(Week 26-46) After successful nutrition intervention it was time for final optimization before the seasons main goal – Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
After qualifying for Hawaii and having such good experience with LC approach, the decision to stick with it wasn’t difficult. It still needed some tinkering here and there, couple of minor tweaks and I will be all good for Ironman World Championship.
Transition period in the following weeks was back to low carbs of under 100 g per day with ample amounts of protein for better recovery. Which, by feel, was faster that after previous ironmans. Easing back into full training program I increased carb intake accordingly to approx. 180 – 200 g range on hard training weeks and lowering it back down on recovery days or weeks. Another thing that I noticed in this period was the “feel” for body’s craving for carbs, as I was having less and less difficulties interpreting signals of general hunger and carb demand. It’s hard to describe, but I started to know when I needed calories and I when I needed carbs. So it was easy for me to regulate carb intake on hard days and limiting it on recovery. I was even getting hang of slight carb loading before key long endurance workouts in order to maximize my training performance.
Not all nutrition tryouts were optimal, though, as I learned. Twice! It was during the heavy training block (7 and 9 weeks before the race) that I experienced substantial diarrhea and GI troubles. Both times it started after 40 km run on Friday and 200 km bike on Saturday, when I performed those two training in high-carb state (pre-loading, during and after), approx. 200 – 400 g per day for 3 days. Then on Monday (Sunday was both times only long-easy swim session) I got diarrhea both times, stomach pain and I really couldn’t eat much. My training suffered both times for a whole week, as I felt really weak. Firstly I thought I got some kind of GI infection, but now I would ascribe those problems to too much carbohydrate. Now days I notice, that always after I eat a lot of carbs, I got some kind of minor GI problems, either in the form of flatulence or bloating. So inadvertently I determined my high limit of carbs as well.
Compared to Lanzarote preparation, I upped the carb intake to 200 – 250 g per day range in most intense weeks leading to Hawaii, but I haven’t noticed any additional benefit performance wise. My body weight remained stable on lower body fat, so I must have gained some muscle mass. But when comparing some workouts and the whole training load (volume and intensity) to previous year’s training for Hawaii while on HC, I still wasn’t on the same level. My swimming load was comparable, bike workouts less intense and I was running quite less. I just couldn’t train as much or as intensely as previous year. The quality and the quantity was obviously lacking, but the motivation booster were again long endurance workouts, that really kept me on the LC path. And as the A race was approaching quickly, there was nothing basically I could change then.
So the final workouts in Hawaii were again done in glycogen depleted state, just as before Lanzarote. Sluggish feeling coupled with acclimatization to heat was not very uplifting. Then again carb-loading came to the rescue, as on the race day I felt even better on the bike than I did in Lanzarote. In the last third of bike part I was able to come through the field again, as I was overtaking fellow competitors with such ease, that I was really enjoying the bike leg. One year ago at that stage, I was thinking of which cable to snap in order to “drop out” of the race! The run was better in Hawaii as well, as my second half of marathon was only 3 minutes slower than the first. And my consumption of carbs during the race was even lower, now that I was confident of myself and I didn’t force gels to my stomach. Finishing 2nd in my AG and 29th overall, I was again over the moon! With a huge PB of 8:48!
- The training performance is lower in regards to racing performance, in congruence with train-low race high philosophy.
- It is harder to predict race performance from training.
- Training adaptation is greater at lower intensities, thus also lowering injury risks.
- Nutrition periodization is crucial foundation for training periodization.
- When LC adapted, the intestinal flora is very dependent on carb intake. It is easily thrown out of balance with “over-dose” of carbs, that aren’t burned in training. In my case this resulted in diarrhea, bloating, inability to ingest nutrition in following days and consequently impaired training.