Episode 76 - What Can You Achieve When You Focus on Your Triathlon Nutrition for 12 months?
What Can You Achieve When You Focus on Your Triathlon Nutrition for 12 months?
Introducing our first Triathlon Nutrition Academy Alumni! Jill Gaudio, Luis Franco Marin and Jason Currie have all just finished 12 months of working on their triathlon nutrition.
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Episode 76: What Can You Achieve When You Focus on Your Triathlon Nutrition for 12 months?
Taryn Richardson 00:00
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 00:38
Joining me on the podcast today I have not one guest but three - so we'll see how it goes. But joining me is ... the first athletes through the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program. We've got Jill from Texas, who just did a half marathon after concussing herself a few days prior building a pool house out the backyard. Welcome Jill.
Jill Gaudio 01:03
Glad to be here.
Taryn Richardson 01:04
We also have Luis who is Mexican, currently in Mexico, but does live in Australia. And he's our resident data nerd and spreadsheet expert.
Luis Franco Marin 01:13
Hey, everyone - pleasure to meet you.
Taryn Richardson 01:16
And then Jason - Jasey, who is a crazy Brisbane endurance athlete who runs 100 miles just for fun. He did 12 Ultras in 12 months for shits and giggles, basically. And it's been a pleasure to work with all three of them on their nutrition for the last 12 months. So what I wanted to do today was to see what you've done with your nutrition over the last 12 months. Like we go through a lot inside the Academy, I'm not going to lie. One of my things that I worry about is that I do overwhelm you with all the things because there are so many things that you need to do when it comes to triathlon nutrition
Taryn Richardson 01:50
But Jill, when you started, you were so afraid to eat carbohydrate, you couldn't even make it through training sessions. And now look at you go. So what are some of the things that have changed for you, Jill over the last 12 months now they understand a little bit more about what triathlon nutrition needs to look like?
Jill Gaudio 02:07
I learned from you that when you do endurance training, you need to eat to see results. Otherwise, all that work you put in is going to not stay - like, you won't gain anything. So I did start eating and embracing carbs. And I improved my 5km time by eight minutes and my 10km time by seven. And I also am cycling six kilometers per hour more on the bike consistently in this past 12 months. So it's really been a huge change.
Taryn Richardson 02:36
Amazing. They're huge gains! Like, that's not a couple of seconds here and there. They're, like, minutes! But also how do you feel in your training sessions now compared to how you felt before?
Jill Gaudio 02:45
I feel good. Now I feel strong the whole time. I used to just like slog through sessions. And now I stampede through them.
Taryn Richardson 02:56
Such a great analogy.
Jill Gaudio 02:58
I have more power now - I have strength, I have power, because I am fuelled. So it makes a huge difference. Like I didn't believe it until it actually started working.
Taryn Richardson 03:08
Right. I think it'll take a little bit more than a year to get out of that diet mentality with training.
Taryn Richardson 03:08
And it was a bit of a struggle in the beginning wasn't it? Like getting you to understand that carbs are your main source of fuel as an endurance athlete, and then being able to psychologically add them into your day to day eating. It is a challenge for a lot of people - like you're not the only person that struggles with that. There's a lot of carb phobic triathletes out there. I need a psychologist in the program to help kind of tackle that. I always joke that I bootstrap as one. But my skills only stretch so far in that space. But amazing that you can have such massive gains in your performance by being a little bit more comfortable with carbohydrate. It's still something we're working on, right? It's not something that is completely fixed in 12 months, but something to keep working on, to keep progressing, when it comes to training and performance.
Taryn Richardson 03:46
And you've got your eyes set on some pretty big sights. What have you got planned for this year? 2023.
Jill Gaudio 04:08
2023 - I should do my first marathon and hopefully my first Ironman as well. So we'll see how it goes.
Taryn Richardson 04:16
So exciting. How long have you been doing triathlon for?
Jill Gaudio 04:18
I did my first one in 2013 - just a sprint. And then ever since then I just did sprints because I really, I never could have the endurance to go further. Like I had only run like one 10km before this past year. So now that I'm like running half marathons and things like you know, the possibilities are out there now for me to do more.
