What is fat oxidation and why have some triathletes adopted a ketogenic nutritional approach? On this episode, nutritional expert Dr. Krista Austin overviews high fat, low carb diets. Are there performance benefits from minimizing your dependency on carbohydrates? Can increasing your fat intake help you avoid the bonk on race day? Listen in as Dr. Austin outlines how you can evaluate if an HFLC approach is right for you.
TriDot Podcast .64:
High Fat, Low Carb Nutrition for Triathletes
Intro: This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We’ll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let’s improve together.
Andrew Harley: Hey, folks. Welcome to another nutrition packed episode of the TriDot podcast. Today we are going to be talking about high fat and low carb nutrition plans, diets, strategies...whatever word you want to use. I know Keto is a popular term and high-fat, low-carb. There’s so many ways to approach your diet and your nutrition. We are going to talk through how to be an athlete on a high-fat, low-carb diet. Our key guide for this talk is our resident nutritional expert, Dr. Krista Austin. Krista is an exercise physiologist and nutritionist who consulted with the US Olympic Committee and the English Institute of Sport. She has a PhD in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition.A Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Krista, thanks for coming back on to talk about high-fat, low-carb diets.
Dr. Krista Austin: Hey! Glad to be back with you, Andrew, and Elizabeth, too. How’s it going today for ya?
Andrew: It is going great. I was tempted, Dr. Austin. I have a t-shirt that says, “I love carbs,” and I was tempted to wear it.
Elizabeth: You should have!
Andrew: I do. I love my carbs. But I’m here to learn about high-fat, low-carb diets. I didn’t want to come in with that attitude of, “I’m just gonna sit in the corner with my carbs.”
Elizabeth: Open-minded. I like that.
Andrew: I’m here, open-minded, and ready to learn. Also joining us is Elizabeth James. Elizabeth came to the sport from a soccer background and quickly rose through the triathlon ranks using TriDot. From a beginner to top age grouper to a professional triathlete. She’s a Kona and Boston Marathon qualifier who has coached triathletes with TriDot since 2014. Elizabeth, thanks for coming on and learning alongside of me.
Elizabeth: For sure. It is always great to be here. I’m excited about it.
Andrew: I am Andrew the average triathlete, voice of the people, and captain of the middle of the pack. As always we’ll roll through our warm up question and settle in for our Keto main set conversation. Then we’ll wrap up with today’s cool-down. Lots of good stuff. Let’s get to it.
Warm up theme: Time to warm up! Let’s get moving.
Andrew: Food, drinks, and nutrition products can come in a variety of flavors. Some, like a fruit-flavored sparkling water or a bbq flavored bag of chips just make a ton of sense. But others, like a ranch dressing flavored soda or wasabi flavored Kit-Kat bar just feel very, very wrong. Dr. Austin, Elizabeth, what is an example of a flavor product combination that many people probably like, but just leaves you scratching your head and saying, “Absolutely not.” Elizabeth, I’ll start with you.
Elizabeth: So...okay. Funny thing. I just saw a news report about weird Kit-Kat flavors while lifting at the gym last week.
Andrew: Why are you reading about Kit-Kats at the gym? You a little hungry?
Elizabeth: It was on tv! Like a news report. They were doing...I don’t know, some special about this.
Andrew: So you weren’t planning your post-workout snack at the gym, looking at Kit-Kat ads?
Elizabeth: No comment, right? Until recently I had no idea that Kit-Kat translates into this Japanese expression meaning good luck and that there’s so many of these unique flavors. I really thought Kit-Kat was your typical chocolate bar. But gosh, they’ve got some interesting ones. They were showing soybean powder Kit-Kats and baked potato Kit-Kats. That was weird. But since you’ve mentioned that, I was trying to think of something else. I don’t know that this is one that many people would like, but what came to mind was sweet corn ice cream.
Elizabeth: I...I’m having a hard time with that one. Charles and I are both suckers for sweets. Particularly ice cream. When we travel we’ve been known to check out a local ice cream shop.
Andrew: Yeah, you’ve got to.
Elizabeth: Exactly. Especially when we’re traveling for races. Post-race, looking for that little treat. We’ve certainly seen some unique flavors. Most of the time, even if it may not be our particular choice, the flavors seem to make sense. But sweet corn ice cream still has me stumped. Even growing up in the midwest, I know that sweet corn is a midwest love. I, too, enjoy corn on the cob. But to have that as an ice cream flavor seems--as you put it, Andrew--so very wrong.
