November 26, 2009

Ironman Nutrition Part 2

Welcome back. In Part 1 we discussed training basics for the bike, the area where most people get it wrong. Read that but remember that the values in that post are based on the following assumptions:

1. Your long ride is done at Ironman intensity or just below. That is roughly around your AeT.
2. You are willing to learn to eat a bit more in training.

Today I want to talk about energy pacing (and helping general pacing) for Ironman South Africa specifically. Its a specific course and can be broken up nicely into 3 laps. Here is my general guideline for each of the 3 laps in Port Elizabeth.

Lap 1

For the first 20min you should drink or eat NOTHING in PE. Your stomach will be all messed up from the swim, having gone from a horizontal plane to a vertical one. It takes about that long for your stomach to re-adjust to the new squashed position on the TT bike.

At 20min, have your first nutrition. I generally chomp a Whaspgelgel and a sip of juice (Whasp AminoCarb). You should be pedalling easy up the drag towards Mount Pleasant (stupid name) and focussing on getting nutrition in and your pacing right. If you didn’t attend the pro race briefing, this is not the time to be pushing, no matter HOW good you feel. I don’t care.

Gastric problems are a leading cause of poor performances and DNFs (did not finish) in Ironman-distance races. If your stomach “shuts down” during the race then you very likely went out too fast, or did something stupid like change your practised nutrition on raceday. Do NOT eat anything you are allergic, intolerant to or haven’t done long rides with before.

At 40min, I have another gel, and a bit chug of juice.

At 60min, I have another gel, and finish the bottle of juice. You should be near the coast or approaching it by now, and having gotten in the right fuel, at the right pace, will set you up for a successful day.

After 60min I go through a Whaspgel every 30min and a bottle of the AminoCarb every hour. I do this until the end of the ride. At the end of each lap, I chomp a energy bar.

In terms of energy pacing, the laps work as follows:

Lap 1 – hold back and eat eat eat. Fuel up for the day ahead.

Lap 2 – steady on the money. By now you should be settled, and ready to be wise and mindful about your surroundings (could be the caffeine in these awesome Whaspgels). Work the coastal road and stick to the PLAN.

Lap 3 – at roughly 120km, almost everyone heads through a bad patch. Its called overpacing the first lap. If you are feeling good, don’t push, it`ll go away eventually. We all kak at some point during the day. If you have paced well, on Lap 3 you will be catching guys and passing them, feeling steady and eager to run. do NOT forget to eat and drink on lap 3, as it will be warmer by now. Some water over your body at the last aid station will cool you down and clear some of the salt off for the run.

On the coastal road to town, make sure you spin a slightly lighter gear to keep the legs supple for the run. Enjoy the last turn and salute the crowds, you have just cycled 180km with an even pacing and nutrition strategy, so you should be ready for the run, which we`ll discuss in part 3.


1. I take a handful of vitamins at 120km into the ride.
2. Write a nutrition schedule and stick it to your toptube. We get dumb on raceday.
3. Don’t try anything new on raceday.
4. Remember to ride easy to start, no matter how good you feel.
5. Douse yourself with water if its hot, don’t drink twice as much.

That’s it for today kids. Happy training.

2 Comments on “Ironman Nutrition Part 2

November 26, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Hi UN, Thanks for an awesome post. Apologies for my ignorance, logistically how do you get a bottle of AminoCarb every hour on the bike? Also do you ever take the energy drink offered by the IM corporation?


November 27, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Belated Happy Thanksgiving. If you get the chance, please check out the NASA developed hydration concentrate:The Right Stuff at the website and the Fan Page


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