Taryn Richardson 04:40
Yeah, I'm excited to see you do your first ever Ironman. Very, very excited. Can I ask you quickly ... so you increased your carbohydrate in your day to day diet - so you're eating more fuel? Did your body composition change as a result?
Jill Gaudio 04:56
Yes, but not in the way that you would think. I weigh more more, but I lost inches. So I have more muscle, and I look better and my clothes fit better. So you know, it changed in a good way.
Taryn Richardson 05:09
You did the ultimate, you dropped fat and gained muscle and still ate more carbohydrate.
Jill Gaudio 05:14
Yeah, it's really strange. So I don't believe it.
Taryn Richardson 05:17
We just got to squash that dieting mentality out of your brain. I'm slowly trying to stampede that out of your brain.
Jill Gaudio 05:24
You will, you will.
Taryn Richardson 05:25
Alright, Louis, our data nerd, spreadsheet junkie - 12 months ago, what sort of things were you doing with your nutrition compared to what you're doing now?
Luis Franco Marin 05:35
I feel like that's a big question. But probably it's not a 12 month journey. Like, I guess I've been doing what I thought that was best - reading things on the internet and following whatever people were doing for years. And it was not really helping me. So I think that 12 months ago, you know, when I, when I decided to actually start looking after the nutrition, I was mainly focusing on recovery. But the reality is that it has changed. Even on my normal diet, you know, the fact that now I'm looking into not only eat more carbs, but actually eat properly so that I feel better, and I don't get sick as often. And I recover quicker. And I get less injuries, which is amazing, you know!? And it's all about, always something with me, trying to be on top of my nutrition. So it has been a massive change and a long journey. Yes.
Taryn Richardson 06:26
It's kind of a never ending journey, isn't it? It's not something that you do 12 months, and then you stop. It's this big evolution that will continue beyond this.
Luis Franco Marin 06:35
You don't know what you don't know, right? So 12 months ago, I thought that it was doing okay. Now looking back, I had no freaking idea. I didn't know what I was doing. And even now, I still question what else can I do to improve? Right? So I have my recovery nutrition, you know, after every session, and I can be on top of my racing plan. But even then, you know, it's like, as I said, before, you know, the unexpected might come and you might need to change something on or in the last week of tapering. And at a point in time, if you have the knowledge to support that change, you can do it. And I think that that's what I feel at this point in time - I feel confident that I can face changes and do it with confidence - that it will be okay.
Luis Franco Marin 06:35
So again, I'm not going to try anything new on race day. But you know, if I need to change a carb, for another, at least I know what I will be chasing for a ride. So if I have to change WeetBix for another type of cereal, I know what I'm looking for. And I know how I'm going to get the right amount of carbs instead of actually the right amount of something that, you know, somebody else is doing and it works for them. I'm not going to chase that. If I know that is not going to be the right thing for me.
Taryn Richardson 07:46
Yeah, perfect. I think that's a good place to be. And every athlete needs to listen to that and take that advice because you need to have your blinkers in a way - there's so much noise in the triathlon nutrition space. It's one of the most marketed to sports.
Luis Franco Marin 08:00
Oh, yeah. And when you get to race day, or even the check in time, you know, and you go to the Expo, and they have Gatorade everywhere, but you haven't tried Gatorade in your training, you know, it looks fantastic. But by all means, maybe try it later. But at that point in time, you know, you know, that might not be the right thing for you.
Taryn Richardson 08:17
I love that you said that - I've taught you well. So one of your biggest hesitation when you joined - I still remember the email you sent me clear as day - was that you really couldn't understand how this would be an individualised thing. Like you weren't sure if you're going to get the specifics that you needed for you rather than it being just a one size fits all - which you know now I don't believe in. But how have you got what you needed out of the program with the way that it's set up?