Andrew: Dr. Austin, any thoughts on sweet corn ice cream?
Dr. Austin: I’m still taking it in right now. I’m in shock. I’m thinking about the corn on the cob and the ice cream.
Andrew: It’s not making it mesh. So, Dr. Austin, for you, what is another one since Elizabeth has both of us scratching our heads at sweet corn ice cream. What’s one for you that confuses you that people could actually enjoy it?
Dr. Austin: I don’t know that I’ve ever really focused in on it, per se. I just end up going to the grocery store. I’ll be in a 7-11 or gas station type store and I’ll see some really unique flavors, and I just kind of...it hits me at the moment. How could that possibly be? I don’t know. I just look at it. I guess I’m really traditional and can’t wrap my head around it, so I keep going. But at the same time people might say, “You like a lot of traditional flavors like hazelnut or peppermint mocha and you’ll put that in your coffee or what have you. In some cultures that seems a little odd and off.”
Andrew: That’s true.
Dr. Austin: I just sit back and say they think that’s odd for what we do so if I sit there and look at what they do, they may say that’s pretty odd. I think that comes sometimes from traveling to other countries and seeing how they cook their food or what they eat. What’s their main course. You realize that you’re thinking of everything in your own perspective. You’ve got to sometimes be a bit open-minded and give something a try and just see if it’s something that will work for you. But I would say on the whole I just keep blowing past it in the grocery store and just look at it and keep going.
Andrew: Even in the ridiculous form of a question, Dr. Austin is nutritionally coaching us and giving us some wisdom. I love that perspective.
Dr. Austin: Just keep moving, kids.
Andrew: Keep moving down the grocery aisle to the items that you do enjoy and let people enjoy their sweet corn ice cream that we think is weird. The one I’m going to say...I’m going to ruffle some feathers here because I know this is beloved for a lot of folks. This is actually a little bit...I think to a few episodes back when we had Dr. Austin with us, we were talking about seasonal flavors. A really popular seasonal flavor is pumpkin spice. I am absolutely not a pumpkin spice guy. I can’t do it. I don’t really like pumpkin anything, to be honest. I know a lot of people that’s a beloved thing at certain times of year. Listen, if someone likes that and they want to have a pumpkin spice latte, there’s certain applications of pumpkin spice that make sense to me. Pumpkin bread makes sense to me that someone would like. I don’t like it. But I feel like the pumpkin spice thing--and this is why I choose this one--it’s just gone too far. I saw in the grocery store the other day pumpkin spice bubble gum. That’s just one example of a multitude of things that now have a pumpkin spice variety that shouldn’t. If you are buying pumpkin spice bubble gum and chewing that just to have pumpkin spice in your mouth for an hour, I’m sorry. I’m not with you. I’m against you. I’m confused. I’m scratching my head at that one. Guys, we’re going to throw this out to you guys on all our social media accounts. Follow us on Instagram. Join our I Am Tridot Facebook group. We’re going to throw it out to you. What is a flavor you’ve seen on the shelf and leaves you scratching your head and wondering who in the world actually likes this flavor? I trust there’s some great answers out there and we can’t wait to see them and also scratching our heads at them.
Main set theme: On to the main set. Going in 3…2…1…
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Andrew: So there’s a lot of discussion, Dr. Austin, around high-fat diets and sport. It seems to have created quite a debate in the sport nutrition community. What exactly is a high-fat diet and which of the popular nutrition plans fall underneath this umbrella?
Dr. Austin: The popular nutrition plans may be the original ketogenic diet where they used a four to one fat to carb protein combination. But then there are others like Atkins or any type of low-glycemic, low-carb modification that’s out there where they try to limit the amount of carbohydrates that they are taking in in order to help facilitate the individual’s end goal. The most common reference that I see these days out of the clients or people that I engage with that have an interest in ketogenic diets is that they will turn around and reference it as something that is 25 to 50 grams of carbohydrate per day and they’ll compare it as net versus total carbs. Interestingly enough, when you take a loo at their nutrition plan, they’ve actually modified the original Keto diet and put in a good bit more protein. So it’s not a situation where you’re at that classic four to one, but rather they’ve modified it through the use of things like MCT oil so they can increase the protein content and still stay in a pretty deep level of ketosis. If you take a look at the curve of ketosis that can be brought about by different types of carbohydrate restriction. The curve is actually very much bell-shaped. The extent to which fats and proteins and carbohydrate are manipulated is what determines where you’re going to fall on that curve, including your total caloric intake. One of the things that people do think sometimes when they’re on a diet that is a bit higher in protein in relation to their fat content and carb content is that they’re in ketosis. In all reality, when I look at it I say no, you’re in energy restriction. The amount of fat you have is about equivocal to your protein and you’ve got enough carbohydrate that you’re barely in ketosis and that’s more so from caloric restriction. So it’s interesting when people turn around and say Keto. The question is what do they really mean? Is it the classic form that really defined it back when they developed it for medical purposes?
