It’s been a while since I posted about nutrition and this week has been quite a challenge emotionally as my mum, who is pre-diabetic, was also diagnosed with Hoshimotos Thyroiditis & Lipidemia. It’s not the diagnosis that brought this post about, but more around the eating instructions she received to counter this.
Dale & I have spent a lot of time researching the best way to eat for long term health. I have said before, its not a high performance way of eating, but instead a way to negate the long term genetic factors that will affect us if we are not careful and extend our ability to move well into our 70′s, 80′s etc. My family is riddled with diseases and has a history of depression too. I certainly don’t plan on getting any of those, but I need to be mindful all the time and what I eat has a big impact on my future, whether I like it or not and whether other people want to hear about it or not.
The proposed diet was filled with the following concerns for us:
- My mum is sedentary. She has an insulin-related condition and any sugar spikes of movement from ketosis affects her life in a negative way. Her proposed eating plan was filled with six servings of fruit or sugar per day. This is 6 spikes per day. Six times she will experience a spike and a drop. How is that improving her lifestyle if she feels rubbish at least six times per day?
- Dairy was listed as a food group. It was considered a substitute for protein. Both are ridiculous. In brief, milk proteins have a high potential to promote heart disease, cancer, allergies and other health problems. It has been linked to iron-deficiency anemia, cramps, atherosclerosis, ulcers, cataracts, colic, poor bone health, acne, asthma and heart attacks. It is designed to make young animals grow rapidly and to prime their immune systems and prevent disease by allowing hormones and other substances to enter their bloodstream. Milk is a lousy source of Vitamins and nutrients compared with fresh meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables.
- She was advised to cook with olive oil. High temperatures make olive oil rancid, producing free radicals. Why cook with a rancid product when you can cook with lard, coconut oil or ghee?
- She was advised to drink glasses of sugary fruit juice after a gentle bit of exercise to control her GI levels. Again, she will walk at most, and walking should not be enough for her to need a sugar spike and a loss of insulin control.
- She was advised to eat really starchy food for breakfast ie high insulin response foods. These included Future Life which you can read about here: click. They have recently changed their GMO policies because they got in such hot water about their labelling of foods. I don’t trust them and their product is filled with Soya beans, which are toxic when uncooked. The list of anti-nutrients in legumes, beans & soy includes: lectins, saponins, phytate, polyphenols such as tannins and isoflavones, protease inhibitors, raffinose oligosaccharides, cyanogentetic glycosides etc. Lectins promote leaky gut (make the gut permeable), one of the first steps in auto-immune diseases, they impair growth, alter immune function and cause inflammation. Saponins punch holes in membranes lining the exterior of cells and can rupture red blood cells.
- She was advised against eating good fats because of her cholesterol, like eggs. More and more research is emerging that confirms how poor a marker for health cholesterol measurements can be. Eating the way we do can only up your good cholesterol. You cannot pay attention to the total number and try to lower that by eliminating good fats because you will never address the balance of “good vs bad” cholesterol. Over and over Dale has read and shown me articles about the mistake of focusing on reducing overall cholesterol, missing essential fats from the diet and thereby throwing the balance even more in favour of the “bad” cholesterol. One of the only ways to address the ratio (besides exercise) is to consume more good fats – avocado, olives, cold pressed macadamia, olive, avocado oils, coconut oil, coconut cream, pastured animal fats – and completely eliminate “bad” fats: refined oils, seed oils.
All these things just don’t aid her conditions. They worsen them. But they are “convenience” items as they are probably not “that bad”, you know?
It made me wonder about how everything is acceptable, how lenient we are when it comes to “but its so nice”. That attitude, compounded over years, is what has made my mum sick. She has the genetic predisposition and years of eating “healthy” and “ok” have added up to being here.
I know she won’t mind me saying that and hope that I can help others to realise that eating for health is far more important than eating to be skinny, fast or fit. The new food rules are about health, as wealth. It’s about looking at your genetic predisposition and eating accordingly.
When I have that conversation with people, it blows their minds away and they cannot see the long-term effects simple choices they are making will have on their lives. I am guilty myself for being a glutton at times. Post Cent Cols Challenge I had a serious sugar craving because we were ingesting it in some way 5 or 6 times a day. My decision-making abilities around good food were thwarted and it’s taken me a full two weeks to get close to not craving those things which are essentially bad for me and will ruin my outlook on life.
