Episode 115 - Retirement to Ironman in 18 months with Age-Group Triathlete Kelly Estes

Retirement to Ironman in 18 months with Age-Group Triathlete Kelly Estes

Kelly Estes from Idaho Falls in the USA has been busy for the last 18 months. He retired in 2022 after a 34-year career as a division director in the nuclear industry and prior to that, was in the US army for 20 years.

After giving up his desk job, Kelly knew he wanted to look after his health and be more active. He found a love for triathlon and has been working his way up to his first full distance race at Ironman California next weekend.

As an engineer by trade, Kelly loves a good spreadsheet, data, trends, and like most triathletes, wants to do the best he can with his training and nutrition. He’s found the perfect combination with TriDot and the Triathlon Nutrition Academy.

So what has Kelly been working on with training and nutrition to build to his first Ironman? Tune in to find out!

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Episode Transcription

Episode 115: Retirement to Ironman in 18 months with Age-Group Triathlete Kelly Estes

Taryn Richardson  00:00

Today I'm kicking off a bit of a new series on the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. Recently, I put a call out to our free Dietitian Approved Crew Facebook group for what people were most interested to hear about. And it actually surprised me but they were most interested in hearing about age group triathletes and their journey with training and nutrition. So there is no one better to get this series started than Kelly Estes. Kelly is a seasoned punter on the TNA podcast. I think we're up to Episode 3 or 4 even. You would have heard him back a while ago when he spoke with Chris Tubbs, another Academy athlete about how much money they were saving as a result of joining the program. Plus another episode with Kelly, Steve and Chris about their journey of nutrition over nine months.

Taryn Richardson  00:53

And today it is just me and Kelly. Kelly is from Idaho Falls in Idaho in the USA. He is retired so he is a full time pro triathlete, although he will hate me say that he's pro. But he doesn't have the ball and chain of having to work anymore, which honestly really suits him. When he was working, he was in the US Army when he was younger, retired from that in 1998. And then afterwards, he worked in the nuclear industry. He was a Division Director, the Advanced Test Reactor and he retired in 2022. He found his love for triathlon very much later in life, having only been doing the sport really for about 18 months now. But he currently is training and preparing for his first full distance event at Ironman California very, very soon.

Taryn Richardson  01:46

He is a Triathlon Nutrition Academy Athlete Alumni. He's in our Supercharged Squad which is our secret little place that we get to hang out after the program is finished. And Kelly is my data nerd. He loves numbers, he loves spreadsheets, he loves analysing trends, he likes putting things in neat little boxes. And like most triathletes, just wants to do the best that he can with his training and nutrition. So I'd love you to hear his story. He's a lifelong learner. He even did a nutrition course to try and learn about nutrition himself. And in theory, he's a qualified nutrition coach. Sorry to laugh, Kelly. But one thing he did say to me was it was nothing compared to what he did learn in the Academy Program. So without further ado, let me introduce you again to Kelly. 

Taryn Richardson  02:41

Welcome to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. The show designed to serve you up evidence-based sports nutrition advice from the experts. Hi, I'm your host Taryn, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Advanced Sports Dietitian and founder of Dietitian Approved. Listen as I break down the latest evidence to give you practical, easy-to-digest strategies to train hard, recover faster and perform at your best. You have so much potential, and I want to help you unlock that with the power of nutrition. Let's get into it.

Taryn Richardson  03:18

Joining me today, back on the podcast for what I think is the third time, so definitely not new to the TNA podcast is Kelly Estes. Thank you for joining me, Kelly.

Kelly Estes  03:28

Hi, Taryn. Thank you for having me.

Taryn Richardson  03:29

I'm really excited to talk to you again. Like I keep getting you back because you have such great insight into triathlon training and nutrition and most excitedly, you're about to do your first ever Ironman. So I'm going to get you to share all the things that you've been working on with training and nutrition to head into that which is really exciting.

Kelly Estes  03:51

Yes, great. I'm glad to share.

Taryn Richardson  03:54

So you are relatively new to the sport. You are now retired - retirement life definitely suits you. You get to train wherever the heck you want, which is amazing. But how did you find going from not doing triathlon to then suddenly doing triathlon? And what do you use as your training platform of choice?

