A day in its entirety…

I put a plug out in my last post for some ideas on what to write about. The topic that seemed to come up most is nutrition. I thought about just writing a few days worth of what I eat, but I thought that might be a little boring, and a bit far removed from everyday reality i.e. when each item is consumed. So instead I figured I would do a post something to the tune of “a day in the life…” (Thanks Stephen C. for the idea!). In this post I have included just about everything I did today, but in the interest of taste, I omitted washroom breaks. So here it goes:

  • Alarm went off at 7:15 a.m. Hit snooze. Got out of bed at 8 a.m.
  • Ate a big bowl of frosted flakes and a coffee with three sugar and two cream (460 cal.)
  • At 9:15 a.m. I started my run workout.
  • Run workout:
    • 5mi w/u to 2x(0.63mi@11.5mph with 0.17miR@7.0mph) to 5.0mi@10.5mph with 1miR@8.0mph to 2x(0.63mi@11.5mph with 0.17miR@7.0mph) to 2x(2.5mi@10.5mph with 0.5miR@7.0mph) to 2x(0.63mi@11.5mph with 0.27miR@7.0mph) to 4x(1.25mi@10.5mph with 0.25miR@7.0) to 1mi c/d. Total volume: 26.5 miles. Duration: 2:44:41.
    • Nutrition during the workout:
      • 4 gummy worms (120 cal.)
      • 1 sports drink (150 cal.)
      • 2 bottles of water (1.2L)
  • Shower.
  • Iced back of right knee for 15 minutes (have a slight niggle).
  • Lunch at 1 p.m.:
    • 1.3L of chocolate milk (850 cal.)
    • 4 chicken fingers with ranch dressing (450 cal.)
    • 2 egg rolls with sweet chilli sauce (400 cal.)
    • 1 cup mixed vegetables with salt and butter (80 cal.)
    • 2 cups of water (1L)
    • 2 sour keys (35 cal.)
    • 1 can of Coca-Cola (160 cal.)
  • Had a nap from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
  • Had a coffee and took Chewy for a walk.
  • At 3:45 started bike workout:
    • 15m w/u to 20min@330w w/5minR to 25min@320w w/5mR to 30min@310w w/5minR to 20min@325w w/5minR to 25min@315w to 10min c/d. Total time: 2:45. Average power: 297w. Normalized power: 304w.
    • Bike Workout
    • Nutrition during the workout:
      • 10 sour keys (175 cal.)
      • 1 granola bar (200 cal.)
      • 1 and a half sports drinks (225 cal.)
      • 3 and a half bottles of water (2.1L)
  • Shower.
  • Iced back of right knee 15 minutes.
  • Dinner at 7:20 p.m.:
    • 2 sausages with bun with smoked hickory barbeque sauce (750 cal.)
    • 2 servings of French fries with ketchup (320 cal.)
    • 1 can of Coca-Cola (160 cal.)
    • 0.65L of chocolate milk (425 cal.)
    • Dinner
  • Swim workout at 8:30 p.m.:
    • 6×100 on 1:40 concentrating on relaxed recovery; keeping arms close to body
    • 6×100 band on 1:50
    • 6×100 on 1:35 concentrating on relaxed recovery; keeping arms close to body
    • 6×100 band on 1:45
    • 6×100 on 1:35 concentrating on relaxed recovery; keeping arms close to body
    • 2x(100 back on 1:50 to 100 free on 1:40)
    • Total: 3400m / 59 minutes
  • Second dinner at 10:15 p.m.:
    • Half a medium pizza with double cheese, dipped in ranch dressing (~1200 cal.)
    • 2 glasses of water (1L)
    • 0.65L of chocolate milk (425 cal.)
    • 15 gummy bears (130 cal.)
  • Took Chewy for a walk.
  • Wrote this blog post.
  • Cup of tea and a bit of reading.
  • Lights out at 12:00 a.m.


Running: 26.5 miles / 2 hours 45 minutes

Biking: 2 hours 45 minutes

Swimming: 3400 meters / 59 minutes

Exercise: 6 hours 29 minutes

Calories: 6715

Water: 5.3L

Weight a.m.: 164 lbs.

Weight p.m. 164 lbs.

