RACING IN THE HEAT - IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 105 DEGREES
I am getting bombarded with tons of questions from athletes who raced on Sunday as to how Charlie (76 year old blind athlete) was able to complete the course 17:11. Over the limit, but still crossed the finish line. If you are up for a little nutrition education on what a 76 year old did to complete the race, read below.
If you have any questions, ask them in the comments below and I will try to answer them. I am not a doctor or EMT or nurse, I just spend 365 days a year helping athletes be their best with nutrition.
My opinion, it all came down to nutrition, because if you follow me or know anything about BASE, I am at a race every weekend. So here is our Background. I completed 2 60 miles rides since April, 1 run over 10 miles, and I rarely swim. I have a 7 month old, and I run BASE. I live in Colorado.
Charlie is 76 years old. Blind. Lives on Long Island. Has ridden a bike outdoors 2 times since 2012. The first was Chatt 70.3. The second was Sunday. He does not have access to adapt to training in heat. He doesn't have access to running outside. He literally goes to a YMCA, spins his legs on an exercise bike, and walks on a treadmill. He can't "run" on a treadmill (close your eyes and try it)
Here is what our entire day was. It was mirror images for both of us.
Breakfast - 4:30 - Instant oatmeal with Almond Butter. 4 Hard Boiled eggs. Banana. Coffee. 1 bottle of BASE Rocket Fuel mixture (3 scoops BASE Hydro, 3 Scoops BASE Salt, 1 scoop BASE Amino Acids)
Transition while setting bike up - 8 thumb licks BASE Salt.
20 Minutes before swim - 1 BASE Gel with 12 ounces Water
Swim - 1:14
T1 - 25 ish minutes (we did a full change into cycle gear. It takes a very very long time when you can't see all of your gear)
Bike - 7:30
We each drank 8 bottles of BASE rocket fuel concoction (3 scoops BASE Hydro, 3 scoops BASE salt, 1 scoop BASE Amino) this equates to 270 calories, 9 grams amino acids, and 1800 ish mgs of sodium)
Out on the bike, every 30 minutes like clock work, we each took 4-6 thumb licks of BASE salt (60 mg each time)
On the 30 minutes, we each ate a complete BASE Bar for about 200 calories (solid food) I absolutely 100% do not believe in "liquid nutrition" (pro tip - go to work one day of this week. Pick any day. Bring 8 bottles of gatorade. Or whatever liquid nutrition you drink. drink one bottle on the hour, every hour, 300 calories per hour, and after 8 hours, see how you feel. If you can't "function at work off of liquid calories, how will you do it in an Ironman"
On the hour of every hour, we ate a BASE gel (120 calories)
At every aid station, I grabbed one bottle of water. We shared it with sips, pouring the rest on our head.
If you look at the tandem pic below, you will see we are loaded with water bottles of our nutrition. We utilized special needs, and had 8 bottles waiting for us, plus a fresh supply of 6 more bars and 6 more gels
Run - 7:30 ish
3-4 thumb licks base salt every aid station no matter what. (60 ish mg per lick, 180-240 per aid station) = about 5200 mg, even when the sun went down. Half of a base bar from odd numbered aid stations. 1 cup of coke and 1 cup of water at every aid station.
Pour lots and lots of water on the head. We did not touch one cup of Gatorade the entire run, or bike. Special needs, I had 2 bottles of our BASE rocket fuel concoction waiting for us. We each consumed probably 4 gu gels on the run (I didn't have access to my base gels)
As soon as we finished, I took Charlie to the med tent to get his vitals checked. He was perfect. All vitals were in order. They did nothing for him or to him.
He is 76 years old. Blind. Never, ever trains outside. Doesn't have a coach. Doesn't know what training peaks is. Has never heard of a Wahoo kickr. Doesn't have Facebook. None of the stuff we have access to. He trusted me to put a nutrition plan together so he could get through the incredibly hot day.
It is possible if you do the right things. Everyone says for years and years, Nutrition is the 4th discipline of racing. IT IS. Charlie is the perfect example. It doesn't have to be this hard.
If you can nail your nutrition, you can finish any race. Some negative Nancy's will say "well he technically didn't finish because he was 17:11." Whatever. You try doing Sunday's entire course with your eyes closed and let me know how you feel.
In closing. this is not an advertisement for BASE. But... you can technically substitute any of the products I mentioned with ones you like. Just take more of it.
Sodium retains water
Water transports blood plasma
Blood plasma transports oxygen
Oxygen which is needed for the vital organs (Heart, brain, lungs, etc)
But during Sunday's race, we are all pushing our 3 largest muscles (quads, hamstrings, glutes)
So all of the blood and oxygen is getting pushed to those places, but the body still needs oxygen to go to the Brain. To the lungs. To the heart. You can't go 10 seconds without oxygen to the brain. Or oxygen to the lungs. Or heart. But..... you can can up to 25 ish days without eating. The stomach and digestive track are non-vital. So your body is smart. When you get into electrolyte depletion, your body will slowly dim the lights and slowly shut down non vital organs (stomach) and then you go into a tailspin (don't get me started on trying to swallow salt pills when all of that shuts down as it won't process) So, the key to all of that is keeping your sodium levels crazy high. Keep the stomach working. Keep the calories going in. Keep the energy up. Keep the gi track working.
Charlie nor I had any intestinal issues whatsoever the entire day. And we are not pros.
You will not. Under any circumstances, take in too much sodium (electrolytes) during a race or training. If you do, your kidneys will process it out through your sweat. But if you take in too few, it will come kick you in the ass later on.
That's it for me. Hope you enjoyed the reading as many people have asked what Charlies nutrition plan was for the day.
IF you are interested in diving even deeper into how to train / race in the heat, CLICK HERE for a fantastic article written by Matt Dixon of Purple Patch.
Extreme heat and humidity ruin the races of even the best triathletes. As the body overheats, it becomes a less efficient machine so, naturally, it slows down. Make your next hot and humid race one you enjoy, not one you just make it through.
Master coach Matt Dixon, founder of Purple Patch Fitness, shares his step-by-step formula for preparing for your best possible performance in the heat. His protocol focuses on increasing blood plasma volume and maintaining oxygen carrying capacity.