The mind is a seriously powerful thing and the addictive substances, the unbeknown rancid foods we throw at it and the continuous marketing rubbish we face are adding up to a sick society. Quickly.
Reality checks come quickly and don’t really impact anymore because there are so many, but I hope that for one person this will ring a bell that causes change.
There are so many fads being thrown about nowadays and lately I have been having a lot of conversations around diet with many different people. From athletes wanting to make the switch to athletes who have successfully implemented or failed at implementing new eating habits into their lives. From professionals to amateurs to professors to enthusiasts on the subject, I feel there is so much information going about diet at the moment that I almost want to start avoiding the topic.
Endurance athletes are a species onto their own. I am not talking about half marathon runners. I am talking about Ironman athletes. Hundred miler trail runners. Multi-day stage racing experts. My first thing I want to throw out is that this knowledge I have gained is most useful for races of 4 hours and over. It requires a specific training intensity, plan and the eating plan suits that. What I am about to tell you may not work as well for anyone training for a half marathon or an olympic distance triathlon. I do not consider those to be real endurance events. They are fast, furious and the effort is anaerobic. My interest lies in the top end of the aerobic zone.
There are so many misconceptions about how we should eat if we are real endurance athletes that I am almost not sure where to start on what I believe, but perhaps we should start with what, to me, is the greatest fallacy of all.
You’ll hear terms like 60g of carbs being thrown around like an old sock in a dorm room, and immediately, as an endurance athlete, you are imagining eating one piece of broccoli a day. I hear you shout WTF and immediately your walls go up. It’s no wonder people think we don’t eat any vegetables when we eat High Fat Low Carb, Paleo, Primal, or anything else with a name.
They are talking about a term popularised by the Atkins Diet, called Net Carbs or Effective carbs.
My advice is to skip this piece of any “diet” at all. I don’t care about net carbs. I don’t give a damn about effective carbs. If you are working these out, you are wasting your time. Stop that!
Next, we should head into the names. Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, Primal, etc. Let’s skip those too. They immediately put up a wall with you because you already have negative connotations to them. So let’s skip those and focus on the following paragraph:
I eat to avoid inflammation in the gut, organs and I eat to control my glucose levels. If I don’t eat this way, I will likely have health complications by 50, and most likely die by 70. If I do eat this way, science is not sure when I will die.
Does that make sense?
If it does, then keep reading. If that is not important to you – back to your habits.
Nice. Next step is to clarify that by eating like that paragraph states, I will avoid the following:
Super. Now, for an endurance athlete, here is what you can avoid, as I have discovered:
- Sugar hangovers after long training sessions.
- Eating the kitchen sink by 11am every day.
- Gels, sugary bars, protein shakes.
- Spending tons of money on food you don’t need.
- Feeling like it takes 3 cups of coffee to get your day going.
What if I told you that you could…
- Ride 4 steady hours on a simple electrolyte replacement like Rehidrat Sport, a raw food shake and some droe wors without feeling like I was going to eat the bar tape before we got to stop for a muffin.
- Wake up, ride 2 hours on water and an espresso, without feeling like you may bonk at any given moment, if I have eaten enough fat for dinner the night before.
- Avoid stomach issues in races (long races), like 90% of athletes at Ironman. I recently ran The Otter on 1.5l of Rehidrat and 4 small home made bacon and egg rice cakes.
- Avoid getting sick during the year, especially in taper time, as well as the cravings that come with taper.
- Lose weight, but remain healthy looking (I get this one wrong from time to time, but I am still learning). I am 2kg lighter than Ironman SA this year, right now, but I look far healthier.
Sounds superb, right? Here is the secret…
Eat real food. Meat, fish, vegetables, healthy oils and nuts. Eat them from sources your trust. Learn about ethical foods. Choose foods that were raised, fed and grown naturally, and foods that are nutrient-dense, with loads of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and healthy body weight. Sure, I look skinny to you, but I am healthy, alert, energetic and your “standard” is based on deprivation – I eat like a king and I deprive myself of nothing.
Food should make you healthy, surely?
I am far more interested in long-term health than a quick win, a quick fix and the big result. I don’t eat perfectly. We all have had days.
When people talk about what they eat – the first thing they tell you about it what they DON’T eat. I talk about bacon, avocados, sweet potato, vegetables, eggs and pork belly. You are allowed all those things. Stop talking about deprivation and talk about the amazing things you can eat.
