After months of planning and hard slog, this is how a bodybuilder took the leap into elite endurance while still gaining lean muscle.
Expert: Kris Gethin
Nutrition consultant, trainer and CEO of Kaged Muscle.
The last stretch
In just six months I was able to attain the conditioning needed to complete a full Ironman in 15 hours, something that was meant to be impossible.
Further impossibilities were overcome as I gained three pounds of lean mass and shed nearly four pounds of fat. That’s right, during my Ironman training I continued to live as a bodybuilder.
This is my race report, giving you an inside look into what it took to become the ultimate hybrid athlete.
It is possible for you to be strong, muscular, powerful and aerobically fit enough to complete a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run – all within 15 hours.
The final tweaks
By the time I’d got to Coeur d’alene I was prepared, physically and mentally. all that I had to do was ensure my diet made my body race ready by gradually increasing carbs the day before and very early on the morning of the event.
Another important part of my final preparations was to relax, avoiding stress and letting my mind visualize the coming event and everything it would entail.
The day before the event I checked my bike in and other relevant equipment at the transition stages.
As a final ritual for improved performance and relaxation, I received a lymphatic drainage massage along with some soft tissue therapy on my legs.
I was ready in every way.
Training week: 26 of 26
Days trained this week: 5 Weight training
Sessions per week: 4 Hours spent on
Cardio per week: 5
Current body fat: 12.8%
Current weight: 216lb
Height: 5ft 8in
Issues: no problems other than trying to distance myself from work to visualize my race and be mentally prepared for everything that potentially could go wrong so I am not left with any surprises on the day.
Man of Iron
Race day nutrition – my event started at 4:00am so I woke up at 2:30am and ate a 1500 calorie meal which consisted of:
– almond butter
– Egg whites
– Whole eggs
– manuka honey – Dates
To hyper-hydrate my body, throughout the event I took on as much water as I could with added HYDra-CHarGE; this was modified so the five naturally occurring electrolytes could give me the best possible state of hydration.
In this drink, I also added fermented bcaas and glutamine to help with recovery and synthesis. Half an hour before I got into the water I had another banana, just to get some extra fructose and potassium.
Swimming definitely used to be my weakest discipline, but I’m pleased with how this event went. Halfway through we briefly came out of the water to see our stats, at which point I ate an energy gel.
My laps were eight minutes slower than during my half Ironman, a tactic I used to ensure I had enough energy left in the tank to complete the whole event.
The only difficulty I faced in the water was having my goggles kicked off, which is something that can and will happen.
To make sure I didn’t have to deal with this inconvenience again, I tightened my goggles before putting them back on. My transition from the water was effortless, although I did feel a little dizzy.
It goes to show how swimming for that long can sap away at energy stores. At the transition station I had my bag waiting for me, which contained a bottle full of my modified water, fermented glutamine and bcaas. This was much needed.
The Couer d’alene cycle route is one of the most demanding in the world. My goal was to keep my watts (power output) between 180-200 to preserve my energy, but getting up those hills required me to go above 300 watts. This was largely due to my weight.
Per hour I was consuming 24 ounces of my modified water to stay hydrated. After the first hour, I also started taking RE-Kaged because I needed a fast digesting protein to help my muscles recover.
I also added it to an energy ball which I ate every other hour, which consisted of other ingredients such as oats, nuts, ginger, seeds, turmeric, dates and manuka honey. Every ball contained 250 calories.
I also ate some all-natural bars called Picky Bars, which have been carefully created with natural ingredients by top Ironman athlete, Jesse Thomas.
My pace during the cycle was 30 minutes slower per lap (one hour in total) than my half Ironman, again very deliberate to pace myself.
As I reached the final climb I did feel very fatigued, so much so I thought my tire had gone down!
To start my run I lifted my knees higher just to wake them up. Surprisingly I felt fresh so I upped my pace from 11:30 minute miles to 10:30, per mile.
My camel pack contained a lot of fluid with modified water, fermented BCAAs and glutamine. I also carried Picky Bars and pancakes from Nutrition Solutions.
The only time I stopped was to pee, which was frequent due to my high fluid intake! At each aid station, I’d stop to grab some ice, placing it down my top and shorts just to keep my core temperate down.
As fatigue set in I could feel my posture leaning forward. My remedy was to remind myself to relax, staying in control of my breathing and movement.
Rhythm and being mentally aware were very important for me at this point. As I reached the 17th mile I tore into my emergency stash, which was a peanut and jam bagel. After two mouthfuls I was done!
As I reached the final lap of my run I picked my pace up, knowing I had enough fuel in the tank to make it. This really proves the effectiveness of my diet, training, hydration, relaxation, and supplementation.
The glory of becoming an Ironman
As Mike Reilly announced: “Kris Gethin, you are an Ironman,” goose-bumps tingled down my spine. The doubters had finally been silenced. This is one of the most enjoyable challenges I’ve ever faced and I’m glad I’ve proven with the right program you can build muscle, lose fat and become an extreme hybrid athlete.
Follow my free MAN of IRON video series updates on my Instagram account (@krisgethin) and on Bodybuilding.com