Luis Franco Marin 08:45
Yeah, well, I guess everything starts with my way of thinking back then right? It's just - it's a group learning, right? So you go online, and you're going to learn something that everybody is learning. So at that point in time, it seemed to me that, well, it's just a solution that fits all, right? But the reality is that the learning is not to teach everyone the same thing - it's just to teach them the basis, so that it can apply them to their own personal circumstances. And I think that that's the difference - that you tell us that you have to eat certain amount of carbs, you know, before your training or even for your recovery, or during the race, you know that this is recommended. This is blah, blah. But the reality is that what I do today, even if Jill, Jason and I learned the same thing, we're probably approaching it in a different way, having totally different nutrition or different foods. But at the end of the day, we are doing the right thing for us as individuals and I think that that's what I took out of it. You know, it's like the fact that everybody learns or everybody listens to the same thing doesn't mean that you're going to get the same outcome because once you learn the theory and the basics you apply it to your own circumstances. And I like that a lot, because I might be heading into summer and I've been training for a different race condition and I'd be sweating more and Jill might be heading into winter and in totally different circumstances. So if and even if we learned the same thing, the same week, we will be doing it, or approachingm it in different ways. That was a good learning. So totally changed my mind during the training.
Taryn Richardson 10:24
I think the value lies in Power Hour too, where we jump on Zoom like we are today. And we get to talk through everything that you need specifically for you. And you get to meet other legends, like these three, who are going to be your lifelong friends now, I hope.
Luis Franco Marin 10:38
Well, I learned so much from everybody in the Power Hour, right? It's just that somebody's just going through their nutrition plan for the week. And it seems that they're using all the time. But the reality is, everybody's listening. And at that point in time, you're saying, "Oh, maybe I'm missing that point", or I didn't understand that clearly. And other point in time it's really good to actually clarify those and get the feedback from others. Plus all the support, right? So if you make a mistake, nobody's going to laugh or say, like, "Awh, you've got it wrong" - it's the fact that everybody's learning. So we share experiences as we learn.
Taryn Richardson 11:12
We actually have a push up rule. So if you say "Sorry", or apologise for asking a question, you've got to do 10 push ups, or 10 burpees, I think it evolved to in the end! Like stop apologising for asking questions. That's what this is for.
Luis Franco Marin 11:25
Taryn Richardson 11:26
So Jase, you came to me, having never done any nutrition education whatsoever. You've never seen a dietitian. You've never had a race nutrition plan. And you've just done 12 Ultras in 12 months! I have no idea how you survived that. Over the last 12 months, what are some of the things that you've learned and implemented? And what has been the result of that?
Jason Currie 11:50
Yeah, no, absolutely had no idea about triathlon nutrition going in. And I think I found the email I sent you when I sort of inquired about the Academy and I said, it's a real blind spot for me. I'd signed up for my first Ironman. I was maybe a few months into training for that. And I think around when I enquired, I'd done six of the 12 Ultra marathons, but with no nutrition. And I was another one of your carb phobic athletes. I'd done a few gym challenges in the six months preceding and, you know, a lot of them teach you to eat low carb to get quick gains. So I was probably feeling quite lethargic, and pretty flat. I thought I knew nothing about triathlon nutrition. And then I realised how little I really knew once I started to attend the Academy - and how much I had to change my thinking when it came to fuelling, calorie deficits, carbohydrates and race strategy. So it's been a huge learning curve, and still scratching the surface - I've still got a lot to go.
Taryn Richardson 12:47
So you just raced Sunny Coast 70.3 a few months back now, but that was the first race you'd ever done with a race nutrition plan. What was the end result of that for you?
Jason Currie 12:57
That was a good day. So that was a 51 minute PB for half Ironman distance.
Taryn Richardson 13:01
Not five minutes. Not one minute. He said 51 minutes!!
Jason Currie 13:06
Yeah, and most of that was in the run. I think the bike was still a bit quicker than I had previously done but it was really getting the nutrition right before the event. So carb loading going in, but then getting it right on the bike, so that when I got off the bike, I didn't have to do a lot in the run for nutrition to keep it topped up. But I had legs that worked. And I could be confident that if I took what I planned to take in the run that I could get to the end at the pace I started the run at - and that's what happened.