Andrew: When athletes talk about being in ketosis, can you break down for us what exactly that means?
Dr. Austin: When an athlete says I’ve gone into ketosis, it really means that they’re working to produce a certain amount of ketones within the body. They’re trying to create a metabolic state where you have these elevated levels of ketones. That’s where today you see something like ketone esters where they want the ketones to help them feel better. It might help them from a cognitive perspective. So you’ll see the ketone esters out there for people who can’t naturally get into deep ketosis. But really it’s a very normal response to low glucose availability. We see increased ketone production even after exercise, in which they do not give themselves carbohydrate just because you are tapping into the glucose that’s in the blood stream and you might experience bouts of lower levels of glucose. What it means is that you’re producing something that the body can use as an alternative energy source. Especially the brain, in an of itself, seems to benefit from that. It’s really the origin of what the athlete’s pursued it for just because they turn around and they say I want to feel better and because they want to feel better they turn around and say I think ketosis is something that’s going to benefit me--whether it’s in training or prolonged bouts or feeling better on a day to day basis.
Andrew: I first became aware of the term “keto” just a few years ago. I know it’s been a thing longer than that. There’s a television network I was working at as a producer and several of the staff, several of the on-air talent, executive producers all of a sudden were all about Keto diets and we were having guests come through the television station to talk about Keto diets on air. You’re seeing more and more books on the store bookshelves talking about and coaching people and offering recipes for Keto. It’s become this buzz word that I’ve seen around. I would walk into work on casual Fridays with my “I Love Carbs” t-shirt on to ruffle some feathers, just for funsies. Looking back, what are the origins of the ketogenic diet?
Dr. Austin: The ketogenic diet was originally established to address diseases that have metabolic disregulation such as epilepsy where they had treatment resistant seizures, cancer, Alzheimers, and even obesity. Essentially, you’ve got to remember it’s carbohydrate deprivation that results in the ketone production as the body drives energy from fat. Those ketones are actually helping to create a different metabolic environment, which was very beneficial they found to certain diseases states. So that’s where it started. That was its origins. But then as it grew and became more well-known, there were different populations that started tapping into that, including sport.
Elizabeth: How did that diet that was designed for curing disease transition into sport?
Dr. Austin: Originally it became more popular in populations like body builders, fitness athletes, weight lifters. As it became popular, researchers started to notice. They started to pay more attention to it. They began taking a look at how it might impact something such as endurance performance. At the end of the day, it was through different cultures that are out there in these sport and physique realm--which is where I would put body builders and fitness professionals--that it became popular for the everyday person. In the bodybuilding and weight modification world, it was really used to cut people up and make sustained weight loss very doable and get them ready for competitions. It’s just over time that people pick up on these populations that have occurred and they say let’s study them. Let’s understand whether or not there’s a significant benefit to people who are not in a state of disease.
Elizabeth: You mentioned endurance athletes there as picking this up. What in particular is it that would draw a triathlete to a high-fat diet?
Dr. Austin: I think a lot of the draw for the endurance athletes...it came from the research population. We sat there and said if we manipulate the macronutrients and put people into ketosis, we can see these significant improvements in fat oxidation. At that point in time, they said this is really going to help minimize the need for carbohydrate and delay fatigue in an endurance athlete so that they can hopefully not bonk during competition. That was the initial thought around it. If you could spare muscle glycogen stores that you might be able to go in and enhance performance. Over the years what they’ve shown is that performance isn’t necessarily indicative of fat oxidation levels. The speed and power held during a triathlon is not directly related to that. What’s interesting is that while we’ve done all of this, what we have found is that there is a very individual response to the different techniques that consist of something that is high-fat or ketogenic in nature being implemented into an athlete’s diet. I guess what I mean by that is some have taken the full concept on board, in which they go into ketosis and live in that state and believe it’s very beneficial to their training and even their health--the way they feel, their ability to recover and not be so fatigued when they’re training and competing. Versus others that take the opposite and work on fat oxidation in training and use a high-fat approach prior to training to help facilitate some of those adaptations.