Eating like this is ideal for maintaining a healthy metabolism and reducing inflammation within the body. It’s good for body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, mental attitude and quality of life. It helps eliminate sugar cravings and re-establishes a healthy relationship with food. It also works to minimize your risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack, stroke and autoimmune.
Now onto fat. Actually, just read this article to change your perceptions. Fat is good. Coconut cream in coffee. Cooking eggs in left over fat from flank steak. These are good.
It’s rather simple, actually.
- I eat for health. Full stop. I want to live a long, prosperous, energetic, healthy life doing great things.
- I eat so that I can train better and enjoy the environment I am in more, rather than being focused on the next hit of sugar.
- I eat without depriving myself of anything. Once you kick the supernormal stimuli, there is no depraving yourself.
This is the first piece of this article. In the next piece, we will talk about specifics, how long conversion takes and the common pitfalls. There are some easy tricks and I don’t want you to fall into the same holes I did. But there are no quick fixes. If you have spent years teaching your body to depend on sugar, you can imagine that it will not be happy for a while without it. Not just weeks…
This is an exciting journey, so let’s skip the titles, names and what you CAN’T eat. Let’s focus on health, fitness and bacon.
It’s no secret – I love good, clean food. It’s also no secret that my amazing better half loves to cook and bake more than I love food. Not only that, but she is passionate about clean food. When I initially came home from travelling with Prof Noakes and proclaimed that I wanted to try Paleo, she was anti the idea.
Then she read a book called It Starts With Food and our food journey began. She wanted to make “clean” foods – I am not talking only wheat or gluten free or paleo-friendly, but she got passionate about the oils we use to cook and she takes butter and turns it into Ghee so that its even more pure before we fry our eggs in there.
Our journey included a few fun moments and a few mishaps for sure, but in the end, we are healthier and the difference is visible not only in our skin, our nails and our hair, but in our sleeping patterns, lack of cravings and simple joy of easy food.
Let’s debunk the myths here:
- We eat meat. But we source ethical meat.
- We avoid legumes, dairy and sugar.
- We avoid what’s called supernormal stimuli. Google that sucker.
- Eating this way takes time to prepare your meals. It costs a little more.
- Eating this way requires planning.
And so, oneday, Dale came up with the idea that we should sell products that are for people like us. Free from stuffs. Whether it be preservatives, additives, wheat, sugar, whatever really – focused products that cater for people with allergies, intolerances (like her) and people who just want to eat healthy and ethically (like me).
She came up with various muesli recipes, which I all lovingly scoffed down during Ironman training. We ended up with two muesli’s we thought were superb and slowly started making some. Now you can buy them. She then moved onto doing spreads like mayonnaise that’s free from additives and preservatives (yucky stuff) and salsa that’s just freaking awesome (and free from preservatives and additives).
Now some of the products are ready for consumption by the masses. You can move on over to our website at Freefrom.co.za where you will find recipes, stuff to buy and thought-driven pieces on ethical living.
Yes, the site is not perfect. Neither are you, so if you find a problem, mail us directly – the contact page works a charm! Right now we are focused on Cape Town deliveries and will perhaps grow beyond, once Dale’s super secret Paleo-meals hit the shelves in due course. These are ready-made meals that are ethical, clean and cost-effective for busy people (like me).
Here is the About stuff:
How did a beautiful kitchen wizard and her outdoor endurance nut start a food brand? He has the appetite of a small town and she loves to feed him but more specifically, she loves to make sure that he is getting the best food.
Food goes beyond the common belief of what’s “healthy”. We are both obsessive about food being digested with as little energy as possible. We are both firmly of the belief that eating ethically when it comes to where we source our meat. We believe in eating seasonal fruit and veg. We believe in less packaging, less plastic and more laughter with friends over a real meal and a bottle of fabulous wine.
Dale is allergic to wheat and Raoul is fairly intolerant to mediocrity, so together, we thought it best to bring a range of foods to the world that were of the best quality, but that also cater for specific “qualities” people have such as:
= Wheat allergies
= Gluten allergies
= Dairy allergies
We also thought to bring out foods which were free of allergens, additives and some sugar free products for those who are serious about controlling blood-sugar levels. Yes, it meant that our foods would not last on the shelf quite like other ranges, but the knowledge that you are eating something real, without the anti-caking agents or preservatives means a longer, happier life and that is our biggest goal with this – a bigger, better, healthier, happier life for you.