Kelly Estes  04:14

When I retired, I had this same thing that I wanted to be more physically active. And before I retired, I started doing more walking to try to start making a change and trying to lose some weight. But throughout my whole lifetime though, I've been a runner. Whenever I joined the military when I was 17 years old, they start, you know, having you run and do exercises and things like that. And that just kind of carried on throughout my whole life. So I've ran off and on throughout my whole life. But the last probably 10 years of my career I really struggled exercising because I really got very time poor. I was having to support work. I had a mid level management position as a Division Director at a nuclear reactor that operated 24/7 and it was a pretty big time commitment.

Kelly Estes  05:00

Anyway, I had very little time for exercising, even walking. So whenever I retired, I knew that I wanted to do something to get feeling better, feeling healthier, lose some weight, just all those things that everybody really wants to do when they retire. So whenever I retired, which I was fortunate enough to be able to start taking some vacation right at the end of work as you transition, you go from vacation right into retirement. And while I was in this vacation stage, just before my retirement picture started, I saw this advertisement from TriDot which is my training platform. This TriDot program had what's called a pre-season project. And they allow you to sign up for two free months of TriDot training in exchange for they get to collect your data and use it to help develop their program.

Kelly Estes  05:51

And so I thought, hey, this is gonna be a great opportunity, two free months to try out something like this. It's going to help me with being more physically active. But triathlon was something I thought about for years of wanting to be involved in. I had done a couple of sprint distance triathlons back in 2006 and it was difficult to keep up with that. So I didn't do it more than just that, those two sprint distance events. Anyway, I knew I wanted to do it again. And that's kind of how it just started is when retirement came around and TriDot popped up on my Facebook feed, I decided to give it a try. And it just led to where I'm at today, because TriDot made it really easy to be successful. The training program wasn't that difficult. I could do it day after day. And so now I train six days a week and have one day off and it's worked out really well for me. I have avoided injury from exercise induced injuries and it's really worked out well.

Taryn Richardson  06:44

What is it that you love most about the TriDot platform?

Kelly Estes  06:46

They make it really very easy for you to be successful in terms of every day, they tell you exactly what you need to do in terms of your swim, bike, or run exercise. They tell you what warm-ups you need to do. They tell you how long you need to be exercising and at what pace you need to go. And in order for them to be able to tell you at what pace you need to go or for how long you need to exercise, they do periodic assessments. And right now for me, it's about once a month. I do an assessment where I do some kind of a swim assessment, and a bike assessment, and a run assessment. And the results of those assessments are fed back into their software program that used to tell me whatever my new swim speed needs to be, bike pace needs to be, or bike power, if you use power, and my run speed of what that needs to be.

Kelly Estes  07:34

And so I've just continually improved month after month ever since I've joined TriDot which is roughly been 18 months ago. And most recently, some of those successes, seen some pay off all that work is that for the three races that I raced in, I took first place in my age group for all three races. Now that is quite an improvement. Last year, I did the same three races and I was slower, much slower and I didn't take first place. This year I did. So the program's paying off as well as the nutrition side which I'm sure we'll get to. But TriDot has helped me get there to that successful completion of those triathlons and I'm thinking it's only gonna get better.

Kelly Estes  08:14

It has also given me the confidence to go the longer distances because when I started triathlon last year, the Olympic distance, which is what I've been racing locally last year and this year, the Olympic distance triathlons, it was a real challenge. Last year when I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon, I was telling the guy that is the operating official for that triathlon, I told him, man, that was hard. I don't know if I can do this again.

Taryn Richardson  08:14


Kelly Estes  08:14

But I kept coming back month after month, you know. Then here I am now. You know, after last summer of doing five Olympic distance triathlons and I did a 70.3 in Indian Wells, California, which was another one where I say, man, that was hard. But the training programs and the nutrition is helping me just look at that and go, yeah, it was hard but I did okay, and I'm getting better. So then this summer, I did the races taking first place. And now I have my first Ironman Distance scheduled for October, which is Ironman California. And I think that's really saying a lot about the training and nutrition program for me to have the confidence to be able to go for those distances for my age and physical ability given that two years ago, I had a desk job and maybe two, two and a half years ago, I weighed 50 pounds or 22 kilograms.