Andrew: So, in my limited understanding of keto coming into this conversation--I’ve already learned a lot--but coming in I’ve heard of a lot of athletes that use this that follow a keto plan, that believe in it. That is their pitch is that the body can only hold so many grams of carbs at a time in our fuel reserves. On race day--particularly long course race day--you’re going to burn through that without replenishing. I’ve heard the notion that if you’re in ketosis--if you’re in a low-carb, high-fat athlete--your body gets used to burning fat and using the fat stores, which are much larger than our carbohydrate stores as you’re on course energy. So it builds this notion that you can almost truly avoid the bonk with a high-fat diet. Is that a myth or is there truth to that?
Dr. Austin: What I would tell you is that everybody is an individual. When you’re looking at sports, especially like long-course triathlon, avoiding the bonk comes down to still optimizing your fueling strategy and the way that you optimize your training. However, for those that do struggle with what feels like bonking or struggle to take in nutrition, the high-fat diet approach seems to help them a good bit. But what you’ll find when you work with them is they can actually take in...if you manipulate the carbohydrates correctly during the race... a good bit of carbohydrate. But they don’t have to take in as much as they used to. Really it’s because once they are in ketosis and they take in carbohydrate while they’re training, while they’re competing, it’s like all of a sudden you’re tossing gas onto an open fire. What happens when you do that--whoosh! There’s this huge fire that gets lit up. Really, that’s what’s happening within their bodies. They’re able to oxidize carbohydrate that much better. All of a sudden, instead of having all this GI distress at 60 grams of carbohydrates an hour, they’ll have none at all. Really, it’s just about the ability to burn off the carbohydrate they’re taking in. I’ll use a lot of high molecular weight carbohydrates with my individuals who have the GI distress or they’ve hit the bonk if they are on these high-fat diets. What you notice is that it comes down to optimization of understanding how they need to fuel nutritionally for the majority of the time and then what actually happens on race day. How do we blend that ideally for them in order to get them where they’re trying to go?
Elizabeth: I’m so glad, too, that you brought up the use of carbohydrates for athletes that might be following more of a high-fat, low-carb diet in a race setting because I think that might be a common myth for some athletes. They think I’m high-fat, low-carb so I’m not going to necessarily need to take in carbs on race day. I love the analogy you gave that now you just have the opportunity, you have the open fire and you’re pouring the gasoline onto it and the body is able to really utilize carbohydrates in a different way than it was before with this nutritional approach.
Dr. Austin: They really will go in and oxidize the carbohydrate that much better. Even the low glycemic carbohydrates will have a higher oxidation rate in someone like that. Of course the high glycemic ones will, as well. Even then, they might respond more so better to the use of carbohydrate the night before a race. Or a meal before key workouts. Or even restoring carbohydrate content prior to racing. There’s protocols like that out there that we develop for athletes because they do seem to feel a little bit better and it doesn’t seem to all of a sudden, if it’s short enough of a protocol, to mitigate the alterations that they develop through the high-fat diet. So there’s a lot of different interesting combinations and ways to go about utilizing the concepts from the ketogenic world or the high-fat, low-carb world to help you as you work toward optimizing fueling for race day. Or optimizing training.
Andrew: All that is definitely giving me a much more nuanced understanding of the benefits of keto--high-fat diets for the athlete. What are some of the cautions that an athlete should know if they’re trying to use a ketogenic diet?