Come play with us and keep up to date with what Dale is cooking in the kitchen on our blog and follow Raoul’s journey into the world of ethical foods in the Ethical section of our website.
Thank you for visiting and please drop us a note if you are unsure of anything via the contact page.
Dale & Raoul
That’s it really – so please go have a look and shout with suggestions.
This week I have had the pleasure of traveling with Prof. Tim Noakes, who recently has gone a full 180 degrees on carbohydrates and what we should be consuming. This is a man who has challenged beliefs and written incredible papers that have changed the way we go about exercise around the world. The man is filled with vitality, energy and seems to be happier than ever. He is running faster than he did 20 years ago as well, for what it’s worth. His secret?
Cut carbs. Almost entirely. No bread, no potatoes, no pasta… (sigh)
He`ll tell you to rip the chapter on nutrition out of Lore of Running. What they believed 10 years ago is not what they believe now and it takes a big man to stand up in front of the whole world and say “We made mistakes”.
So this no carbohydrate thing, is also known as Paleo, Atkins, etc. It’s not new news. The problem is that it messes with every piece of conventional wisdom out there and flies in the face of a large percentage of the advertising that pays for magazines and TV to be around. Really, if cereals, snacks, cold drinks and pizza/pasta/rice was cut from the advertising budget in many publications, what would be left? So the industries that employ thousands and make millions have said he is talking rubbish.
Another note is to say that if we all switched to eating twice or three times as much meat, would there be enough meat on the planet?
Personally, as a cold-hearted realist I would say we got ourselves into this mess, but I am only speaking to around 30 000 of you on this blog, so let us be the informed few who make the change towards better lives.
There are a few good articles out there on this, so let’s put some links up to those for you get a bit of background on this:
Do I hear you say WHOOOOAAAA?
In order to give you a bit of background on other low carb diets, let’s give you some more links…
Really, it may be a never ending debate, but we are not here to get into the politics. As someone interested in finding every edge, and feeling something was drastically wrong, in 2008 I switched to something in this line of eating/thinking. I cut wheat, dairy (90%) and sugar out of my diet. This left me with wheat-free muesli in the mornings, meat & veg for the rest of the day. I cut out all protein shakes, I moved to regular sleep and training in a more sensible manner (basically off the 4 pillars of aerobic capacity, recovery, nutrition and strength).
The result was I lost 8kg and qualified for Kona, dropping 62 minutes at Ironman that year. It took me 12 weeks and changed my life. Easy peasy.
I have maintained that style of eating, sometimes being a bit more stringent whilst at other times being quite focused on making sure I am putting no rubbish into the body so that I can recovery as decently as possible, session-to-session, when the sessions are high.
But I was carbohydrate intolerant. I did a period very similar to the Maffetone 2 Week Test and it was easy to see I had Carbohydrate Intolerance. Since then, my mom has tested to be a Type 2 Diabetic, which is a sure-fire sign that I was heading in the same direction. Prof Noakes had the same experience. Just because you are fit does not mean you are healthy.
The results? I have been to a GP once in 5 years, have had zero real injuries since and most significantly, my intake of calories during training and races has become significantly reduced. I would guess it has a scientific explanation, and I will endure to find that information, but for now, I am consuming about 30% less during rides and runs, which means the body can work more on performance than breaking down food. It’s a simple win-win.
But what does it all mean?
If you are carbohydrate intolerant (do the test or simply know that if either of your folks are obese or diabetic then you most likely are) then you should be focusing on eating the right way. The right way for me has no “diet” name attached. It simply means:
1. High Protein – meat, beans, eggs, etc.
2. High Fat – avo, nuts, etc and worth noting that you are aiming for Omega 3 and that Omega 6 is the bad one (which is in all vegetable fats).
3. Quality Carbohydrates – fruit, veggies, quinoa.
We are avoiding insulin spikes and controlling intolerance. It’s not rocket science. It’s not a tickling competition. It’s the rest of your life and being able to live without discomfort or disease.
If it’s too hard, then maybe being sluggish, overweight, bloated and never achieving your athletic goals is simply not for you. Life habits are tough to change but worth every penny when you do.
