you are, when that cannon goes off, it's on. Your nervousness and fear are gone instantly, and you're confronted with the first of a series of moments—survive! It doesn't matter how fast you are-if you can't swim away from 1700 of the best amateur athletes on earth, the swim is going to be chaos. I will get out of the water in 54 minutes, but I will still get my ass kicked by the over-zealous swimmers to my left and right while the swimmer behind me is harassing my feet trying to find the draft. And I am doing the exact same thing to the swimmer in front of me.

8am-Bike 112 miles

Well, thank God that's over. Yes, even when you're a faster swimmer, you're happy to get on your bike. I catch many of the athletes who come out of T1 ahead of me, bike through town and before I know it--I'm on the legendary "Queen-K" highway. And I'm alone! I’ve placed myself in the top 10 of the amateurs and that's when it hits me—I'm doing Ironman Hawaii, I'm on the Queen-K, I've dreamt about this moment! Coming from my first race 4 years ago where I "raced" a half-ironman in over 6 hours, to the following year where I did the same race in 4 and a half, to being diagnosed and treated for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and preparing for Ironman Lake Placid only to find out I had a tumor in my chest that needed to be removed but racing Ironman Florida 9 weeks later, then qualifying at Coeur d'Alene by winning my age group—it's all led to this moment. When this wave of euphoria passes, I realize that I've only got about 95 miles to go on my bike. Oh boy. Reading about biking 112 miles is probably as boring as doing it, but I will just say that it was a long ride. The winds to Hawi had me going 12 mph downhill, and the long return home to Kona is brutal. The course is an out-and-back, and the return is always into a headwind. I got off my bike in just under 5hrs (4:57) and as I hand it off to the volunteer I ask her to throw it in the ocean for me. Which means it’s time for the marathon.

1pm-Run 26.2 miles

And what happens? I get tackled by another racer! I run out of T2, see my friends and family, and as I run over to high-five them, I'm clobbered by a Pro Male trying to pass on the right. My legs cramp, I've got road rash, and I think "that’s it, it’s over." I stand up and my hip is throbbing, my legs are cramping, and I've got 26.19 miles to go. I start running and get into a rhythm, but it becomes too much. My pace for those first 5 miles is about 7:22, but as the heat and pain of the day start to build, I'm overwhelmed by fatigue, and I start walking. You must prepare for these moments, and as I sit at the aid-station trying to cool down and drink, I hope that this moment passes. I "run" the next 11 miles at about a 9:00 pace, and I'm in tears. I see my good friend and coach, Brian Walton who would tell my friends that I was "unraveling" and at the bottom of Palani Rd. I see my mom, sister, and girlfriend. I stop to kiss them, and I run to the top and turn left onto the Queen-K and start running to the Energy Lab. 10 miles after hitting the wall, I've maintained a decent pace and I've recovered with a chance to salvage my day. I run to each aid-station, walk through and run to the next. 10 little races that take me only 80 minutes! This was my defining moment, I've negative split the marathon of an Ironman. My pace is 8:08 for the final 10 miles, and I run down Ali'i Drive and see the clock-9:35! I can’t believe it, I did it. I'm so proud at this moment, so I put my arms up and start high-fiving everyone in sight.

There's nothing quite like the finishing line of an Ironman. The emotion there is something you can bottle up and take with you, it's absolutely palpable. You feel like a champion because you’ve overcome so much to get there, and you feel a strong connection to your competitors because only they know what it took to get to that same finish line. It's at the finish line that this bond is sealed for everyone. I go back at 9pm and stay until midnight. I watch Brian Breen finish 2 years after getting hit by a truck and dying 8 TIMES! on the operating table. I watch Scott Rigsby become the first double-leg amputee finish and it feels as good as it did for me at that moment as it did when I finished. The midnight ceremony quiets the crowd and I look around. I love this sport, and I love the Ironman. 1700 athletes, 1700 amazing stories. Everyone is a hero in their own world, it doesn’t matter what their story is, it's inspiring. Cancer survivors, double amputees, 75 year-olds, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, it is so hard-the work required to get to that start line and then get to that finish line.


Sitting there nursing the aches and pains of the day, I'm thankful for those who helped get me to the finish line. My training partners from Cadence (Joey, Brian, Todd, Scott, Tom, and Holden) who pushed me, Matt and Melissa Heitmann for supporting me, my girlfriend Alex who is the one pushing me out the door and always taking care of me when it gets tough, my coach Brian Walton, my sister Kelly and her husband Daniel, and my Mom & Dad--who inspire me to never give up on my dreams. We did it. And now I start thinking of ways to improve, where I can get faster, and I go to sleep knowing that my first Ironman Hawaii was as much a learning experience as it was a "race," and I am more motivated than ever to make an impact next year. I will make an impact, and Brian tells me "next year starts next week." I hope to see all of you out there.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Kona Strategy vs. Tactics

As I rode towards Kailua today for an early morning meeting at the famous coffee shop meeting point, Lava Java, my shadow stretched 100 feet over the lava rock down towards the ocean. I started to think about what would transpire on the Queen K tomorrow. The athletes have their strategies. Tomorrow the tactics will be played out.

