With five weeks to go until Ironman, conversations about nutritional choices to help us perform, recover, keep healthy and injury free are occurring daily between myself and my support network (training angels, trainer, sister, friends).
My three main meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner go reasonably according to plan because I eat the same kind of things day in and day out. I like to not have to think too much and as long as I know I am getting good carbs, protein, good fats, lots of veges and some fruit and staying away from deep fried food I am pretty happy.
My nutrition for pre, during and post training is a little more complex where I have spent time over the last few years listening to other seasoned triathletes, reading articles and trialling different combinations to see what works for me as an individual. I have settled on a formula that I work with to work out the number of carbs and protein needed to support the training I am doing to fuel for performance and recovery, and I am feeling strong and confident that I have this training nutrition sussed. This includes using the nutrition that is available on the Ironman course – I love the Cliff Bars.
The difficulty I have which many may relate to is the 3-4pm slump where afternoon cravings start to creep in, particularly the chocolate. My family joke that we have a ‘chocolate gene’ because we all love it so much. And more recently I have been wanting salt, ie potato chips, something I was never too fussed on before. I have noted this is particularly since the training load has increased, I’m sleeping less resulting in being tired and emotional and as I juggle finding my feet in a new job and balancing family commitments.
Many of us will have experienced walking past the cookie shop willing ourselves to walk on by, particularly when we are tired and emotional. I find what helps me to stay on track with my nutrition and to keep a positive mindset is having the support of like-minded whānau and friends. If in doubt – text someone, tell them what you are wanting and if they are like my whānau they will suggest a healthier option. To keep my mind set positive I have incorporated Proactive’s Four Corners of Health philosophy where I focus on getting enough sleep every night and if I don’t I make sure I get to rest at some stage during the next day. I am part of a ‘roll club’ (foam roller) where we message each other every night making sure we have rolled (the club has two other members in it and we are all doing Ironman – so we are not too weird, I think?) to ensure we are helping our bodies to be injury free. I share my challenges and my achievements with my mates helping to keep my mind free from any worries and I consciously choose to think about the positives in all situations. As discussed above I continue and will always continue to try to make the healthier choice to help me be the best I can be.
Nicola Grace is the 2016 Ironman Tony Jackson Scholarship recipient, and will be racing in Ironman NZ on 6 March 2016. Proactive are proud to support Nicola with physiotherapy services as she trains hard to achieve her Ironman goal.