By request, here is my run workout in metric (sorry my treadmill is in miles, so I have begun to think this way!):

4km warm up to 2x(1km@3:15/km with 0.27km recovery @5:20/km) to 8km@3:33/km with 1.6km recovery @4:45/km to 2x(1km@3:15/km with 0.27km recovery @5:20/km) to 2x(4km@3:33/km with 0.8km recovery @5:20/km) to 2x(1km@3:15/km with 0.43km recovery @5:20/km) to 4x(2km@3:33/km with 0.25km recovery @5:20/km) to 1.6km cool down. Total volume: 42.4km. Total time: 2:44:41.

28 thoughts on “A day in its entirety…

  1. That’s definitely a full day of training! Is the big difference increased volume now over shorter, harder workouts when you were racing shorter distances? Also, do you train all 3 disciplines daily or only some days a week? Oddly, your amount of nutrition doesn’t seem like very much but perhaps it is more calorie dense than it would first appear. You like your candy… I like my chocolate chip cookies 🙂 thanks for posting. Always a good read!

    • For the most part I would say this is the biggest difference (inc. volume), but with that increased volume the intensity also is forced to drop a bit. I would never have considered doing repeats at 10.5mph in 70.3 training, as that pace is too slow. But at 140.6, that is well below world record pace if you could hold it for the marathon, off the bike.

      I train all three disciplines just about every single day. Maybe once a week I will only train in two of the disciplines.

      I’ve calculated my caloric intake a few times at random in the past, and it usually comes in around 7000 calories, so I think this is a pretty average day. I have not gained or lost weight in over a year, so it must be adequate.

      I used to buy chocolate chip cookies by the case…as I needed that many to get me through the week. I tend to change my “junk food” as I get different cravings.

      Thanks for the comments!!

  2. hey buddy, sounds like you’re well on your way! I would agree with the previous comment, but with your weight being identical morning to night, sounds like you’ve got the nutrition figured out pretty well. I am also interested to know if you train all 3 daily or just to see where you’re at on a weekly/monthly basis? keep up the work!

    • Hey Shayne. I tend to train all 3 disciplines just about every day. Maybe a couple days a month I will only train two. And perhaps one day a month I will only train one, or even take a day off from everything.

  3. Let me state up front I’m no expert and I am amazed at your performance to date. I’ve been sucked into the excitement of having such an amazing athlete excell in the sport and look forward to watching you in 2015! Please take take my comments in the spirit they are intended. It would appear from this single day in the life that you are not getting enough protein immediately after your workouts and general you are missing high value foods which is causing your body to crave sugars as a result. As you increase your training volume this will likely become more of an issue. Thanks for staying so connect!

    • Thanks for the comments Darryl. I usually drink at least a litre of chocolate milk after each workout which contains about 25g of protein, and then have some sort of meat with meal, containing around 25g as well. I am the most muscular I have ever been, so I would take this as a sign that I am getting in adequate protein.

      As for sugar cravings, I have had a serious sweet tooth way before I ever started endurance training!

      With regards to training volume increases, I am actually training less in total now then I was when training for the 70.3 This is because I have reduced the volume on my “easy days” for the sake of being able to do more on my “hard days.”

      Thanks for the comments!

  4. Hey Lionel, first congrats on all your accomplishments this year!! Great Job! I’m 41 years old and in 2013 I completed my first race of any kind at the Muskoka 70.3, which you of course won 🙂 I remember saying to my friends that day, watch out for Andreas Raelert, he would be the one to beat. But after the race, they told me that this fast guy named Lionel Sanders had won and I have been following your progress ever since. You are for sure on your way to many World Championship Wins.

    I want to say thank you for updating us mere triathlon mortals with your advice and daily training logs. It’s nice to see how training is performed at the Pro levels. I was wondering if you could provide more details on your swim progress and how you plan to improve on that discipline. Once you nail the swim and get out with that front pack, with all due respect to Javier, I think he will have his hands full, as well as Crowie in his prime 🙂 I know, big comparisons, but you are already so very close. By the way, have you ever met Crowie and talked training?

    Thx Lionel

    • Thanks for the kind words man. At the moment I am sort of just maintaining my current swimming (which is not so good!), so I don’t have much to say on the topic. Right after IM Florida I will be joining a swim club and receiving coaching daily. At that point I will begin to write a lot more about swimming, and hopefully the improvements I am seeing. And no, I have not yet met Crowie, but I have spent literally hundreds of hours staring at a picture of him winning Kona 2009 (teeth gritted, finishing banner over the shoulders, muscles flexed), and hope to meet him sometime soon.