Taryn Richardson  08:45

Thank you.

Kelly Estes  08:52

More than I do now.

Taryn Richardson  09:12

Thanks for the conversion.

Kelly Estes  09:32

Yeah, yeah. So these things are all just making for a wonderful new lifestyle. Thanks to TriDot and the Triathlon Nutrition Academy.

Taryn Richardson  09:45

Yeah, and you love TriDot so much that you're actually an ambassador for the program which is really cool to see you so pro, getting people to use something like that, which I love. And I think it's nice for other triathletes to hear what people are using and what they like about it, maybe what they don't like about it because there are so many things available now and you know, the world is your oyster. But is there any advice you would have for somebody that is thinking about using the TriDot program?

Kelly Estes  10:11

They have these pre-season projects that come out at least once a year. I think the next one coming out is around the December timeframe. But you can go to the TriDot website, which is just TriDot spelled tridot.com and you can have a 2 week free trial anytime. So you can go out there right now and have a 2 week free trial and be able to go in and look at it and try it for two weeks. And whenever you do the free trial, you know, they have different levels that you can join at different kind of report or scales. But whenever you do the free trial, you get the maximum of all the options that's available to you that a maximum monthly payment might cost you otherwise, cause you get all that free to try it. And then after you try to put a couple of weeks, then you can go back and determine which one's the right fit for you.

Kelly Estes  10:56

And they have a very inexpensive program that I think started, I want to say $29 a month, seems right, and it goes up from there. But for $29 a month, it will fit for most any training program that most people have specially for beginners. It's going to work just fine for you, you can schedule your races and it's really very helpful. And then as you continue to use TriDot and see how well it works for you. If you decide you want to move up to a higher level, you can. And if that doesn't work, you can always switch back to the less expensive plan. But it's really very versatile.

Kelly Estes  11:27

And probably one of the other things that's very noteworthy for TriDot is the training programs are customised for you. So it uses your individual performance to determine your individual training programs so the prescribed swim, bike, and run training that they provide for you every day is custom for you. Another capability they have is you can have your DNA, your health DNA through some program like 23andMe. You can have that DNA file uploaded into TriDot and they will use that information to help customise your training program for the individual.

Taryn Richardson  12:02

I didn't know that. Did you do it?

Kelly Estes  12:04

Oh, yeah, I did it early on because one of the things that's kind of typical for a lot of us, especially as you get older is, if you don't have a training program that helps you avoid getting hurt, you're going to end up with some kind of an exercise induced injury at some point and it's going to cause you to have some downtime. And so by uploading your DNA in the TriDot program customised for you, what it'll do is it take that information and tailor your training. And so TriDot tells me that my DNA says that I'm more susceptible to getting hurt and that I need to have more recovery time or probably less strenuous exercise. So that's fed back into my TriDot training. And, you know, I can't tell the difference of what it would be whether I had the DNA file uploaded or not. All I know is that I get my daily training program, I go do it and I keep getting better. Month after month, I keep getting better and that's success.

Taryn Richardson  13:01

I've watched you evolve over the last 12 months with your nutrition and even training, too. Because when you first started in the Academy program, you were kind of jamming all of your sessions into the morning because you're retired and you've got the whole day. So you were getting like three or four sessions done all before lunchtime and then having a nap afterwards. So I've watched you evolve your training to be a bit more strategic around where you position your sessions as well even though you have all the time in the world. But what are some of the differences in your nutrition that you were doing before versus what you're doing now sort of 12 months later?

Kelly Estes  13:35

So I'm going to end up pointing back to the TNA specific programs for a lot of stuff. But what's really significantly different is that before I joined the Triathlon Nutrition Academy, my nutrition was based on just trial and error of things that I learned from years ago. I would end up buying this stuff and trying it so I was trying all kinds of different gels and all kinds of supplements, and powders, and shakes, and different things trying to figure out what was working. And it was difficult to tell what was working and what wasn't. I didn't have a way to kind of evaluate it so that I can even help myself know if I'm making the right decisions. I mean, I would listen to some nutrition programs, I would read books and things like that, but it was difficult to have a holistic picture that kind of took me by the hand and led me down the path of understanding each aspect of triathlon or day to day nutrition if I was doing the right thing.

