Swim, Bike, Run, Nutrition – the fourth discipline is acknowledged as the Holy Grail by all competitors who have been humbled by their body refusing to cope with well planned nutrition regimes and supply inexhaustible levels of energy to effect that level of swimming like Phelps, Cycling like Merckx and running like any Kenyan Warrior!!! There has been so much information and misinformation generated on this subject with commercial interests taking essentially a simple Science ( carbs at 1gm/kgm mass/hr plus Na at 600 mgm/hr hydrated at 700ml/hr ish!!!) into the realm of Astro Physics to bamboozle the athlete!!!!! And who said anything of ethics????
So let me take you on a Magical Mystery Tour based on my personal involvement in Sport from the get go as a young brat. Started out at 8 years as a runner under the coaching of Percy Cerrutty and spent many hours challenging myself up the legendary sandhills of the Portsea Camp. Nutrition was based on breakfast of Oats, walnuts and raisins with grated apple – we are talking the early 60’s here so Bircher Muesli was on another Planet. Backed up by wholemeal toast and peanut butter and absolutely no dairy. Moved on to a fascination with surfing and the Zen Macrobiotic influence. Had just started at Deakin Uni in the Faculty of Human Nutrition and whilst in Melbourne went to Shakahari, an icon restaurant that still exists in Carlton ( in fact my sensational daughter, Annik and I went there before we ran the Melbourne Marathon in 2010 and had their signiature dish: Hunza Pie). I still use this baked combination of brown rice, spinach, cottage and edam cheese , eggs and tamari as my pre race meal!!!!!
For my thesis I chose to look at Astrand’s research on glycogen loading which involved exercising to exhaustion, 4 days fat and protein then 3 days carbs to the max. The idea being that skeletal muscle would become ‘super hungry’ for carbs in the fat/ protein deprivation stage. Great idea but it kicked you to pieces. Sideline= I was a member of the Torquay Surf Club so enlisted the boat crew as the guinea pigs. The first session to cycle to exhaustion was a disaster. Power athletes are not built for endurance!!! So my Professor said that she had an idea to motivate the guys and in the next session promptly bared her boobs at the pivotal give up point. You could feel the room become satiated with desire and testosterone. Bring on being a male !!!!!
Moved sidewards into my first career as a Professional Equestrian and nutrition took a slide. But to emphasise the positive I discovered coffee and with the advantage of being based close to Melbourne managed to refine my appreciation of this addictive beverage. Years on the effect of caffeine are well established. And just by the way if you are in Melbourne, may I suggest that MinLokal in Fitzroy is the BEST coffee experience you will have on this Planet.
When I eventually got back into Endurance Sport, I discovered Ironman Triathlon and stumbled along with a plethora of concoctions. Qualified for Kona in 98, 99 and 2000 and a chance meeting found me being coached by Mr Arthur Lydiard. He was an advocate of the post session tea and fruit cake regime but also gave me this gem. 200 gm of honey 36 hours pre event- It works!!! Try it for your next event and this form of glycogen loading is rock solid. Just like his programmes. A man ahead of his time.
Recently I met Emily Miazga in her alter ego as Power Girl= what a tremendous free spirit who has developed a brilliant bar and backs it with scientific advice and competitive excellence ( CtoC x3 winner). Base my plan around her Peanut Butter Bar andmy hydration source is now Organic Rice Syrup made with green tea for antioxidants and salt. Carbs and salt at levels stated in opening paragraph of article.
So in the tradition of wanting to know what elite athletes eat, I was interested in the Brad Wiggins edict on the very humble Porridge. At this stage in my personal trial, I think that it is a low GI food that has the alchemy of providing sustained energy without gut disturbance. So all’s good, except that the commercial crew will be cringing at this effective’ cheap as chips’ source and scurrying to find some academic to discredit it. The world turns on the almighty $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Hope you find your own Nirvana in the pursuit of being the best you can be.