I’ve previously said that I don’t believe in coaches to help with training for the events, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in taking a bit of help – what I don’t want is someone else making my training decisions.

So, as part of the plan towards Windermere 2014 I’m going to seek the right help where I can find it – and I’ve started with supplements.

SIS 3One of the things I didn’t do well last time I swam Windermere was “feed” properly during the swim. I didn’t take on enough fluid and didn’t take on board enough nutrients. The main reason for that was that I hadn’t done it as part of my training, so I didn’t know what to take or how much or how often … or anything. If I can get my nutrition better then I’m sure that I can improve my time.

However, I need to work out which supplements are best for my body and help me the most, so for the next few weeks / months I’m going to do some trial and error.

As you can see I’m starting with SIS GO Energy powders. You mix each sachet with 500ml of water and it then provides extra carbohydrates for you as you’re working out. Or, as they say:

“SIS delivers superior nutrition so you can train harder, race faster and recover quicker.”

Today’s workout was the first time I tried one and I tried the Blackcurrant flavoured powder. With any test like this it’s hard to tell how much it helped (or even if it did at all) as there is no way of comparing to today’s workout without taking any supplements. My view on this is you have to just believe that supplements will help (which I do) then trust in that and work out which ones you feel most comfortable taking.

According to that reasoning today went well. The flavour of the drink is okay – a bit sweeter than I would normally have for a drink, but then it’s not a normal drink – and it seemed to be east enough to digest and didn’t affect my stomach while I was training. So, so far so good.

I’m going to try the orange ones as well and then will assess some other brands and some others types of supplement. As well as the energy ones I want ones which provide a bit more fuel – if I’m going to be in the water for just under 7 hours I’ll need to “eat” as well as “drink”. But for now I’ll call that a success.



Filed under Swimming, Thoughts

6 responses to “Supplements

  1. Mike Stead

    Hi Patrick

    Given the length of swim, I’d think you should understand your carbohydrate burn rate and sweat rate. You definitely need to be putting stuff back in, and timing it right, in the right amounts, will make a huge difference to how you feel & finish when doing anything longer than 2hrs. Shorter than 2hrs, your body uses what’s in your bloodstream/muscles anyway, so eating is not really of benefit (although plenty of people eat after even 30 minutes, or are sucking on sweet carbo drinks from the go – more a placebo effect than anything I imagine).

    You should weigh yourself dry using some accurate scales before and after a 1hr session at your race pace, deduct any drinks you had (try not to do a wee) and that should give you your sweat rate. I know mine is anywhere up to 800ml an hr in 18deg on the bike. If you drop more than 2% accepted wisdom is you start to suffer. Some people sweat loads more than others, and some have a hard time drinking enough to keep up. You won’t know until you actually run the tests.

    What you must do is ensure you keep a balance in your electrolytes, otherwise you risk all sorts of bad stuff – un-coordination, nausea, vomiting etc etc. It’s not critical that your drink be an energy one – I use a non-energy electrolyte-only tablet called NUUN – they work well for me purely as an electrolyte replacement. They also get used in some hospitals for rehydrating people.

    Food is far more about personal preference IMHO – and £2-a-go bars or squeezies are not the answer. A banana has as much energy as a gel, has potassium too, and comes in an eco-friendly wrapper :-). Peanut butter sandwiches, fig rolls, malt loaf, Haribo…the list goes on of food people swear by. What you feel like eating at the 1hr mark is probably going to be very different to nearing the end. After an 8hr adventure race I’m lucky to be able to eat anything – I physically find it hard to consume enough calories to keep going at the same pace. This is something I need to work on – more cake nurse! 😉

  2. Sean O'Mahony

    Hey Patrick… A coach might have told you to do this 😉

    What you’re talking about here is a nutritional strategy. In that sense these aren’t ‘supplements’ they are primary nutritional sources for your endurance event.

    As Mike says, it could be a banana or a gel, but if you’re doing something for 7+ hours you’ll need nutrition, lots of nutrition, otherwise you’re going to ‘bonk’.

    Also, as Mike points out, you need to understand your burn rate. I’m guessing yours is somewhere in the region of >1,000 calories an hour while swimming. You’ll need to define that more accurately — get yourself a Garmin Swim (

    The average person can process about 400 calories an hour while exercising (you might be >500 or <300, you need to work that out too). So you need to calculate your total burn for your event and then see how much additional nutrition you will need per hour to complete while at the same time understanding that you cannot consume too much without risking gastric distress.

    This will affect how you train for the event.

    However, part of your nutrition strategy will involve you begin feeding within 30 minutes and then at set intervals throughout your event you continue feeding.

    You don't have to 'just believe' that supplements will work. There's a whole body of scientific research that supports the fact that they do. What you have to do is work out how much you burn and how much you can replace.

  3. Pingback: Supplements – some advice | 1000kmstowindermere

  4. Pingback: Smashed a 400m | 1000kmstowindermere

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