Read other TriBlogs
Amateur Age Group Triathlete
Amateur Age Group Triathlete

Mission: Extreme Ironman Keto Warrior!

roborobby roborobFeb 16th 2014
Just clocked up a monster 27hr training week around a 50hr working week, which was more than what I had done at a week's training camp in Majorca with no work last Spring! This was made up of 2-3 main sessions a day on top of cycle commuting, with key sessions including power intervals on the Wattbike, a run-bike-run at the Herne Hill Velodrome, 4-5 coached swims, a couple of weight sessions, one or two Bikram Yoga classes, and a long off-road run and long bike+run brick at the weekends. Most mornings start at 5-5:30am, and finish with getting home around 9-10pm and having a huge meal just before hitting the sack.
Mission: Extreme Ironman Keto Warrior!
This is all in preparation for my first ever iron-distance race: the Rat Race City to Summit extreme triathlon, in Scotland this May 31st. This is a 3.8k swim in the Firth of Forth, which is tidal, filthy and flippin cold (8.6degrees last year); 180k bike into a headwind from Edinburgh to Glencoe with 5km of vertical up and down, and then a mountain marathon on rough terrain, taking in another 5km of vertical up and down (down is the worst IMO) including an ascent to the summit of Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the British Isles), before descending to the finish in Fort William. I recced the entire route back in November last year and can confirm that the course is brutal, the scenery is stunning, and the weather is likely to include wind and rain, snow and ice, and everything in between. I have no idea if I'll be able to finish this race, but just thinking about it gets my pulse racing even with 15weeks to go, so I know I've taken on a challenge worth doing. I'm planning to race for a position rather than just complete, which is easy to say for an ironman virgin and I may well end up having to eat those words, but I'll put it out there all the same!
Mission: Extreme Ironman Keto Warrior!
I've decided to go on a Ketogenic/paleo diet from now until the race, which means moderate protein, very high fat and very low carb consumption with no processed foods whatsoever and the best quality meats and veg, so that the body has to produce ketones for energy rather than rely on dietary glucose. The idea behind this diet is that you'll be burning fat stores for energy (which even the leanest of us should have ~40k+Kcal stored on our bodies) rather than relying on the 2,000Kcal max that you can store as glucose. Sounds pretty good for endurance sports, right?? Everything about this diet so far is working out really well for me, as I'm enjoying steady energy levels throughout the day with none of the tired moments or mental fogginess that a carby diet seemed to contribute to, and no apparent drop in power or pace in training. In fact, it seems that I'm able to train at a lower heart rate for a given power output than before, which is supported by research on this diet that I've read about, although could also be down to the increased training volume and consistency I'm doing these days. Another great thing about this diet is that you can incorporate intermittent fasting strategies into your training without bonking, which has lots of purported benefits for health and wellbeing on top of helping you focus on training rather than having to think about food all the time!

The keto diet may sound too good to be true, but it does come with one drawback (well, actually a drawback of the way the human body works): there's no room for 'cheat days/meals' where you could have a blow out on carbs or junk foods, as the moment you go above nominal carb intake and spike your insulin too much, the body switches off ketone production, and can take between a few days to a few weeks to get back into that state. Certain alcoholic drinks are compatible, but I've decided to knock that on the head 100% as well, as it's a just gateway to bad food choices, bad recovery and increased likelihood of talking yourself out of training.

So that's me for the next 15 weeks, Eat-sleep-[swim/bike/run/gym/yoga/race]-repeat. The keto diet goes against the prevailing conventional wisdom of what endurance athletes should be eating, but then again I already cut out the usual fare of pasta, porridge, potatoes and processed sports products a year ago with nothing but improved health, wellbeing and performance, so it's worth a shot. I'll report back here as to how it goes.

If anyone reading this has experiences with the keto diet, then I'd love to hear from you! In the meantime, got one more session to tick off this Sunday afternoon (candlelit Bikram Yoga to help unravel and reset for next week) so got to go! :-)
 
Blogging Service, © TriBlogs Join TriBlogs to post comments and/or create your own blog, all for free! Read other Triathlon Blogs