Make the right choices. Check your intolerance levels and shoot for the stars.
An Update: Tim Noakes published a great article on all this yesterday, so read it HERE
This is part of a journey and is neither the beginning nor the end. I am a student, not the law. I know a little bit about a little bit, so leave your comments below…
When you click that eating local, seasonal, ethical food, you just get “it”. You feel the difference, know the difference and value the choice. You make the decision to work a little harder to source your food because it’s ethical, clean food. You sacrifice time to source the right farms, the right butcher and possibly, the right wine maker. This is a journey for me. I am attempting to do the following:
1. Order fruit and vegetables from local suppliers.
2. Use seasonal fruit and vegetables only.
3. Choose local suppliers who I trust to get their food from ethical producers.
4. Drink wine & beer from farms and brewers who treat their staff with respect and farm the land with a vision for the future.
I eat meat. Sure, at home we toy with Vegetarian meals as a commitment to explore options and use creativity to spice it up a little. But I love meat.
However, I choose to buy meat from an ethical butcher, whose commitment to finding farmers who are ethical is stellar at a minimum.
I eat less meat than ever before. Coming from the Transvaal, being an ex swimmer, more was more growing up. I realise that eating meat is taxing on my system at times, especially when I eat loads of red meat, so I am careful, but it’s one of those things I truly enjoy, like a great red wine. Where you draw your line in the sand is entirely up to you and I don’t judge. People will make assumptions and get up in your face for eating meat when their choose is to NOT eat meat. I draw the line at less meat, but ethical meat I trust.
Perhaps you follow the Slow Food Movement (click) or something similar. Perhaps Meat Free Mondays are your thing or you only drink Organic Wines as a lifestyle choice. As long as there is some sort of conscious behavior around the fuel you put in your belly…
It’s your source of energy, vitality and recovery.
So take it seriously!
Good food costs a little more, but with careful planning, a bit of compromise and a little less mindless spending, we can all make a plan to feel better, live better and be better.
For about 18 months now, I have been toying with hydration levels and where my best performance lies. I found products that I raced well on when hydrated and products that I raced extremely well on when slightly dehydrated. The 2nd scenario is something I am now pursuing and only now that I am able to use Rehidrat Sport on a regular basis and able to control intake of a product that I trust 100%.
At O till O, Pete woke up with a troubled tummy. I had him on the Rehidrat Sport all morning, virtually shoving it into him for the first 4 hours. He came back like a superstar, moving faster in hour 8 than he did in hour 1. The Rehidrat was a key part of the equation (sure, some HTFU was had as well).
There are studies, like this, which point towards optimal hydration and then there are studies like this, which share my point of view more to the line. I think most of us over consume, especially on the shorter events.
For me, there are a few tactics to a successful re-hydration strategy for endurance sports:
1. Drink to thirst.
2. Practice target consumption levels in training for at least 6-8 weeks before the event.
3. At an Ironman, don’t drink at every aid station. Water in the mouth and spit it out.
4. Avoid the coke until as late as possible. Once you start, you can’t stop.
5. Use a product you like in hour 5, not only in hour 2.
I am finding that by going into races having upped my salts correctly, using Rehidrat Sport for a few days before the event (1 glass before I head for bed in the evenings), I am able to race with less worry about drinking all the time and I am getting better performances out of my body. Case in point was Knysna Xterra, where I raced without a juice bottle on the bike (it fell out 2km into the ride) and had my best Xterra ever.
Play with your strategy but make sure you are using the right product that you trust.
While you`re at it, read this great article on cramping.
Be smart and train your hydration strategy. It’s such a critical success factor for endurance sport.
This post was brought to you by:
Last weekend was the 2 Oceans Half Marathon. Here is a quick synopsis of my race:
1:17:34 moving time. Great run considering the dodgy knee and sinus problems. I was super stoked even though I know there were a few minutes lost. Could well have been a smashing PB.
Really though, today I didn’t want to talk about the Garmin and its ability to capture the data. That is well documented here. I wanted to get into the gritty that is hydration and one of the most amazing lessons I have learned in the last few months. It goes to more than the Rehidrat Sport I am using. Let’s touch that first, though. I am one of the ambassadors for Rehidrat Sport. I am not here to punt their product, even though I believe it’s an incredible product.