Kelly Estes  13:35

So you know, when I first got into doing the triathlon training, I knew early on, which was almost 18 months ago, I knew early on that I had to do something to get better with nutrition. I knew I wouldn't be able to go long distance in triathlon unless I did something about my nutrition program. So I started doing a lot of research to figure out the best nutrition program. And I got some books and I actually got involved in some other nutrition programs. And then eventually I found the Triathlon Nutrition Academy and just reading the information on your website about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy. I knew that this was going to help me with the nutrition education that I needed and understanding it.

Kelly Estes  15:11

So I joined the program and from that, the things that you've taught us right from day one, has helped me in so many ways in terms of, you know, you start off with recovery nutrition - what do you eat or what do you do after your training. And so I started dialing that in right away because that was the first thing you were teaching us. And then pre training nutrition, and then into building your meal plan and periodisation, and all these other different programs that go on for 9 months. Eventually ,you get into sprint distance and Olympic distance specific nutrition. And then, ultimately for me, I wanted to understand Ironman because I wanted to do an Ironman and you taught us how to get the nutrition in the right place for Ironman. It's just such a big difference in what I eat now, which I guess we're gonna go into a little bit of detail about what do I eat? 

Taryn Richardson  15:59

Yeah, go for it. Tell us what you eat. It's like my favourite thing to talk about what people eat. I'm a total nerd.

Kelly Estes  16:06

So part of this will be, you're going to be shaking your head because I eat some of the same things every day. And you would say, you shouldn't eat the same thing every day and I know that, and over time it's evolving. Let's say for instance, though, whenever I'm exercising first thing in the morning and even most days when I'm not, I still have a bagel and I have a specific Dave's Killer brand bagels that we get. I have those with some honey on it. But over time, I've learned more about honey and so now I use a raw, unfiltered honey versus I used to just get some store bought honey that I never paid attention to what kind it was. So I put the honey on there and I have that with some coffee. 

Kelly Estes  16:48

And the reason I picked that is because you've given a certain target of how many carbs you should have before you exercise. And so my bagel and my honey hits that carb target as well as this quick energy. And so then whenever I turn around and go out the door to exercise, you know, maybe an hour after I've had that food, and my performance is as good as it's ever been for those morning exercise routines. So while still have that even on days when I'm exercising in the afternoons or something, I will still start my day with the bagel and honey. And so then right now, you know, I'm trying to get out in the heat of the day and exercise. So my trainings in the early afternoon now because here in the United States, even though it's early September, it's still hot, it's up in the mid 70s to low 80 degrees which is 27 degrees (26.6 degrees Celsius is 8 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Kelly Estes  17:40

So it's not too bad but that closely resembles what Ironman California is going to be.

Kelly Estes  17:45

It's going to be in the low 70s. And so the point was that I'm out there in the afternoons training in the heat so I'm trying to ride. It's going to take those long, you know, my forecasted bike time is 7 hours for an Ironman. And right now, my training rides are only a 5 and a half hours and building up to 7. 

Taryn Richardson  17:45

Yeah, perfect.

Taryn Richardson  18:04


Kelly Estes  18:04

I'm trying them all in the heat of the day. 

Kelly Estes  18:07

And then my run's the same way. I do them in the heat of the day. And so I'm trying to practice my nutrition. But before I go up those long rides, I might have a bagel and honey again in the afternoon or depending what is it but I'm trying to make sure I hit that carb target before I go out and exercise. And then, of course, you've given us carb and hydration targets during the ride or the runs that I focus on to try to hit those targets to include, you know, that gut training.

Taryn Richardson  18:07


Taryn Richardson  18:38

Yeah, and they're customed to you and what you're up to as well and not generic. It's specifically dialled in for where you're at building into an Ironman and also where your rides are at the moment to gut train as best as you can to maximise your absorption.

