You ever have one of those conversations where you realize halfway through what an ignorant dummy you’ve been?
That was essentially my experience during my nutrition consult with The Core Diet this weekend.
By way of background, “back in the day” I ran D1 track while earning my degree in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Vermont. I was a sprinter in college but spent the next 5-6 years training for some longer races, including the 2013 Boston Marathon and most recently a half ironman (70.3) this past fall. All of this is to say that I thought I knew a thing or two about nutrition and training despite some lived experiences suggesting otherwise – e.g. debilitating muscle cramps, GI issues (oh, I could blog for days about the runner trots), essentially crawling (dehydrated and under-fueled) the last 6 miles to the finish line of 70.3… etc.
So, I finally figured when I signed up for my first full Ironman (IM Lake Placid 2018!!) that I needed to actually get my sh*t together. I was beyond pumped for my initial nutrition consult that came with my 1:1 coaching package from QT2 Systems.
Our conversation went something like this…
Me: I know everything about eating healthfully because I went to school for nutrition (I’m paraphrasing….and I hope I didn’t sound this arrogant)
RD: How do you usually fuel during long runs or rides?
Me: Hmm… I use Infinit sometimes—like when I have it—but I’m out of it now… so usually just water and a Clif bar or Gu or something.
When was the last time I fueled or even brought hydration for a run??
RD: What do your longest training days consist of right now?
Me: Two to three hours. I’m doing a two-hour trail run this weekend.
RD: You need to be fueling for something like that. How are you doing that?
Me: Ehh… I hadn’t thought about it honestly. It’s pretty cold out…I’ll probably just carry a water bottle.
This sounds incredibly silly as I’m saying it out loud.
RD: You should have more than water and probably need more than one water bottle’s worth.
It goes on. We start talking about electrolytes and glucose and all things I “knew” or at least thought I knew, but definitely forgot how to apply. Namely, you need to fuel for long workouts (duh!) and there are ways to do that are better than others to keep your training on track over the long – term.
Long story short, RD Jaime (who’s a serious badass, by the way) dropped a whole world of wisdom on me during that 30-minute call. I swallowed (pun intended) my ego and and realized that sports nutrition for endurance is it’s own crazy discipline that I apparently know nothing about.
I picked up a new CamelBak (because I hate my handheld water bottle and fuel belts) plus some electrolyte tabs and put my nutrition refresher crash-course to the test on my two-hour trail run. I’m pleased to say that it WENT AWESOME! Yes, I ran slower than normal (coach’s orders) but I felt confident that I could easily run another two hours without bonking… and what’s better than that? I actually felt so great and energized afterwards that I went for a second hike with my family later that day.
Training day: CHECK.
Time with family: CHECK!
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ That does not always work out so well!
Committing to Ironman training has meant surrendering to the idea that I don’t know everything, or even close to everything. It’s been about finding a team of experts that know their sh*t. It’s been about talking to other athletes, about listening more, about trying new things… and eventually I might figure it out. This weekend’s conversation got me one step closer.