For me, the label and the brand are not what got me interested in using the product. It was the product and the idea on a bigger picture for nutrition. For years we were fed the idea of sugary drinks with loads of stimulants to keep us buzzing throughout the race, as well as during training. After reading about athletes breaking down, having issues with their digestive systems, etc and having experience with some of the effects of continuous sugar spikes, I wanted to go the healthier route.
But I didn’t stop with sports drinks. I cut out sugar in my muesli, coffee, avoided all sugary drinks and avoided the extra sugary fruits, foods, etc. Instead of drinking a coke when I was thirsty I would pack a sachet of Rehidat into a water bottle and have that.
I went from a gel and sugar spiked racing machine to a Rehidrat only racing machine. I took it into training. Before there was Rehidrat Sport, I opted to use normal Rehidrat in my water bottles. 2 sachets per 750ml. I found myself stronger for longer, more consistent and better recovered than before.
I believe that my limiting the sugar spikes, we are, as working athletes (non professionals), limiting the effects of stress on our bodies. This could be my experience alone, but this is what I am here to share, after all. I found I needed to eat less during rides and didn’t need to stuff my face when I got home. This resulted in a leaner, stronger body over the space of 4 months.
I found I slept better if I avoided sugar in the late afternoon as well.
But here is the kicker and the part which you should test in training, not only in races. Learn from your body. I learned to race a little dehydrated. The evidence out there points towards racing a little dehydrated for better performance. Not life threatening dehydrated but just a little thirsty. I spent hours learning where my body felt best versus what I was putting in and found a balance. I took this to races and found a performance increase I was not able to get when loaded with sugar.
Simply, my cravings for the sugar went away and I was able to control my hydration better, effectively increasing performance that way. So at 2 Oceans, I loaded up with Rehidrat the night before and in the morning. I raced 77 minutes with no coke, no gel. Only 1 sachet of water in my mouth, 2 over my head and 1 in the groin (I was heating up around 13km and this is the best place to put water to cool down) during the whole race. No cravings, no need for coke. I felt strong and managed to hold a super even pace most of the way, until the last kilometer when my knee was giving me serious pain.
Anybody out there have similar experiences? I am enjoying playing with this “optimal hydration levels” stuff and have found a tool which really works. I was humbled when they heard about it and wanted to associate with the Urban Ninja brand as I was already a massive fan of the product itself. Give it a try on your next ride.
I have wanted to interview Dan for a while, having bought him a drink when he was underage in a dodgy bar in Madeira, many moons ago. It’s been a privilege to watch his rise through the ranks to being in my opinion, one of the finest multi sport athletes in the world. He is a thinker, a tinkerer and like me, mildly obsessive at times. These answers should convince you to watch his progress and learn from the details he presents to the world.
I may be one of the guys who understands your drive to get every nanomillimeter out of your body better than most. How much of a difference do you think body composition makes, even among the pro ranks, where differences are small and vary race to race?
My man, that’s a lengthy response with currently heated emotions you summon. Yes, at the top it seems to become ultimately specific. Perhaps the most relate-able example is a Contador vs Cancellara – both cyclists, both icons, both unbeatable when the playing field suits them.
The Xterra racing on the USA circuit is really varied, and often highlights strengths and weaknesses amongst the few at the top end. The series final was the past weekend, which including 3000ft of elevation gain on the bike alone. Which is as much climbing as Alp d’Huez. With remote transitions we hardly had any descent, making it a very course specific race. I was grumpy regarding all this, until fellow South African, Conrad Stoltz, who is not a climber either, biked 5minutes into the rest of us.
Reality is, we all have varied ability, and limitation in how much we can adjust them. I am still figuring my own capabilities, and am really curious to spend a season more focused on Ironman 70.3 racing. I believe my body and energy systems may be better suited to most 70.3 courses. I can only race a handful of events in a season, and being able to hand pick the courses and condition that best suit my ability is weighing odds to my favour.
Tell me/us about Boulder and why you have seemingly fallen in love with the place.
Boulder is the triathlon mecca of the USA. Especially for the long course triathletes. A tough generalization, but Ironman racing is the pinnacle of the triathlon niche in America. And all its A-list reside for all or part of the year in the small town nestled against the Colorado Rockies. Between the perfect weather and perfect bodies – there is plenty excellence and inspiration to feed off and become the best athlete you can.