Taryn Richardson 13:33
No walking, no bonking or hitting the wall - like you could actually push through the end and push through that finishing chute as well. So that you could, like, peg off a couple of people too right?
Jason Currie 13:42
Yeah, absolutely. That last kilometre in the 21kms was my fastest. You know, when you see a few people with the category on the back of their calf up ahead of you, you find something extra. And, fortunately, the carbs were there to get my legs to keep moving.
Taryn Richardson 13:54
Yeah, I was just gonna say that. You can't do that - you don't have that top end speed if you have no glycogen left or you have no carbohydrate available to create into energy. So a testament to what happens for you when you have a plan. I'm really looking forward to your 2023 because you've got some big things coming up. What have you got planned this year?
Jason Currie 14:12
Well I've got two focus areas for this year. One is the Townsville qualification - so for the world long course world championships, the ITU race in Townsville, 2024. And the other focus would definitely be trying for Kona qualification. So my target race there will be Cairns Ironman. We've got New Zealand Ironman start of the year, just to test nutrition and test race preparation, but the big focus is Cairns Ironman and pushing for Kona there.
Taryn Richardson 14:37
Nice. I'm excited to see how that pans out for you with a plan.
Jason Currie 14:41
Absolutely. I know that on paper I can do the times that I know I need to do - but it's always been fuelling. I'd never realised before why I couldn't get off the bike and run like I knew I could. Because obviously you can't just slap the times together for the three disciplines without nutrition or without proper training. So that's the big difference going into this year - is getting that longer training right. But being fuelled. Your legs might feel ok on the bike, but if you haven't fuelled properly they're not. And I've learned that the hard way.
Taryn Richardson 15:09
That's okay, you're here now - we got you sorted. It's not wasted time, it's all learnings. You've just done some really good, probably fat burning pathway adaptations. Now we're going to flip the script and do some periodisation and implement carbohydrates strategically where it matters.
Jason Currie 15:25
Yes, I've done the fat burning sort of endurance Ultra marathons, because I wasn't taking enough carbs. But also a lot of my Ultra marathons were trail marathons and that allows you to slow down, to eat, stop. And the aid stations in a trial are very different to road, you know - they have potatoes and potato chips and pizza and God knows what. They say Ultra Trail is, sort of running around in the bush looking for aid stations. Whereas in road marathon or road, you know, Ultra marathon, it's not the same, you know? You're doing 4 - 4 1/2 minute, or maybe a five minute pace, and you can't stop and eat so you've got to try and get that tiny cup of electrolytes in your mouth. Or, like you're teaching me, to carry carbs - to carry what I need on the run so that I can take it as I go, rather than trying to hit aid stations every three kilometres and bonking halfway through.
Taryn Richardson 16:09
Yeah, just to be a bit more self sufficient for you because you want to go fast, and you don't want to slow down at those aid stations. So it's really important that everyone has their own specific plan. That's what's going to work best for Jason. Like you on the bike in a triathlon race didn't even have that kind of right, because balance is an issue for you. And getting that right for Sunny Coast was probably a big part of the success of actually getting some fuelling on board. Because you had a plan and the logistics of how you're going to do everything that was perfect for you rather than blindly following what someone else is doing.
Jason Currie 16:40
Yeah, absolutely. My Ironman nutrition, I'd intended to take bottles, you know, sip bottles, have them behind the seat, all those sorts of things, and not appreciating the balance and coordination challenges that I've got. I'm living with a brain cancer, so it's a bit of a challenge on the bike. So adapting that to a race strategy, that meant I didn't have to reach behind the seat or try and grab bottles from down below and have the carbs available. And I knew that if I finished the bottle that was my target for the ride.
Taryn Richardson 17:09
Easy. Doesn't have to be complicated.
Jason Currie 17:11
Not complicated. And the confidence it gives you when you're taking what you know is the right amount. You've calculated the amounts - you've set them up. And you can also adapt. So if you know you're down a bit, or you're short, maybe you can grab a gel, and you know roughly what the carb replacement is and get that fuelling right on the fly.