Kelly Estes  18:53

Do the eating and do the training. Tick, sounds easy. Sound simple, right?

Kelly Estes  18:53

Right. That's one of the wonderful things about TriDot is is they have you do these practice runs before the Ironman. So I'll actually get to practice a seven hour bike ride twice before the actual event. That means I also get to practice the nutrition and hydration, you know, that goes along with it. And so just collectively between TriDot and the Triathlon Nutrition Academy, I have everything I need to be successful. I just need to do the training and do the nutrition, do the right things.

Kelly Estes  19:03

Yeah, well that's why I really liked it and that's why I like you know, being able to come on the podcast and talk about it is because there can be a lot of incorrect information on the internet. Or as I was saying when we started this podcast, when I was doing triathlon in 2006, that kind of information and training programs were not there. Like there wasn't automated information, machine learning like TriDot's using to give you such a specific customised program. The nutrition information certainly wasn't there. I was reading Runner's World back then and I was eating, I don't remember what it was, if it's a Clif Bar or some Power Bar, I think the brand was Power Bar, and they were just this hard, square piece of something that was not that tasty. I certainly wasn't eating a certain amount of carbs per hour or drinking a certain amount of liquid per hour. I mean that stuff just, well, at least I didn't know about it back then.

Taryn Richardson  20:18

It makes it easier when you have a plan to follow, doesn't it? That you're just not second guessing things all the time and you know that what you're doing is going to help you achieve your goals. And you can tweak it and finesse it as you go but sometimes it just takes all of that overwhelm and confusion out of all the things that you could be doing for triathlon when you actually do you have a plan both training and nutrition to follow along with.

Kelly Estes  20:40

So the Triathlon Nutrition Academy, you know, you teach us how to identify the amount of carbs you should be taking in during the run or the ride and how to do sweat testing so you know how much water and whether it's sodium or other electrolytes you need to take in while you're running or riding. And so one of the things that's really nice about the program is that you have an idea of what you're supposed to be eating and drinking. And so then you get to practice it while you're out there riding and dial it in, you know, make sure that it is right for you. And it's customised for you. And it just gives you this feeling of being successful that's really wonderful. But maybe you have some occasional discomfort, but that's all part of the training is that, well, maybe you're eating and drinking too much, you need to back off a little bit. But you know that, you learn that, that's pretty valuable. You're getting all that trial and error out of the way before the race actually gets here. 

Taryn Richardson  21:32

Yeah, so good. Particularly for someone like you that loves a good spreadsheet and loves a plan, having something to follow. And then you really like to gauge how you're going and get that feedback which you're a bit lost with before. And you're really clear around like, if I implement this, am I going to feel different or not and what you're actually looking forward to. It kind of assesses positive or negative, what's the change here? And then what's the solution moving forwards.

Kelly Estes  21:57

The way you characterise it, you know, TriDot has this monthly assessment program that helps you understand if you're getting better or not and kind of helps you understand what to do about it. So really what you're talking about is, yeah, how do you tell with nutrition if you're on the right track or not? And are you doing the right things? Are you getting better? Are you fuelling for the longer distances or to support the training? And that's pretty important. So that is where my head goes is I'm trying to figure out how to assess if I'm on the right track with my nutrition. Because like I said before I started triathlon 18 months ago, I mean, you have no clue if you're on the right track, and you need a way, you need a way to know.

Taryn Richardson  22:35

Always, always. So one of the things we have talked about with you on the podcast before is how much money you are now saving as a result of not spending all that money on everything you would market at before. Have you noticed any difference between you know what you were doing with all of those pills and powders versus how you're feeling now considering that before you weren't training for an Ironman and now you are training for an Ironman?

Kelly Estes  23:01

So I can't tell the difference other than I have more money because and I'll mention the brand because the brand is a good brand. It's called Beachbody products because I was following what was called the P90x program. They had a P90x 1, P90x 2 and P90x 3 and I did all those because it was good strength training and stuff. Wasn't specific to triathlon but I was doing that before I got into triathlon helped me kind of get ready for triathlon. So I was buying a lot of their products which was their shakes, and their powders and things like that, and their drinks and stuff. And that seemed to work pretty good, right? I mean, I thought it was helping me get to where I need to go. But as I learned more about nutrition, I realised that that really wasn't what I needed. I was probably wasting my money. I eliminated those things from my diet. So I think I was in the $5 to $600 range is what I quoted. I didn't look at the spreadsheet before this podcast, but I think I was saving $5 to $600 US dollars, which is probably 900 Australian dollars in exchange rate.

