When I did my first Ironman in Busselton, Australia, I thought quite a lot about what to put in my special needs bags.
You know, the bags you get to pick up halfway through the ride and run.
Some people put extra gels, sunscreen, band-aids, pain killers or other practical things in them.
I, however, opted for a food that wasn’t quite ideal for a race fuel, tempeh.
Tempeh is high in protein and fat and isn’t really the best thing to be eating while on the bike, especially when you still have 90 more km to do and a marathon after that.
And when I told this to some friends, they said it was a bad idea, and I should just stick to normal gels and my standard Hammer concoction.
But it was (and still is) one of my favorite foods, especially when cooked by my wife.
So, a day or two after we landed in Australia, she went to the supermarket and bought the ingredients to cook it.
This included the tempeh, a coconut, tamarind, and more.
Back at our rental property, as she struggled to crack open the coconut, I realized how much trouble making this favorite of mine was.
That’s when I knew I wanted it in my special needs bag. Although it may not have been the ideal performance fuel, I was sure the psychological or emotional lift it would give me would be significant, an even bigger boost than the nutritional value of some expensive performance fuel.
So maybe optimizing your nutrition doesn’t purely mean shooting for physical performance.
A sense of the familiar, someone who loves you, and something from home may just be the boost you need to endure the rest of the race.