Dr. Austin: The first one that I always make them aware of is the potential for low-energy availability. Mainly because it’s very satietous. So when you take in all that fat, your hunger signals are going to be shut down a good bit. So often times we see low-energy availability occur in those athletes where they’re not taking in enough just because they’re not hungry. So they stop fueling and they just cannot get it in. The other thing that we can see happen is an impact on their actual endocrine system. So when you put your body into ketosis (and I’ve seen this quite a bit) you can actually alter whether or not the sex steroids and so on is made. So it’ll end up as a male with low testosterone. Or I’ll have a female show up and say, “All of a sudden I lost my menstrual cycle. Why is this occurring?” You no longer have the appropriate signal to fuel your body enough to maintain energy availability. But also you can induce a little bit of hypothyroidism. You can induce a little bit of your pituitary, which usually signals your sex organs to produce your sex steroids. That’s going to go into this whole pathway and possibly get inhibited. So what I teach athletes is to typically let their doctor know that they’re wanting to try this because they’re trying it for a non-medical reason and ask their doctor to work with them to monitor the effects on their endocrine system and on their hormonal system. For some people it will work just fine. They won’t see any change. However, in others they will see change. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that some are training that much harder than the others. There are certain populations that we have to acknowledge where these high-fat, low-carb diets do help to actually improve sex steroid production. So like in obesity, which is one of the areas it comes from...originally from a disease perspective, it will actually do just the opposite because it’s helping to facilitate weight loss that’s been inhibiting their natural production of sex steroids. So it’s really all about taking a look at the person on the whole and saying, “Is there any potential that something might...something that we weren’t anticipating may happen that we don’t want to?” The other thing is monitoring the effects of it on things such as cholesterol and triglycerides and also bone density. The bone density can become impacted if sex steroid production is impaired. In fact, we can see things like stress fractures arise and all of a sudden they’re put out of competition for at least a couple months, if not much longer throughout the year. The other thing I ask athletes to monitor is their ability to do upper end HIIT type work (High Intensity Interval Training) because for some it compromises this and they actually need it. And then sleep. Does it disturb this? For some people, ketogenic high-fat diets will disturb sleep. If you can’t sleep, you don’t recover. You don’t adapt and then move forward in training. We’ve got to be cognizant of what might happen when we try different types of nutritional plans. That way they may see, “You know what? I can’t do a full-blown ketogenic diet, but let’s go ahead and work toward one of the modification versions.” I think that’s what you see most commonly in athletes when things like this are taken into consideration.
Elizabeth: You mentioned some modifications. What might be an alternative approach to improving fat oxidation if an athlete doesn’t want to try a high-fat diet or maybe was experiencing some of those symptoms and needs a different approach?
Dr. Austin: The biggest thing I try to work on with athletes is the concept of nutrient timing to help them consume enough calories before their session, but to also choose macronutrients that will give them the effects that they’re looking for. A long time ago a researcher by the name of Mindy Millard-Stafford did a very key piece where she took a look at the consumption of fat, of different protein sources. So, like casein. I believe it was a pure whey isolate. And carbohydrate. What she showed was the influence of these macronutrients on fat oxidation. What I’ll turn around to people is say, “Look, what is your goal with your session? Could we manipulate acutely what you’re going to consume prior to the training session to help facilitate some of the effects that you’re hoping for?” That’s where we turn around and say let’s make some example meals that can help you do this. The other day I had an athlete that before her long run she had some eggs with spinach. They may or may not include some light fruit or something like that. But definitely eggs with spinach is going to keep them low enough carbohydrate content that they’ll get the fat oxidation that they’re hoping for. I’ve had athletes use mackerel with olive oil before. Very long, slow Ironman sessions. There are others that say, “Dr. Austin, I want the bacon and sausage.” At the end of the day it’s typically something that they know will get them through the session. They’re not going to compromise themselves. But it does help them learn to function without carbohydrates. The other approach is gradual titration of the amount of carbohydrates used in specific training sessions. So sometimes I’ll have athletes show up and they’re just pumping a good bit of carbs at a level that I’m like you know what? For as hard as you’re going, you need all of that. You actually need to learn to function without some of it. So we’ll say if you’re taking in one to one and a half to slowly baking off to taking half a gram a minute and see if their body over time adapts. Give more energy to take up front with some eggs and spinach and sausage, depending on who they are. So teaching them the difference between calorie intake and carbohydrate intake and the effects on their training and maybe even performance.
Andrew: So all this is quality information we’ve learned. I’ve learned as much today as I have with any other podcast we’ve recorded. How can an athlete who has maybe dabbled in this already or who hasn’t, but is interested. How should an athlete evaluate whether a high-fat diet is right for them?
Dr. Austin: The first thing that I always tell people is to put your health first. Identify the health metrics that you need to monitor and make sure that you’re not compromising your health. Secondly is the performance metric. Sit down with your coach and say, “Hey, look. How do we know this is the right call for me? How do we know that I’m doing the right thing?” Third is the impact on their lifestyle factors. Is it causing them any undue stress? Is it harming their social interactions? Is it harming their sleep? Look at those things and say, “Is this right for me?”
Elizabeth: So in addition to that, are there other things an athlete should know prior to using a high-fat diet?
