As some of you already know, I typically use the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in March of every year as experimentation grounds for new things to try early in the triathlon season. Last year I was testing some new nutrition products, where I completely misjudged my hydration, got badly dehydrated and had a miserable race. If you enjoy misery, you can read about it
This year, I'm trying something different:
As some of you already know, I've spent the last 2 months or so fat adapting my body.
For those who don't know what that is, it means I've been
teaching my body to prioritize the use of stored body fat as a source of fuel
, not just for exercise but for daily functions in life. In other words. I've been working on making my metabolism more efficient: tapping into existing sources of energy (fat) rather than relying on constant fueling with carbohydrates.
I'm doing this for
general health reasons
primarily, but I also wanted to test the claims that you could comfortably make use of that strategy in endurance sports.
I'll publish a write-up soon about what I did over the past 2 months to fat adapt, but here are the highlights:
does not start and end with how you train and how you fuel your training
. A common misconception is that training "long and slow" will get you fat adapted. Sure, it will help, but if the rest of your day consists of 50% or more carb consumption, then you're sending mixed signals to your body: "yes I made you go long and slow in a fasted state, but don't worry there is plenty of carbs coming once you're done".
So. I've adopted a low carb diet in general, aiming at getting 20-30% of daily energy needs from carbs, the rest from fat (60%) and protein: trust me, it's a lot easier to stick to than you think.
I've allowed myself 1 "free" day of carb eating every week (eat more carbs, closer to 200g) or so to maintain
good insulin sensitivity and thyroid function
I've "messed" up more than I would have liked, given work commitments etc, but I would say I was 70% on target.
Unfortunately, I haven't done much training over the past few months. Although I did do a handful of 100km fasted rides and felt great.
So, the race plan for tomorrow:
I'm doing the Abu Dhabi Short: 1.5km swim, 100 bike, 10km run.
Race conditions expected:
- Looks like the water warmed up quickly and it's likely to be a non-wetsuit swim
- Expecting high temperatures (high 20s going to 30s) and some humidity (my archenemy)
- Expecting some stiff winds if we're lucky, and a "shamal" carrying sand and gusting if we're not.
- Pre-race breakfast: bulletproof coffee and 3g amino acids
- Swim: steady pace (I've hardly swum in recent months so I'll take whatever time I get)
- Bike: steady in upper zone 2 (around 145bpm heart rate) to stay in fat burning mode
- Bike nutrition: only water
- Run: also stay in zone 2 and take on only water.
So essentially I'm doing the entire race in a fasted state with 0 calories.
There can be 2 possible outcomes:
- I'm fat adapted well enough to burn fat and get through the race reasonably comfortably; or
- I'm not fat adapted enough and you'll have to peel me off the side of the road with a shovel!