Taryn Richardson  24:02

Yeah. $1000, yep. 

Kelly Estes  24:04

That's how much I'm saving each month. Right now, how do we stop taking the Beachbody products, but I've also taken multivitamins, I was also taking some calcium and magnesium supplements. They're all things that I just learned about over the years. And like, a lot of the stuff once you learn about it, and you think you need to take it, you start taking them and they just keep taking it for years. You don't know if you should stop or not. You just you know, at some point, figured you needed to be taking this multivitamin and it just goes on for years. Yeah, I'll take a multivitamin and it just goes on for years. And now that I understand nutrition better, all that stuff's gone and I'm spending money on other triathlon toys now.

Taryn Richardson  24:46

I'm glad I've saved you money to then further invest into things like bike bags and what else are you buying?

Kelly Estes  24:52

You know I bought Garmin. So I was really resistant to buy Garmin. I'm an Apple guy. I have an Apple phone, I have an Apple Watch. And eventually, I realised that the battery in the Apple Watch isn't going to last long enough to go on the Ironman. I learned that back in the 70.3, it barely got me through the 70.3. So I ended up buying a Garmin watch. So that's where some of the money goes. And then I bought a Garmin computer for my bike. So that's for some of them anyway. I bought a new wetsuit because I had money, I wanted a new wetsuit. The wetsuit I had before I've been using from 20 years ago, I mean, they never go back. So it's just like, I still had the old one, but I bought a new wetsuit. 

Kelly Estes  25:36

I bought a rocker plate for my bike, so do training in the basement. And I bought glasses for swimming, FORM brand, this pretty popular for swimming, which is really turned out to be a wonderful tool to help me with my swim performance. And it's those kinds of things that I've spent the money on. So you could either characterise this as you've saved me more money than the program cost. Because $5-$600 a month was more than what the Triathlon Nutrition Academy was costing. Or you could say, look at all these additional training tools that I have that's helping me improve my performance.

Taryn Richardson  26:13

I like the first one better, rather than just funneling you cash from useless supplements into more things. But triathlon is a very expensive sport, isn't it? And there's always more things you could buy. And you're a tech lover, there's always going to be more tech that you're going to be tempted by. But I'm okay with that because it's not giving money to the multibillion dollar supplement industry for stuff that's absolutely useless. Ah, I love it. Have you got a spreadsheet to like, check that the data is accurate and things like that? Where you got your heart rate and all those sorts of things, your sleep?

Kelly Estes  26:44

I've thought about that. I'm going to do that eventually.

Taryn Richardson  26:47

I don't want to add more to your to do list. 

Kelly Estes  26:50


Taryn Richardson  26:50

Kelly's our spreadsheet master if you haven't guessed. Very much an engineer, very analytical. And I'm starting to like spreadsheets a little bit more but Kelly's got some good ones to kind of track those things. So I give him stick but it's from place of love. All right, you're about to do Ironman, like really, really soon, we're a few weeks away. What have you been working on with your nutrition and your training to get you through that build? And when did that start actually? When did you start your Ironman training build?

Kelly Estes  27:22

So I think I started around 21 weeks out. And so I actually started with looking at a certain amount of carb intake per hour on the bike and the run and then upping that number each week over the 21 weeks. And so I'm getting to where I'm at this maximum carb intake and a maximum liquid intake per hour to try to make sure I can tolerate it on the bike. And then the idea is, is that when you're actually on race day, I will consume some lower amount, probably two-thirds of what I'm currently consuming that I'll consume on race day for carb and hydration and sodium intake. The pre-race nutrition, I practice. The during training nutrition, I practice. 

