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Taylor and I are extremely hungry people.  Part of this can be attributed to our athletic pursuits, but most of it is innate – we both have insatiable appetites.  It’s come at no surprise that our appetites have spiked recently now that we’re in training mode again.  Although we’re both clean eaters 80% of the time, even heaping portions of the healthiest foods will add extra calories to your diet and ultimately tack on unwanted pounds – weight that could ultimately offset some of the sport-specific gains you’ve made.  Here’s a simple rule that will help you remain cognizant of how to fuel your body optimally as your volume spikes.

Looking forward to another Ironman finish at Ironman Lake Tahoe

Looking forward to another Ironman finish at Ironman Lake Tahoe

Eat according to your plan

Sounds easy right?  Let’s see how this works in practice, using my current training week as an example:

  • Monday: 1 hour swim
  • Tuesday: 45 minute spin class, 45 minute weight lifting session
  • Wednesday: 1 hour swim, 1 hour track workout
  • Thursday: 1 hour bike ride
  • Friday: 1 hour run, 1 hour swim
  • Saturday: 2 hour run
  • Sunday: 3 hour bike, 20 minute run

When I break the week down, I know that my biggest workouts fall on Saturday and Sunday, and I will not only need to fuel more for those, but also add some extra fuel on Friday to support the effort.  This won’t be a formal “carb load”, but instead of having a half cup of grains with dinner, I’ll have a full cup.  I may even definitely eat some extra dark chocolate too.

Part of a successful training cycle for me will be executing my nutrition plan, and portion control and smart eating are essential.  I’ve worked very hard to make speed gains in the past year, and it would be a shame to plateau or slow my progress due to overrating.  It’s not to say that I won’t snack or eat when I’m hungry – I will, but it’s about how much and when.  By eating according to your plan, you’ll always have a rough outline of which days will require more fueling and when you may be overeating.  It will take some time to strike a balance – especially during your first training cycle in a new sport, but your body will thank you once you do.