What kind of nutritional supplements are people using? Anything cramp specific, I am increasing my workouts and notice some little cramps now and then. I have heard a lot about Hammer and feedback would be appreciated. 

Since this is my first Ironman I am looking for some advice on training not from the Pro's or someone that does a 10 hour Ironman. I am looking for advice from someone that has done a couple and has improved their own time. I know that I can't do the same workout as the high level pro's or a person who does a 10 hour time. Currently I do something like this; 3 times a week in the morning I do weight training. 2 times  week in the afternoon I do swimming for about 45 minutes, I bike anywhere from 25 to 50 miles, then I run for 1 hour. The other 3 days I try to concentrate on running, swimming or biking only. 

Any advice or criticism is welcomed, I found this forum to be very informative so I am hoping I can get some free advice, thanks in advance and see everyone at St. George's finish line.

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Curt-I'm no expert but have been experimenting for a few years on the nutrition.  One of the toughest things for me to dial in was salt/sodium/potassium intake and it seems to be universal.  Cramps can also come from overtraining or stretching past your current endurance limits.  I started out using Hammer's endurolytes, but after bonking on a half in vegas I realized I need more salt.  When I'm in a race or working out hard for more than a couple of hours I like to take a salt stick tab 1X per hour.  That seems to work for me, but everyone's different.  Staying hydrated goes without saying, but it takes some time for you to build up to a high level of hydration.  Before long workouts, I drink a lot of water with those fizz tabs (Hammer and Gu make them).  From what I've read, most people need to take in between 250 - 400 calories per hour while racing/working out, try to figure out how you can do that with some things that you like.  I've been using Hammer Perpeteum for a few years and like the ratio of carbs:protein, so if you can handle the taste, it's a good option.  On the really long rides I try working in some real food . . .bananas, crustable sandwich, etc.  There are so many gels, chews and bars out there, find something that you like.  Right now I'm in a Gu gel phase and on the bike I've been eating these honey stinger chews-they rock!

As for your training, I'm not sure I have much to offer. I'm sure the best advice can come from a coach.   My IM swim sucked, so I'm working through Gale Bernhardt's swim workouts for triathletes along with some coaching.  My run is guided by Bobby McGee's Run Workouts (it has plans for all running races and triathlons with 3 different levels)  Chris Carmichael has a book for the Time Crunched Cyclist that has some really focused workouts that keeps it to about 7 hours a week.

Good luck and train safe

Thanks I will check out some of the products you mentioned, where do I get the salt sticks?

Sorry this is a little late, but do you use the Salt pills as well as the electrolyte drinks?

Brian, I did buy Salt stick just waiting for my trip to Florida next week I should be able to use it there. Thank you for replying tho, better late than never. :>)

You should be able to find them at most bike and/or run shops--blue bottle.





Curt - In addition to sodium, magnesium, or the lack of, plays a role in cramping. Unlike sodium, we can not get magnesium into the boodstream quickly by the oral route. Salt taken orally can help us during a race fairly quickly. Its takes days or weeks to raise our magnesium levels orally. So it won't hurt and may help to take a magnesium oxide supplement found at any drug store. 250 to 500 mg daily will ensure good levels. It could take up to 2 weeks to notice improvement. The previously mentioned suggestions are important also. Magnesium is often a forgotten piece of the puzzle.

Good Luck, Terry

Thanks Terry I will do some research. 

I used carbo pro, easy on my stomach (which is sensitive), but needed to add electrolyte capsules, and last year had cramps. Trying ultra fuel (twin labs) this year, and salt stick capsules. I weigh 150 lbs and they t take in 400 cal an hour on bike, which allowed me to even split my bike this past year. If you have to focus on one thing, focus on the bike, and practice your bike nutrition.

I agree with Wasserman about bike-focus. In my opinion, long bike rides are the best place to see what will actually work for you. If you bring a few things, your appetite will guide you to what your body wants.

On cramps, don't forget the resting-diet component! It's as much what you eat normally as what you eat during activity. I think it's possible to get away with almost anything when you're training, but there are still lots of food items that just don't work with endurance activities. It's almost too much to get into, so I'll just say: on the days you get cramps, note not only what you were eating during the workout, but what you ate the day(s) before. It could just be that you didn't take on enough salt during that particular session, but if you just came from, for instance, IHOP, where you had 4 glasses of whole milk, some kind of heavy meat, and topped off with ice cream cake, well, that could be an issue. Your body wants certain, specific things when it's active.

Also, product experimentation is key. Someone at my local tri-shop can get through an Ironman entirely on a concentrated mixture of perpetuem and carbo-pro. Personally I can use only water, Power-Gel, and maybe a bag of Miss Vickie's sea-salt and vinegar chips. In training, subway and quizno's subs hit the spot. I've found that I hate Gatorade, cliff bars/gels, and GU-Gels, but I know that for others those are perfect for the active palate. Go to the nutrition isle of your local store and grab anything that looks tasty and have food-review competitions between them all. Don't force anything. In my opinion, the only deciding factor is taste, because your body's basic mechanisms are letting you know what they want in the simplest terms.

Are they G.I. cramps?

Or muscle cramps (like in the legs, butt, etc)?

Muscle cramps in the legs.

I haven't done IM before, but had had a decent amount of marathon, ultra, and stage marathon experience (plus the usual assortment of Oly tri's).

I too get muscle cramps in the legs badly if I don't take electrolytes. Once I "discovered" them, cramps ceased to be a problem.

Lots of brands out there. I attended a seminar once that went over a few different top brands and the capsules that  seemed to have the best overall blend were by Salt Stick. They're not just salt tabs, they're a full electrolyte supplement. But most any of them is probably a decent choice.

If you haven't used electrolytes before, you should. Its made a big difference for myself and some buddies of mine with the same previous issues. I have found that starting a race with 3 capsules and popping 1-2 every 30-40 minutes works great for me. Everyone is going to have a different formula. So give yourself enough time to experiment before the big race day.

PS. Salt Stick also has some cool bar end dispensers for electrolyte pills too so you don't have to break stride on your bike to pop some pills.


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