9 May 2011: 5150

I am now writing nutrition articles for the new 5150 race series. Read all about it below and check out how to prepare for race day on the 5150 website.  

Pip Taylor: Fast Through Nutrition




Photo from www.piptaylor.com

Matthew Dale profiles the top triathlete and nutritionist who will be a regular 5150 series competitor

Under the list of favorites on her Web site, the first thing Pip Taylor mentions is food.

“I have been known to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a good mango,” writes Taylor, a professional triathlete. “But other top-of-listers are fresh seafood, quince, Aussie lamb and, of course, good chocolate.”

(Quince, for those of you who are not epicurean experts, is a golden-yellow, pear-shaped fruit.)

Discussing ways she likes to spend an off day, five of the six items on Taylor’s list involve eating, preparing a meal, shopping for food or dining out.

Like most human beings, Taylor enjoys eating.

Unlike most humans, she’s fixated on eating healthy.

“I think nutrition is hugely important,”  says Taylor, 31, a native Aussie who now splits her time between Australia and the United States. “It just helps you to maximize your training to get the results you’re after.”

In addition to being a world-class triathlete (she owns six top-three finishes in the Ironman 70.3 series), Taylor is a professional nutritionist. With the World Triathlon Corporation launching the new 5150 series in 2011, WTC is also kicking off a Web site dedicated to the series. Taylor will write a twice-a-month column for the site, focusing predominantly on nutrition.

One thing Taylor will stress is that there is no one-size-fits-all nutritional program, particularly when it comes to training and race-day intake.

“Your plan is always going to be different than someone else’s,” she says.

“There’s a couple key guidelines with timing (of food), as well as nutritional content and balance,” she adds. “Whether that’s optimizing recovery or whether that’s working around foods to reduce your risk of gastro-intestinal distress.”

As a rule, Taylor recommends that triathletes eat something within 45 minutes after a taxing workout. “It’s very hard to recommend a specific amount (of food), but something that contains protein and carbs combined will maximize recovery.”

There is a caveat to that rule of thumb.

“It depends a lot on your training regimen,” Taylor says. “If you’re not doing anything strenuous in the next 24 hours, that window is not as critical. If you’re working out later the same day, then it is recommended.”

Before triathletes can worry about what specifically to consume on race day or in training, first they must maintain a good base diet.

“The basis of that is pretty simple,” Taylor says. “You want a variety of foods. Lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats like avocados and nuts.”

Raised outside Sydney, Taylor enjoyed the idyllic triathlon background. Her parents had her swimming before she could walk or talk. By her late teens she was a national level runner and swimmer. Swimming’s grind, though, burned out Taylor.

She still wanted to pursue an athletic outlet, but wasn’t sure which direction to turn. At 18, Taylor underwent a talent identification test at the Australian Institute of Sport. The results indicated her skill set was ideal for triathlon.

“I really didn’t know anything about triathlon at all,” Taylor says. “I had never watched or seen a race. I didn’t know any triathletes.”

By 19, she was competing in Australia’s super sprint Formula One series. After recording numerous podium finishes in recent years at the 70.3 distance, Taylor will focus primarily on the 5150 circuit this year.

“Having a series like this is fantastic on a couple of levels,” Taylor says. “It offers a distance that achievable for a lot of people. It also adds some validation to that distance.

“Because it’s shorter than an Ironman or 70.3 doesn’t mean it’s an easier race. Because it’s shorter (a 1.5 kilometer swim, 40K bike and 10K run) means you’re redlining more. The need for a bit of speed and a bit of explosiveness becomes important.

“Plus, an Ironman limits how many races you can do in a year. These races are a good opportunity to get in some race practice. You get in some speed, but it can also be race specific, like working on transitions.”

Taylor plans to race at least seven of the events on the 5150 series. For the Aussie who splits her time between Lennox Head, New South Wales, Australia, and Lawrence, Kansas, the combination of being a pro triathlete and nutritionist is the perfect recipe.

“A lot of my focus is still on racing and racing well,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve met my potential there. I have a lot of goals I still want to kick off.

“But I’m also passionate about good food and good nutrition and how that relates to good performance. If I can communicate that to people and help them, that’s fantastic.

“I also like that balance in my life. It’s good to have an active brain and use it in other ways than just training. I think it’s important to have balance in everyone’s life.”

Matthew Dale is a regular contributor to Ironman.com