This month we have an insightful Q&A with Nathan Groch, who is one of our experienced long course Bindi athletes. Nathan lives and trains in north west WA in very hot and harsh conditions, and certainly knows how to nail his bike nutrition. He shares so much gold here, so read on to find out why you’ll never find anything taped to his bike!
Let’s begin with your top tip for beginners starting out on a long course race?
Start training with nutrition as early as you can in the lead up to the race across all disciplines. Start out with easier sessions so you can get used to the flavours/consistency and the way it sits in your stomach. Then introduce it into more intense training and eventually brick sessions.
Do you have a different nutrition plan based on what the course conditions are like?
I try to maintain the same carb intake per hour regardless of distance. I make slight adjustments to the amount of fluids and electrolytes during hot races based on what I had identified during heat simulation sessions in training.
How far out from the race do you plan & practice your nutrition?
I have been been constantly experimenting with different combinations of of fluids and food since I started racing. Living in Port Hedland gives me a great opportunity to practice in the hottest conditions that most people will experience racing. I use the same nutrition for races as I do in every training session.
I have a plan I am happy with for Kona, however I’ll continue to try different combinations of Carbs/Protein/Electrolytes and Water during brick sessions up until about 4 weeks out. This is mostly to test how much water I can take on without negative impacts due to the heat over there and my sweat rate.
“I’m constantly practicing nutrition, but lock my race plan in about 4 weeks pre-race”
Do you use a dietitian?
I competed in two Ironman and two Half Ironman before speaking with Dave from Catalyst Dietitian. The race plan he laid out gave me great insight into the nutritional requirements required to race. I then tweaked the plan based on my experiences on what worked for me during training ie. time to eat, increase in fluids. The information I did get was from David was invaluable and I still use it today.
Do you have a favourite trick for storing fuel on bike whilst minimising weight?
I’ve tried different combinations of solids and liquids and found purely liquid nutrition is best for me, though this definitely isn’t for everyone during an Ironman race.
The night before a race I put all of my nutrition in one easy to reach bottle, normally on the down-tube of the bike. It means not dealing with any packets or rubbish and getting turned into a sticky mess. This also means I can carry all of my nutrition with me on the bike with a back up bottle in special needs, and the only thing I will need to take from the aid stations is water and coke.
What gear do you use on the bike to carry nutrition?
During an Ironman I’ll have a refillable bottle between the arms with Bindi sports hydration, an aero bottle on the downtube with a concentrated mix (6hrs worth of Carbs and some salt). Behind the seat I’ll have a concentrated mix of Bindi, which I resuse to refill the bottle between the arms at aid stations. Depending on heat I’ll also have a big swig of water as I ride through the aid stations.
What’s the most common mistakes you see people make on the bike in terms of nutrition?
This is one I used to make, it may sound like common sense but I bet it’s happened to most people. Taking huge swigs of water or electrolytes and rather than getting fluids, taking on air instead. That’s a surefire way to feel bloated and sick. Take small sips and take them often, give your body time to process everything.
“The second thing is a dinner for two taped to the top tube of a
ridiculously expensive bike”
Tri suits have pockets and gel flasks are great. Not only will you not pollute the environment when the tape comes loose on the nutrition and you drop it, but it’ll tidy up the front of the bike.
I completely get wanting to have different options on the bike, kill a few birds with one stone and put the gels in flasks with a little water and salt if you need it.
What do you do if you feel like nutrition isn’t going well… how do you get back on track?
This is a tough one to answer as there a several ways it might not be going well and I’ve been very lucky to only have minor issues…
The first thing I do when I’m not feeling ok is tip water over my head, undo my zipper a little and cool down. I have personally found that stomach discomfort could be coming from overheating and be more of a mental reaction than physical.
If you need to puke or use the toilet, do it! Stopping once for 60secs is a much better than slowing down 60 secs/km for the rest of the race due to gut cramps.
What’s the one best tip that you recommend when people ask about nutrition?
Practice with it often.
And a final word of advice?
The most common conversation I have with friends and people new to the sport is about how little they know about their nutrition requirements, and how late they leave it before getting any help. Either do the research yourself, do it early and do a lot of it, or find a dietitian who can help map out a training and race plan for you.
“Last of all, keep it simple; the more I’ve simplified my nutrition strategy the better I’ve performed”
Keep an eye on our Kona coverage over the next month as Nathan heads to the big island to give it a red hot crack. He will be there with plenty of other Bindi athletes so head to our social media for inspiration and updates!
Enjoy the spring weather training,