Dr. Austin: The biggest thing I try to touch on with them is what people like to call the keto flu. That’s because when you start putting your body on a ketogenic diet and go into ketosis, you really will start to lose a lot of the water and electrolytes that you naturally hold on to with your carbohydrate stores. So the thing I talk to them about is the need for proper hydration, especially the electrolytes. That’s why you’ll see some of these electrolyte based products out there that they say we’re keto friendly. They don’t have the carbs in them, but they’ve got all the electrolytes and they’ll help alleviate things such as headaches that can come from straight out dehydration that would eventually hurt their ketogenesis. When we first start a high-fat diet, a lot of the weight that you see come off is due to glycogen depletion, the removal of water from the body, and electrolytes. The other thing that they need to know is that they may need some dietary supplementation. This could be for a variety of reasons that might be to help balance out how they create their fat. So using MCT oil might be to help counter some of the higher changes that occur in cholesterol and what have you due to consuming a high-fat diet. They might have to take in some psyllium husk or flaxseed, things of that nature, to help take a look at it. Or even if they go in they pop all their information in Cronometer and take a look at their micronutrients and say oh boy, I’m missing some things. I may have to take a multivitamin and mineral to insure that I don’t lose some of my micronutrients on a day to day basis or that I’m meeting those minimum requirements. So sometimes we have to take a look at those things. But on the whole I think athletes can be pretty smart about those two areas and fulfill them relatively easily if they’ve sat down and thought through everything.
Andrew: As we land the plane on our keto high-fat conversation, for folks out there who might be curious, are there any other ways to produce ketones in our body or to get ourselves into a ketosis state without necessarily being a high-fat diet athlete?
Dr. Austin: Ketones, first and foremost, are known for being produces when people are fasting. So intermittent fasting is something that’s become popular with people. Part of the reason they might feel a little bit better throughout the day when they are fasting because of the ketone production. We also get ketones produced when we do exercise training without carbohydrate supplementation. At the end of the day what athletes need to remember is that all of those approaches may lead to low energy. Low energy nutrition is not always the best thing for an athlete. You need to recognize the difference between low energy nutrition plans and ketosis. What is really in your best interest as an athlete? Then of course there’s the current nutrition products that are out there called ketone esters. Those can help put you into ketosis, but not require you to take out all the carbohydrates from the diet that you might need to go to that state of ketosis, otherwise. So there’s a variety of different ways to produce ketones. The question is just what’s in your best interest? I would tell people the low-energy nutrition plans are definitely not one of the ways that you want to do that.
Cool down theme: Great set everyone! Let’s cool down.
Andrew: So at the time this podcast first airs, we are just a few weeks past the 2020 Challenge Daytona race in Daytona Beach, Florida. Being one of the few major races to actually happen in late 2020, and with the enormous amount of press and tv coverage generated by the professional race, a lot of triathletes had their eyes on Daytona for this event. Coach John Mayfield and I decided to travel to Daytona and race the 70.3. I’ve got to tell you, this race did not disappoint. The race day weather was absolutely perfect. Riding and running on Daytona Motor Speedway was awesome. Seeing so many folks in TriDot kits, hats, and visors all weekend long was the cherry on top. It really was a great event. We met a lot of TriDoters out there. John and I, one of these days on an upcoming podcast will likely talk a little bit more about our own races. But today I wanted you all to hear from a TriDot athlete who had a major breakthrough in her race in Daytona. John and I met Tammy Dotson in the athlete Village the day before the race. As excited as I was for my own 70.3 PR, I was maybe even more excited for Tammy’s result. In fact, the first thing that John and I did once we had finished...we got back to the truck, got our bags, and a change of clothes...the first thing John did was open up his cell phone, punch Tammy’s name into the race tracker and check on how she’s doing and where she was on course. We were absolutely thrilled when she crossed the finish line. So here is Tammy to talk about her 2020 season and why conquering Challenge Daytona meant so much to her.