Stadler, will he be able to repeat? I have seen Norman everywhere over the past week; more than a super model’s legs on a Parisian runway. Will he crush the field or maybe have another meltdown on the lava rocks like 2005? Everyone says he is looking "bigger" and that he has a build that should suit him in the water. Can he put the necessary time advantage on the bike into the runners like Tim "has one more in him" DeBoom, Craig "wildcard" Alexander, or Chris "has to be my year" McCormick?

As for the women, can Desiree Ficker build on last year's performance and pull back the 6 minutes that Michellie Jones swam out of her, or will it be Canadian newcomer, Samantha McGlone, the rookie in the field who will pull something to surprise the veterans?

All these athletes have put together their personal strategies and maybe even a contingency plan. But during-the-race tactics is a whole different matter! How will an athlete react when his or her competition throws a wrench into the mix and does something out of the ordinary? Could it become personal with “Macca” and Norman and someone else sneaks in there (a la CA)?

By the end of my ride, my shadow was only slightly larger than my frame. The dreaming was over. Now it's race time!

A Little Pre-Race Strategy for Kona

Today I had my final strategy meeting with Michael. This past year has been designed around qualifying for Kona, and then a successful race. Michael qualified by winning his age group (30-34) in Coeur D’Alene with a time of 9 hours 34 minutes. The issue then became: “How does one then prepare for a second IronMan in the same year?” Well, to quote Frank Shorter, “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.” Michael’s training since June 26th has been strictly oriented towards success in Kona on Oct. 13th. He is now ready to race here: he is leaner than he has been since grade school, and he is nervous but confident.

Today we discussed race strategy. In general I do not like to focus on specific goals, e.g. a time goal, since weather conditions (wind and heat) may dramatically impact such goals. Instead, athletes should focus on the process; the outcome will take care of itself. The other key point for an athlete to remember is to focus only on those issues that YOU can control. There’s no sense worrying about how fast your competitors will race. YOU cannot change that on race day.

Because Michael is a strong swimmer he should finish within three minutes of the leader. So, our strategy is to follow the leaders, let them plow through the water, and take as much time as possible from other contenders.

Over the last couple of years Michael’s cycling has improved to the point where he may be one of the leaders off the bike, but this is the World Championship and it is a different ball game this weekend. So, again, our strategy is to be patient, use the competitors, and keep in mind that 112 miles is one long time trial. We know that the last turn with 35 miles to go will be the point that separates the leaders from the rest of the competition. It is a long way back to the Pier and if the winds do what is forecasted then there should be a slight headwind. Ouch.

The run is Michael’s Achilles heel, but he has improved significantly over the past year and we look at the run as an opportunity. For the run, we did set a time goal, but only to assist Michael with his pacing. This is to ensure that he has energy left as he enters and exits the Energy Lab.

Stay tuned. Now it all comes down to execution! Tomorrow: Sights around Kona and people or, I should say, triathlete watching.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Brian Walton Reports from Kona 2007

I arrived Sunday night, having flown into Kona for the first time. What struck me most was the barren, open landscape that is so well known the triathletes who will compete in the Ford Ironman World Championships this coming Saturday 7:00 a.m. local time (for age groupers and 6:45 a.m. for the professionals).

I am here gathering information for our Cadence Kona Challenge that will take place the following weekend, October 19-21 at Cadence NYC. Thousands of applicants have now been whittled down to 100 semi finalists who will compete for the 6 coveted final positions. Platinum Cadence level coaching, physiological testing, Cyfac bikes equipped with Zipp wheelsets and Sram groups, Suunto HR monitors, Zoot wetsuits, Sidi shoes, LAS helmets, and Enervit nutrition products will be awarded to and used by the 6 finalists. Cadence, in conjunction with Triathlete Magazine, will chronicle the training and lifestyle of those six athletes as they prepare for an IronMan event.

Back to Kona...and the winds. Many people have written about the Hawaii winds but until you ride out and back on the Queen K to Hawi it is impossible to fathom how strong and prevalent they are. I raced many years in Belgium and Holland in the classics, semi classics and Belgian Kermesses fighting for the gutter on many occasions, but these Kona winds really mess with your head. No rhyme or reason as to when they pick up or let off; and out or back, it just doesn’t make a difference. Yesterday I was nearly blown off my bike and my athlete, Mike Egan, had the same issue, having to get out of the aero position and ride in the drops so he would not be sent into the gravel. If the winds stay as strong today as race day, it will be a cyclist winner such as last year's champ, Norman Stadler, that wins again in 2007.

Stay tuned for move coverage regarding the athletes and strategy leading up to the race!