PRACTICE AND PERSEVERANCE IS KEY Over the years I have come across many different ways in which athletes come into their chosen sport, for myself Triathlon was never something I dreamt of doing or even heard of until 2012, I was living in London as a Personal trainer in the heart of the city, I absolutely loved what I was doing but also felt that I was lacking a challenge! At the time I was playing around with Crossfit and lots of weight training which I loved, but again felt that I didn’t have that fear. A fear that sits in the pit of your stomach telling you that if you don’t get up and get it done you will never complete it. I needed that feeling to really test and challenge myself mentally. Chatting to a guy I worked with we were debating, do I enter a Fitness modelling/Body building comp or do I sign up for an Ironman!!? Quite the contrast! I thought a triathlon looked a bit easy and wanted to do an “Ironman” Go all in I thought… as you do! From the moment I started training for it, (no swim or bike experience what so ever) I knew I was going to love it. That fear was certainly planted and it wasn’t going anywhere! Challenge accepted. My training begun on the 1st January 2012 – My ironman race was in the July. I had 7 months to get myself ready for it, with absolutely no idea about how to train for it let alone what I should or shouldn’t eat to fuel myself along the way. There was so much to think about! Tip: When you don’t know- Hire a coach that does, I did! I would eat anything and everything just to keep myself going, I didn’t look at what nutritional value there was in my food or whether I was getting enough carbohydrates per hour. I just ate. A lot. I would drink orange dilute in my water bottles on the bike, I would take biscuits wrapped in foil and a massive supply of Haribo’s. Which is not a bad thing now and then but it certainly wasn’t enough or great from a performance perspective!! Riding around in my Nikey leggings (dont ask about the chaffing), running jacket and oversized cycling shoes- god I struggled for weeks with those cleats! I was being challenged for sure! The time came.. Ironman Bolton was on the doorstep. I had put my heart and soul into the training (which was just ridiculous if you don’t mind me saying, I mean who the hell came up with those distances!) Even now… making this my Professional Career, its just crazy ! 1st in my age group: Kona qualified. On my way to the World Championships! From then on.. Hook, Line and sinker. I started to think after Kona (placing 5th in AG) that this was something I really wanted get better at, to be competitive in Ironman and not just complete the event as a ‘challenge’. Over the last few years I have had my fair share of injuries and probably made every mistake you could imagine, Literally.. like the time I downed a bottle of Lucozade 15 mins before a 70.3 event after eating only eggs for breakfast then realising.., crap I haven’t eaten any carbs! So I thought the Lucozade would do the job, only to throw it up straight after the swim before having the most miserable bike you can possibly imagine. Oh how far I have come. ha. I think as Athletes we have this love hate relationship with our body’s, we love it and praise it when it gives us the speed or the strength to feel incredible, we praise it when it allows us to push past limits and takes us further than we though we could push it. But yet when it fails us to hit those numbers or feel anything but floaty or weightless we call it, scream at it in our mind, constantly asking it “why” you useless …. you get the drift! But.., its all part and parcel of being a athlete, some days are good or great and some not so good or great. Either way having the appreciation for what we put our body through is paramount to performance, you push it enough and it gives you results, you abuse the appreciation and push it too much it will break down, aka injury. It has been the injuries I have had over the years which has made me take a closer look at my nutrition. Not only from a personal perspective but to increase performance. We need to make sure not only as athletes but as humans we give the body the nutritional value it needs. It has taken a while for me to really understand what it takes to perform- and I am sure I still have plenty to learn too! You have to tick all the box’s. Consistently. Not just training but taking recovery and food seriously. Last year this was something I really focused on, with the help of my coach we worked out exactly what I needed to consume Pre / during and post training and racing. What we came up with I used consistently in training, this allowed the body and digestive system to adapt and become used to the supplements and food consumed so once in the race it becomes the norm. With the ongoing guidance and partnership with SiS I was able to nail my prep down and now have something that works for me. Everyone’s nutrition needs are different and what fits one will not fit all, it took me a while to get my nutrition right, know that practice and perseverance is key! I have detailed what works for me, maybe give it a go and see if it can work for you!? In preparation for a race or when in big training blocks my go to product is always SiS Hydro tabs, I always have some flavour going on in my bottles, I will drink these consistently throughout the day, coming in 4 different flavours I never get bored. Keeping hydrated is so important, every cell, tissue, and organ in the body needs water to maintain temperature and keeps joints lubricated. So these are essential! During training I use a variation of SiS Energy bar and gels depending on the session and what the stomach feels like in order to consume, I use the gels in efforts and bars mostly when in steady state. For me personally I love the banana flavour, I find they are softer and more moist which is easier to chew on and I actually enjoy eating them. I have recently started to use the Carbohydrate + Protein bars which I think is great! Great ratio of carbs to protein when on the bike. I would normally have 1 per hour. Gels: I take these everywhere ! Always useful to have in any session, so easy to get down and tops up energy stores if and when you feel a bit depleted, I would normally have a gel every hour along side one of the mini bars in rotation with the big bar when I am out on the bike. When running it would normally depend on the session, but I would certainly take a few gels on a long run. Lots of flavours! Favourite has to be the Fruit Salad. Yum! Electrolyte carb mix is always in the bottles for most sessions (not S&C, only cardio type training, unless feeling a little low on energy) Tip: When on a long ride, take the sachets of carb mix to re fill. Always plan your fuelling before heading out – add in a stop half way so you can fill up. Last but not least: Protein is again another important supplement, I will vary between shakes and bars depending on what type of session I have done or what I feel the stomach may need, I like to eat the bars if I feel hungry after a session, although it does feel a bit naughty munching down on a vanilla cheesecake before your meal! My absolute favourite! I use two different types of protein: SiS Whey (low in carbs) for after S&C or lighter sessions: SiS REGO (higher in carbs) after longer or intense sessions to make sure I am getting the fuel I need after each particular session: I use the PROTEIN20 bars also as snacks, if I am hungry and feel a little low in energy and need a snack that is more sufficient I will grab a bar. Written By Simone Mitchell Simone is a Science in Sport ambassador.