Kelly Estes  28:10

And then between training, the concept of periodisation, which is trying to eat a certain amount of carbs in a given day, characterised in three categories of whether it's an easy day, a moderate day or a hard day, I'm practising eating a certain amount of carbohydrates to support that training so that I have plenty of energy to get out there and train. In addition, to what I'm consuming while I'm training, it's the the food for recovery afterwards and preparing for the next day. And so that's really the biggies. 

Kelly Estes  28:44

One thing I'd kind of like because I'm the nerd as far as that Math aspect that as my rides get longer and my runs get longer, you have to sit down and do the Math for each week as my carb intake target increases. I have to calculate new amount of carbs to take on the bike. And of course, practice, making sure I have that in my bottles or gels that I'm taking with me. And that's kind of fun especially whenever I get into the rides and I'm going through it and I'm feeling good. And I feel like hey, this is working. I'm feeling good and I think I'm gonna be just fine. When I get to the Ironman, it's gonna work out just fine.

Taryn Richardson  29:23

Yeah. And you seem to be absorbing all the training at the moment which is almost peaking. And I don't think you've got sick and you haven't got injured, right? For somebody that thinks he's genetically more prone to being injured. Neither of those two things have happened.

Kelly Estes  29:38

Right. I haven't had to stop training. I did have a little bit of a hamstring problem last fall before my 70.3. That didn't stop me from training. It slowed me down just a little bit but all in all, I've been really very lucky. Yeah, that I haven't had to slow down, I haven't been getting sick. There are times whenever I felt fatigued, you know, after a summer of racing. With my last race being, I think the middle of August, in mid August, I was tired, I was fatigued. And I was glad that I had a couple of months break before the Ironman. But I felt good, I felt okay. I just felt fatigued. Like, I've been racing a lot. I've been training a lot, you know? 

Taryn Richardson  30:18


Kelly Estes  30:18

But I feel good. And I feel really good right now, right? I mean, it's just, it's amazing that I've gone 18 months without hurting myself and having to take time off.

Taryn Richardson  30:30

Yeah, it's about training availability which is something that I think we forget as triathletes. We try and do all the sprinkles on the icing on the cake all the time. But the best athletes are the ones that can piece together the most consistent blocks of training. And so you've had this really uninterrupted build heading into Ironman, which sets you up on the best possible foot for your day on the race, which I'm so excited to see you out there. No pressure, Kelly. We'll all be like screaming at the tracker for the day that you do do your race.

Kelly Estes  31:01

Yeah, yeah. And you know, I think I'm lucky for I'm retired. I'm able to get plenty of rest which is a big part of this is to get the recovery, the rest you need day to day as well as over time. 

Taryn Richardson  31:12


Kelly Estes  31:13

It's working pretty good.

Taryn Richardson  31:15

And you don't nap anymore, unless by choice, because you do like to nap. But when I first met you, because you were doing all this training and significantly under fueling, you were having to nap every single day to get through the day.

Kelly Estes  31:26

I would come back from training, this was early on, you know, about 18 months ago, I would come in and I would take a nap and I would take a nap for probably an hour or so. And then I would get up and I would continue my day and that was just a normal part of my training. I mean, I just built that in that that was going to be part of it because when I come back, I will be tired. And so I've come to learn eventually that it was what I was eating, and that I probably was under fueled and so that's why I was tired. 

Kelly Estes  31:55

But the other thing that I think most of us really like to do when we come back from training is we don't feel hungry. And so we don't want to eat and that's a mistake, right? That's one of the things I've learned is that when you come back from training, you have certain carb and protein targets that you need to satisfy after your training to kind of keep your energy up and help your muscles recover, to get ready for the next day. And so, you know, where I wasn't doing those things, I wasn't doing anything after training in terms of nutrition. I was tired, I just would lay down, take a nap because it felt good and get up and start my day. 

Kelly Estes  32:34

And so that's all changed. Now I don't do that anymore. When I come back from exercising, I immediately make sure that I'm eating and drinking what I need to do to hit my carb and protein targets. And of course that makes you feel good because you know you're on the right track for a very successful training program.

Taryn Richardson  32:53

Amazing. It's been wonderful to watch that journey as well. And you know to have the choice and the flexibility and the freedom to nap because you're retired and you have the day but then to not actually physically need that is been really good to see.