Tammy Dotson: Hi. I’m Tammy from the Tampa Bay area. I know you can relate to me when I talk about I am still riding the high of my first 70.3 completion! Oh my gosh, Challenge Daytona was an awesome, awesome, awesome experience. This was not my first attempt at a 70.3. My first attempt was Ironman Gulf Coast last year. Needless to say...yeah. I was underprepared. Not well prepared. The swim has always been my weakest area. With the water conditions and the Gulf Coast and everything...yeah...needless to say, I DNF’d that race. But I was not going to give up. I still had a goal of wanting to complete a 70.3. So what do I do? I registered for IM Augusta this year. We all know how that turned out. So I didn’t get to do that. I was quite okay with maybe not completing the goal for this year, especially with everything that had transpired. We all know that 2020 has been a rough year on a lot of folks. Everybody has their challenges and obstacles to work through. For me, it’s been quite a bit of medical issues. I’ve had several surgeries that had taken me out of the game for quite some time. Major abdominal surgery. Then I had an awake craniotomy that set me back for some training for quite some time. One of the things that I love about TriDot is whenever we’ve missed months and months of training, I think we’re wired to believe that we have to catch up or make up training. Surprisingly, I was able to jump right back in with the optimized training, it met me where I was. So I didn’t have to go back and make up those months of training that I missed. I jumped in and literally picked up training with where I was and my abilities at the time. That was seriously amazing. From the surgery...or surgeries, actually...there were some unintended side effects that interfered with daily activities and training. One of those was migraines. I’ve always been a migraine sufferer. But now the triggers are more. I’m pretty much suffering a migraine every day. To all of my migraine sufferers, you know how that feels. In addition, I have this new thing called motion sickness. Yes! So riding in a car, riding a bike, running, pretty much anything where there’s other stimuli sets it off. So trying to work through those challenges when it comes to swimming, biking, running, was an interesting experience. I was okay with not doing a 70.3 this year. But I had some wonderful, wonderful triathlete friends in the local area who talked about this Challenge Daytona and that they were going to do this race so they could still have a race before the end of the year. One thing about us as athletes is we have this thing called FOMO--Fear Of Missing Out. When everybody is talking about a race and Andrew and the gang and everybody on TriDot kept talking about Challenge Daytona, Challenge Daytona…I was like you know what? I cannot miss out on this. So I finally put it on the calendar and it was time to get busy training for it. Let me tell you about this Challenge Daytona and my race day experience. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I really got serious about Challenge Daytona, probably late October. When I decided, you know what? I’m definitely going to do this. I showed up on race day confident, feeling like I could do the best to my ability. I was ready to do this. I was excited! I was excited. My RaceX projection for the swim had me at 1:01. I finished the swim in 57 minutes! That was huge for me because remember, I told you the swim has always been my biggest, biggest, biggest challenge. To know that I wasn’t the last person out of the water..I’m telling you, I don’t care how the rest of the race went. The fact that I got past the swim in better than expected time was enough for me. So, yes, I was riding that high. Going into the bike...again, previous race execution, I was close to 4 hours on the bike and that was including several falls. Because, remember, I’m still dealing with this whole balance issue. Race day at Daytona: 3 hours and 30 minutes. That was with only one fall and one bathroom break. So, again, huge, huge, huge accomplishment. Now the run is where I knew I was going to struggle just because even in training I had never really been able to get past 6 miles without my body breaking down and shutting down. I knew if I could get to the run I had a strategy where I could get through it. Whether it was going at my zone 2 pace for as much as I could and then walking when I needed to. And so utilizing that strategy, I came in at 7 hours and 55 minutes. For those that are the super, super pros and super fast. That probably is like what? 07:55? But I tell you what...that was the an amazing, amazing accomplishment. So I am just over the moon right now with being able to actually complete a goal that I had set. The team at TriDot, my local triathlon folks...Everybody is placed in your life for a reason at a specific time. How ironic...I’ve ran into somebody at the Great Floridian because I used that as a practice race before I did the Challenge Daytona. How ironic that the same person that I was racked with...I then turned around and she was in line with me, behind me at the Challenge Daytona. To me, Andrew and John and all of the folks from TriDot, the community, the tri community is just amazing, amazing, amazing. So if I can just give any words of encouragement, it would be trust the process. Trust the process. Have a plan. Push where you can. Use wisdom. Have fun. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Thank you.
Andrew: Well, that’s it for today, folks. I want to thank Dr. Krista Austin and pro triathlete Elizabeth James for talking about high-fat diets with us today. A big thanks to Tammy for letting us celebrate her 70.3 finish with her. And shout out to UCAN for partnering with us on today’s episode. Head to UCAN.com and use promo code TriDot the next time you load up on their super starch products. Do you have a question for the team or race day story to share on the podcast? Head to TriDot.com/podcast and click on “Leave Us a Voicemail” to get your voice on the show. We’ll do it all again soon. Until then, happy training.
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