Boulder is at 5400ft, but a quick drive and you’re running at 8500ft, or any longer ride can be done mostly on Peak to Peak highway, which again is undulating at 8000ft. There is rolling when going North-South, and flatlands when headed East. West has a variety of climbing to suit any session.
Beyond the triathlon circles its very similar to Stellenbosch. Small, a uni town, affluent, very sports orientated. And overwhelmingly hippy. I’ve not smelt such strong weed nor seen so many dreads on any of my travels. I do like how progressive town is – definitely a thinking man’s home with a active lifestyle as habit.
Working with fat oxidative rates and improving them is becoming slightly more trendy but I still find myself with blank faces when I approach smart people about it. Can you tell us your experience with working with fat oxidative rates for the body as well as where the limits and shortfalls lie?
Sure, I was trying to maximise my aerobic oxidation capacity this past summer. Forcing more and more of my energy to come from fat energy as opposed to carbohydrate energy which has lactate as a by-product. I am still a student of the game, and will always be it seems.
My feeling is that optimal diet is not such personal to individual athletes, but to individual athletes and their current race goals. I got incredibly efficient at aerobic exercise, which would have been golden had I been training for an Ironman. However, with 2h racing much time is spent at Threshold and even VO2 max, and I’m uncertain whether focus on fat oxidation should be primary or secondary.
Either way, I tipped over the edge, not for training too much volume, or eating too little, but for eating vary specifically and in specific patterns. Forcing my body into a state of hypoglycemia regularly. The hormones that respond to restoring normal blood sugar get desensitized and eventually a domino effect had me totally “hormonal” in bad way. Sure, thats an oversimplification, and lack protein was critical to the melt down, but trying to maximise fat oxidation laid the foundation to a collapse. At the same time, there is much benefit not just as an athlete but as an individual pursuing a state of well-being.
Good fats are beyond good. They’re essential. Sugar and stress is the enemy of health.
You are coming to the Big Show this year (Kona), to watch, work the expo and watch the race. Is it on your to-do list, or like Conrad, are you going to leave it to us “crazies”?
I have never felt more inspired to race Ironman some day, and especially to race Kona. I have spent the past four months very close to the inner Ironman elite here in Boulder, and could not resist the thinking that Ironman is normal and that Kona is the holy grail.
It may be years from now, but I will race and represent South Africa in Kona.
For Maui, what are your expectations this year after a bit of a melt down mid year? I know of a few pro’s who’ve had melt downs mid year and come back to win a world champs later in the year, across various sports. Where do you see your role in the race?
I’ve had one outing at Maui before, and am really excited to be returning two years later. Getting there, and getting to the finish is not to be taken for granted. I hope for a bit of magic, but I know how much better I can be, where I can still improve as a rounded athlete, and until such a time as me believing I am the best I can be, it is hard to believe I’ll be the best in the world.
I am swimming well, and riding is close. With some good legs on the day I’ll be close off the bike, in theory, and would gladly be surprised on the run. We’ll see.
There you have it. Dan is someone who takes his profession extremely seriously, someone who I enjoy talking to and who I learn from every time we go for a bike ride (where I am merely hanging onto the back). We wish him luck for Xterra Worlds, but more importantly, we will be buying him a coffee in Kona to laugh at life. Follow him on Twitter for more regular updates. His tweets are always raw, which is kieeeef bru.
The great thing about this sandwich is that you pound the meat before cooking. This means it only takes a minute or so on each side to cook. Another benefit is that the meat is tenderised so it doesn’t matter if you use slightly tougher cuts, like rump. It also means that the steak ends up in bite sized pieces so there are no akward moments wrestling to chew through your sandwich.
200g steak (Sirloin is easiest)
1 lemon, halved
4 large fresh slices bread
Small handful wild baby rocket
Heat BBQ or char grill pan on its highest setting.
Place steak between 2 layers of plastic. Bash with your fist or a meat mallet until it is flattened out to about 1/2cm thick. You want it to be thin as possible with a few holes so it cooks quickly.
Season steak and drizzle over olive oil on both sides. BBQ for approximately 1 minute each size until well charred. At the same time cook the lemon, cut side down.
Place steak on a clean, warm plate and drizzle with more olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Allow to rest for a few minutes so the meat juices mix with the oil and lemon juice to make a super
tasty sauce. Tear meat into bite sized pieces.
Spread bread with mustard then pile the steak on top. Scatter with rocket leaves, if using and drizzle over the juices. Top with another slice of bread.