Kelly Estes  33:08

And that it's been nice. 

Taryn Richardson  33:09

So what am I do if you're okay with it, when we've got your race number, I'm going to put that in the show notes.  I'm going to put it on the socials so that we can all get behind you, Kelly for your first ever Ironman coming up shortly and just yell at the tracker for the entire day. I'm really excited to see how you perform. I feel incredible pressure. So hopefully you feel less pressure than I feel for you to perform on the day. 

Taryn Richardson  33:36

But it's been such an honour to watch your journey of nutrition transform over the last 12 months. And I feel like you still have so much to do, like it's not something that is set and forget and this is what we're doing forevermore. Like once you finished your Ironman that you know now what to do with your nutrition to adapt that to just general training and reducing your load which is really important. And you also know how to recover properly after your Ironman to make sure that you don't get injured and you don't get sick a couple of weeks after, which is a real risk for a lot of athletes. They cross the finish line and then it's like, all over, red rover.

Kelly Estes  34:17

Yeah, I know. There's a lot to it. And I'll tell you, I'm absolutely confident that I'm going to be fine in the Ironman. I mean, I'll have some anxiety the day before and that kind of stuff, which is normal for any race, but I feel very comfortable that my training and nutrition are as good as they can be in terms of I know what to do, I just need to do it. And I feel confident. I just need to keep training, do my training and eating, you know, doing the right things. So I feel very confident. You know, it's just really comes down to a question of how fast will I do it? My target completion time's around 14 hours. Will I do it less than that? I'm sure gonna try. I'm confident I can finish.

Taryn Richardson  34:58

Have you set your laid goals like Erin does? Like you're Super Happy, your Happy and like, your Rockstar Goal so that you're setting yourself up for success no matter what happens on the day?

Kelly Estes  35:07

Not like Erin, but what I can kind of look at it is, TriDot has helped me complete enough races with their forecast versus what I actually do that I am able to beat the forecasts most of the time for the Olympic distances. And so I feel confident. That's why I feel confident is that I know the 14 hour completion time, I can probably do that. Because I've had enough practice and enough training and enough experience actually racing, that I think I'm going to be okay. 

Kelly Estes  35:40

So in terms of what a success look like, well, if I hit the completion time, and I think my time is around 14 hours, the target, if I hit that, I'm going to be happy. But if I can beat it by any amount of time, you know, that's the happier I'm going to be if I can beat it by an hour. I suppose success is just finishing but I think the way everything's set up with the training and nutrition. It's almost an expectation, hey, I better finish by 14 hours for you guys. 

Taryn Richardson  36:08

I know. That's what I mean, I feel incredible pressure. It's all on me. 

Kelly Estes  36:12

No, no, I've been I've been practising and training enough that I'm absolutely confident that things are going to be okay.

Taryn Richardson  36:20

And that's how you want to feel when you're heading into the biggest race of your life. So that's so good. Kelly, thank you so much for joining me and sharing your age group journey, like how you train, how you eat. I know that you've been on the podcast a few times and it's always a pleasure to pick your brain and hear you talk about what you've been working on with your nutrition and training.

Kelly Estes  36:38

Thank you, Taryn. And I really enjoy the Triathlon Nutrition Academy. I recommend it to anybody that is doing triathlon and thinks they would help them. I mean, it's just part of that tool kit that I think everybody should have.

Taryn Richardson  36:49

Yeah, if you do want to come and join us and join in the fun, dietitianapproved.com/academy. We will open doors again in January 2024 which is coming around really fast. Thanks, Kelly.

Kelly Estes  37:01

Thanks, Taryn. Bye.

Taryn Richardson  37:04

Thanks for joining me for this episode of the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or want to share with me what you've learned, email me at [email protected]. You can also spread the word by leaving me a review and taking a screenshot of you listening to the show. Don't forget to tag me on social media, @dietitian.approved, so I can give you a shout out, too. If you want to learn more about what we do, head to dietitianapproved.com. And if you want to learn more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program, head to dietitianapproved.com/academy. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to helping you smashed in the fourth leg - nutrition!¬†

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