Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A scientific experiment cannot have an n=1

As a scientist, you must repeat experiments and get repeatable results before you can start to draw conclusions.  When your  n=1 (i.e. only a single experiment has been done), it's impossible to run statistics - you need a minimum of n=2, and even then you'll never reach statistical significance.

But I'd like to tell you that on Saturday, I tried a new nutritional product.  I was scheduled for an easy aerobic ride, so I rode PCH to Big Rock in 4 hours, 36 seconds, covering 75.9 miles, and burning an estimated 1999 calories (Garmin's best guess, which is far from perfect).  

I learned long ago that I blow through carbs like nobody's business.  If I eat only carbs for breakfast, I'm hungry in 2 hours, tops.  Same thing on the bike - I've literally eaten 500+ calories in gels, Shot Bloks, in my drink mix, etc - all to no avail.  Still.  Starving.  I need protein and/or fat (I'm still working out whether I need both or just protein.  Experiments are on-going.)

The exciting part!  I did the ride on (almost) all liquid nutrition.  I had a run-in with a gel at hour #3.

I hate bars and I tolerate gels.  What I really want on the bike when training for and racing Ironman is a buffet.  I dream of a Special Needs Buffet with sandwiches and real food, not some protein packed into an overly sweet or disgustingly textured bar.  Pretty much every product on the market wears on my taste buds after 6 hours, week after week.  

I struggled to get food into me at Ironman Arizona last year.  After crossing the finish line, I immediately consulted with my coach Gareth Thomas and I'm pretty sure the first thing out of my mouth was "next year...I need to figure out my nutrition!" (Actually no - the first thing out of my mouth was "That was the hardest thing I have ever done, in any capacity, in my whole life!").  The nutrition comment came second.  I thought Gareth and I had figured everything out at the start of the season - he created a plan for me that tried to minimize the number of bars I had to eat, instead including savory peanut-butter filled pretzels (which I still love to eat on the bike).  Unfortunately, after months of training, by race day I was done; those bars would simply not go down unless I washed them down with drink.  I wished I had figured out how to get 3 turkey and avocado sandwiches into my Bento Box...*sigh*.

If I can do the IM AZ bike course this coming November on liquid nutrition only, I'm putting myself in the best possible position to avoid the barfy problem I encountered last year in AZ during the marathon.  I'm STOKED at this prospect!!

However, n=1 does not an experiment make.  If this is repeatable, and I can be successful during my long bike-run bricks, I'll blog about it and recommend this product.  Until then, pay attention to your nutritional needs, and continue seeking out a solution until you find one.  We're all unique, and there are a lot of good products out there.  Unfortunately, most of them taste really gross to me!

1 comment:

  1. Definitely let me know if it works :) I struggle with the energy blocks, gummys, and goos too. And when I eat them, my stomach is always sick afterwards.

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