by Rachel McBride and Casey Weaver
Ed. Note—Rachel McBride, the Purple Tiger, is always there when you need an intriguing story. The "most interesting woman in triathlon" helps us out this week with a story about fixing her GI issues on the run, a malady that afflicts many triathletes and runners. We also talk to Casey Weaver, founder of Field Work Nutrition Company, who developed the product that McBride used to great effect during her fourth-place finish at Ironman South Africa last month.
For the entirety of my running career I’ve struggled with runner’s diarrhea. This means for many of my races and the majority of my training runs, I’m usually jumping into the porta-potty at least once. Initially I just sucked it up and figured it was part of me and racing. In 2012, however, racing the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon a porta-potty stop forced me to lose a place and a significant decrease in prize money; I jokingly called it my “$2000 poop.” It was time to really try and figure this sh#t out (pun totally intended).
I enlisted the help of dietician-to-the-stars Dana Lis of Summit Sport Nutrition. Dana is an experienced bike racer with expert knowledge through her graduate research as well as work with several Olympic teams. She had me cut out any kind of potential irritants by going on a low FODMAPs diet in order to decrease the chance of GI issues in my running.
What the heck is FODMAPs, you say? FODMAPs are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. These include fructose, fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides, lactose and polyols (like sorbitol and mannitol). It’s basically a long list of all the tastiest fruits, vegetables, gluten and dairy products. Who wants to cut things like mango and avocado out of their diet?! It was rough to say the least, however I was able to identify and now avoid some specific foods that are particularly irritating. At this point, I use the low FODMAP approach only in the 2-3 days leading up to a race, along with a low fibre, low residue diet.
Although I’ve been able to decrease some symptoms, it’s still not nearly solved to the point that I am really happy with in races. The next step was to start a liquid-only diet. With the help of Field Work Nutrition Primo Smoothie Mix, I now had a high quality product that was perfect for pre-race and pre-run nutrition. I initially tested it out prior to a 14km trail race last summer. Not only did have zero GI issues during my first ever trail race, but I also set a course record!
It’s taken some experimenting and rough starts to get it going for Ironman racing (Cozumel was a giant nutrition mistake for several reasons I won’t get into). I had a big breakthrough a few weeks ago at Ironman South Africa where I raced my fastest Ironman and marathon yet! My pre-race nutrition included a 100% Fieldwork Primo Mix, low FODMAPs, low fibre smoothie routine from 3pm the day before the race. Although I still had a small amount of GI issues during the race, I feel like this was big step in the right direction.
Casey Weaver from Field Work Nutrition
The idea for Field Work Nutrition was really the culmination of a lifetime of being an athlete and years and years of being frustrated with the nutrition products that were on the market. Prior to starting Field Work Nutrition, I was working in a corporate role developing and marketing sub-par products that I didn’t fully believe in and didn’t speak to my values as an athlete or person.
I felt like there was a big gap in the market for a product that fit my food values: made of whole food, clean ingredients, but still based on sports science and designed for real athletes. Not to mention, I didn’t feel like any nutrition brands really spoke to my lifestyle: I was never concerned with “getting ripped” in the gym, but rather was looking to fuel awesome activities outdoors, mostly endurance and action sports. I always used supplements and nutrition products due to their convenience and effectiveness, but wanted something I felt was right for me and all the real athletes I know.
One day I was actually sharing some of my thoughts with Wattie, a long time friend, and he insisted I connect with Jesse Kropelnicki, who had helped Heather dial-in her Ironman fueling. Jesse and I met and the rest, as they say, is history. We developed our Primo Smoothie to be a functional food for everyday use by real athletes and active people. Triathletes are all strapped for time and thus seeking convenience. Triathletes need high-quality nutrition while training, but also throughout the day to help with continued recovery, and to be well-fueled and ready for the inevitable next session. Our Primo Smoothie is specifically designed with ingredients in the right amounts for endurance athletes (and anyone living an active life), and is perfect for a convenient meal-smoothie, pre-workout nutrition as Rachel (and many others) uses it, or even post-workout recovery smoothie. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of smoothies!
Rachel's Pre-race, Pre-train Fieldwork Smoothie
2 scoops Fieldwork Primo Smoothie mix
1 not-so-ripe banana
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
1.5-2 cups fresh cut papaya
1-1.5 cups almond milk
1 cup water
0.5 cups frozen raspberries (only the day before, not morning of, due to high fibre content)