Taryn Richardson 17:28
So for all three of you, what is one awesome thing that you've absorbed or picked up in the last 12 months that you think is really kind of revolutionised your entire life?
Jason Currie 17:38
So I'd just say periodisation. You'll hear it a lot if you do the Academy. Periodise food to training. Periodise recovery to training. So getting the right mix of foods for the right day, and not just trying to repeat the same plate of food every day, every session.
Taryn Richardson 17:54
Good one. Luis?
Luis Franco Marin 17:56
For me has been the recovery part. So it's just learning how important it is to recover after your training and especially after a race day - not just go out and have a beer and believe that everything will be fine. For my case - body mass is quite important and very easy to lose. So recovery made a massive difference for me.
Taryn Richardson 18:17
That's one of the great outcomes you've had over the last 12 months - is that you really struggled to maintain your weight. Like you just kept losing - you increase your training, you drop weight. So what has actually happened to your body composition over the last 12 months?
Luis Franco Marin 18:29
So, I have increased weight. But again, not in body fat but in muscle mass. So that is incredible. Something that I haven't been able to do for 10 years or more. So yeah, periodisation is important, but the recovery has made a massive difference because I feel ready to start training even after race day, you know, one or two days max of resting, I'm ready for training and I feel full of energy. So yeah, I think he's been a massive difference.
Taryn Richardson 18:58
Awesome. What about you, Jill?
Jill Gaudio 19:00
For me, it's probably Power Hour. I liked being able to ask you questions because you know, we read magazines, we read online - "You should do this", "Oh, this is the best way". There's a different nutrition book every week coming out so it was nice to like be able to ask you about it and, like, have an honest answer - instead of just like a 'popular thing' you know!?
Taryn Richardson 19:22
Yeah, I definitely have a bit of a No BS type methodology, don't I? I'm going to give it to you straight. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. But it just means that I'm not going to tell you what you think you want to hear. I'll tell you what you need to hear.
Jill Gaudio 19:36
I loved when you used to go "Don't do anything weird".
Taryn Richardson 19:38
Don't do anything weird in race week. People do weird things in race week. I don't know what it is but you're in just, you know, a noisy environment - it's easy to get distracted. Don't do anything weird. Just be normal. Well, thank you guys so much for joining me. This is like honestly one of my favorite parts of the program as well - like our weekly Power Hour, where we all jump on together and everyone's off mute, everyone chats about what they're up to. We kind of finesse plans, ask questions, get you unstuck.
Taryn Richardson 20:07
There is Power Hour that continues off the back of the program because it is people's favorite part. It's not something that we ever stop because, like these three - Jill, Jason, Luis, they are so invested in what each other is doing now. Like they want to know how Luis went in Los Cabos. They want to know what Jason's doing in the Gold Coast 50km. So thank you so much for jumping on and sharing your experiences with me. All three of you have amazing stories. And I've loved watching the evolution of your nutrition over the last 12 months. But this is not the end.
Luis Franco Marin 20:42
Jill Gaudio 20:42
Jason Currie 20:43
No, it's just the beginning.
Taryn Richardson 20:44
It's just the beginning! Jill is calling for Phase Four, but I'm not sure I quite have it in me yet. But there is an alumni program that we'll keep under wraps for now. Well, thank you for tuning in from Texas, from Mexico and from Brisbane. You guys have a good evening/day.
Luis Franco Marin 20:59
Same to you.
Jason Currie 21:00
Taryn Richardson 21:01
I really hope you enjoy that episode today with some of our alumni from the Academy program.
Taryn Richardson 21:06
If you're ready to kickstart your 2023 on the best foot possible when it comes to your nutrition then now is your opportunity to come and join us inside. Doors are open on the 21st of January for a short week and then they snap close again until we open them again in, you know, three to six months time. By that point you could already be through Phase One and have a really solid plan for what your day to day nutrition looks like. Give me nine to 12 months with you and you will be flying like these three are when it comes to their nutrition. So if that sounds like you, head to dietitianapproved.com/academy.
Taryn Richardson 21:47
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 www.dietitianapproved.com/academy. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to helping you smashed in the fourth leg - nutrition!