The Quick Steak Sarmie (QSS) is an essential and so easy to make. Loaded with great protein, good carbs (if you go the Rye Bread option, specifically) and the power of rocket for flavor in there, you simply cannot doubt the power of this after a morning session of exercise. I smashed two of these on Saturday afternoon when I got back from my lunch. I may have smashed 2 Jack Black’s along with it, for good measure. I then took a hike up the mountain where I did a bit of this…
We found this little guy in the road in the middle of the Karoo somewhere on our last bike camp through the Karoo. Excited already for this years trip. I expect us to go further and see even more remote places…
This article relates far more to front of the pack age groupers and elite athletes (hoping some pro’s out there read this to reiterate what I am saying) but has merit as well for being aspirational and seeing the difference between where you might be and where you want to be.
Camping for me is a big thing. I love training camps. They are a big week of focus with a big boost in performance if you do them correctly. Now when I say big boost in performance, of course I mean roughly 2-4% improvement come race day, but when you reach the top, 2% could mean 1st to 4th in your age group. Being the first knob not to make the podium or missing a Kona slot by 57 seconds (it happens) is the worst possible thing. As a top age grouper, I like to take all the risk equations out and go in as well prepared as I can handle. I love the training and racing but I hate having excuses for limited performance after the race.
So what equates to a proper camp?
For a time limited athlete like myself, I like bike camps the most. I can gain the most time there and run performance increases relatively as well by biking more. True. Story. I would say an increase of 50-100% in mileage (depending on skill and adaptation levels) is best and that the frequency is very important too. Rather do 7 days of work than 5. The idea is to teach the body to function when your mind is saying you are broken, but really you have lots left to give. I like to ride 4 hours every day with a 40min AeT run in the afternoon during the week (work allowing) and then 2 x 6-7 hour rides on the weekend with a 40min AeT run in those afternoons. Total volume for the week would be around 40 hours which makes me a freaking zombie and useless to the world. True story. I struggle like a mofo to get through the week but I understand why I need to press on.
1. Put yourself in the dead zone. You want to wake up saying “no way I can do that again” and then have to go do it again.
2. EAT – you cannot eat enough in a week like this. Recovery is more important than doing the miles.
3. Sleep regularly and lots. Naps are non-optional.
4. Take a buddy. If you have someone with similar goals, take them along. Accountability goes a long way when you are wrecked on Day 3 and you know your mate is waiting for you to get up and ride with him.
5. Keep the intensity down. The idea is steady miles, keeping is to Ironman pace at maximum for 7 days in a row. The idea is to smash days 6 & 7, not 1 & 2.
6. Camp should finish 4 weeks prior to a big event to allow sufficient recovery and taper.
Mental – by making long training sessions routine, racing an IM becomes far more manageable. One of the key strengths Campers take home is the knowledge that no matter what happens in their race: they will get through it; they have been there before; and it’s no big deal. To truly perform at your best for IM, you need to get to the point where a 180km steady ride is simply “a session”. You won’t be able to perform on race day unless you have developed superior bike stamina in training.
Economy - while speed skills, drills and technique-focused workouts are useful for building economy, top athletes need to train their bodies to operate efficiently for 8-12 hours. 6x30s drills are useful but long hours of training at close to race effort (Aerobic Threshold: AeT) are far more race specific. We need to train our ability to move efficiently, with good form for many hours.
Aerobic Capacity // Aerobic Endurance - a fast Ironman is a 8-12 hour time trial. First and foremost, athletes must train their ability to simply go the distance – at any pace. Big week training addresses this universal critical success factor.
When you are extending endurance, be very careful with training above your steady zone in all sports. Sustained mod-hard efforts result in extended recovery. My experience is that each hour of mod-hard (tempo) exercise, likely results in at least three hours of steady training being missed.
When extended yourself through camp, it’s best to remain focused on the goals. Save the majority of your sport-specific strength work for the specific preparation phase of your season. Excess fatigue generated from appropriate camp work will tend to clear in 24-48 hours. Fatigue generated from excessive mod-hard and hard training can take weeks or months to clear. Part of the lessons of camp is that we have limits, one of the nice things is that we find that they are nearly always further than we expected.
If you ever decide to do one of these remember its YOUR camp, train YOUR intensity. Have a great weekend.