Experience is invaluable, in nutrition as in any other area of life. But when good advice comes a little too late, it can easily turn bad if you get it wrong. Professional tri-athlete Michael Raelert still has the bitter aftertaste of just such an incident to this day:
“Don’t forget to fuel properly. It’s absolutely vital,” said my brother, Andy, as he drummed his advice into my head on the phone, just a single day before the Ironman 70.3 Oceanside in March 2010. He’d already done a race or two in his time and had a few bad experiences. So when your big bother goes on and on to you down the phone about fuelling properly, you instinctively know you really ought to do something. The only thing is: stupidly, this was all at the last minute, with just hours to go before the race.
In a fit of pre-race panic, I rushed to the nearest supermarket and grabbed everything I could off the shelves. Back in the hotel, I read the recommendations on how to prepare it and mixed the drinks completely in line with instructions. A bit of this, a pinch of that…phew! That was close. But now everything was perfect. Or so I thought, at least.
To be honest, the cocktail I had mixed was absolutely disgusting, and my stomach wasn’t used to it at all. So, as the race proceeded, about two thirds of my drink actually made it into my body for a brief moment. But then it exited immediately, thrown up sky high. Every time I tried to drink as I cycled along, it all came right back up again. I kept on trying, but to no avail. It was the same thing every time: drink a bit, hold your breath, feel that stomach, and then up it would come again.
I really paid the price during the run. It drove me crazy! It was good job I had finished the bike race so far ahead, because that gave me a head-start in the final discipline. In the end, I managed to put the whole thing to bed, but I certainly didn’t feel too good about it. Afterwards Andy and I spoke again. Admitting my big brother had been right yet again felt almost as bad as my home-brewed concoctions. It’s just so important to get your fuel right in good time.
Shortly after the event, we got together with the guys from PowerBar – because that was definitely the last time I was going to put myself through anything like that!