      • Since you will be in Florida, maybe stop by and see Gary Hall Sr and Jr. Lionel Sanders under the watchful eye of those two would truly be a lethal weapon 😉

  5. Hey Lionel! Love the blog! Want to translate the run workout into km’s and min/km’s for a fellow Canuck?
    Looking forward to your first Ironman result soon!

    • Hey man. Sorry about that. My treadmill is in miles. I never understood miles for the longest time (my mom always talks in them), but then hear I am talking in miles! I have updated the post (at the bottom) with the workout in metric.

  6. Urgh! Lionel, I’m heavily jealous of the fact that you can eat soo much ‘junk’ food. I lived with an athlete like you for many years. Love the training programs that you do, think I may have to try the running one some time (granted a bit slower). Good luck for the rest of the year, I look forward to hearing all about 2015. P.S do you ever take a day off??? you mention training everyday, when do you give your body time to truly rest? Hopefully see you at the C3 Banquet.

    • Thanks Trudy. I used to take days off…but I am a big believer in rhythm. Once you find a good rhythm, you can get some really good training in. Thus, I have come to find that taking days completely off can often do more harm then good. It could take me 3 or 4 days to get the rhythm I had before taking the day off, back. Now, I take very easy days. Monday of this week for instance all I did was a 30 minute spin, a 5k run, and a 3k swim. I felt like a million bucks on Tuesday, and hadn’t lost much of the rhythm I had been building in the days prior. Yes, I will see you there!

  7. Lionel you are a legend. First time I have seen Frosted Flakes, gummy bears, coke, chicken fingers, sausage and fries, and extra cheese pizza on a pro athlete’s blog. Where is the steel cut oats, Quinoa and Kale, and First Endurance recovery drinks?

    I have been a fan for a while as a fellow participant in the MSC races. Love all the candor not only is it interesting and selfless I am sure it is growing the fan base exponentially. I’ll be checking in online on Race Day good luck! – Corey

  8. Lionel, thanks for sharing. I was hoping you could talk a little bit about your fluid intake during the day and training. Looking thru your post it seems like you consumed about 9.5l of fluid all day. Considering you worked out for 6.5hrs that seems very little. I really struggle with a high sweat rate and never seem to be able to keep up with my intake. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hey Jan. Thanks for the comment. Admittedly, I don’t seem to have any problems in this area. In a 70.3 for instance, even when it’s pretty hot, I will only take in two botttles on the bike, and a small hand bottle on the run (for about 4 hours of racing). If I did have this problem though, I would approach it as trying to drink things I like and enjoy drinking. That way, I have the desire to drink lots. I really like eating gummy worms and granola bars, thus I eat them on the bike (and even the run for long workouts) because this allowed me to eat a lot, and stay on top of my calories. If all I was eating was gels, I would have difficulty taking in adequate calories, because these can become rather disgusting, the further you get into a long workout / race. I think the same is probably true of liquids. I wouldn’t be afraid to experiment with many different liquids. I will drink several different types of sports drinks while exercising, along with water, and coke. I do this in workouts, and will likely do this during the Ironman as well. I think this at least gives you a shot at taking in adequate volumes of liquid. And I don’t think anything should be neglected, if you enjoy drinking it. It sounds crazy, but I know a guy who drinks milk on the bike! I don’t know how he does it, but he does, and it works for him.

      Best of luck with this issue.

  9. I really like these days in the life and videos you have done! What do you watch and listen too while doing that much work indoors? Do you see yourself moving some workouts outside ever? How much work will you do day after this and how many “big” days do you put in per week?

    • Thanks for the comment Scott. I usually do about three big days a week. On these days I mainly just listen to music. Currently I am really enjoying trance, house and progressive music. I really like the Above and Beyond Group Therapy podcast, as well as Armin Van Burren’s A State of Trance podcast. I’m not a big visual guy, so I only rarely watch anything while riding / running. My girlfriend on the other hand my girlfriend watches TV shows and movies the whole time she’s on the treadmill.

      If it’s a really windy day, I could see myself putting on the deep dish rims and riding outside, to begin improving in this regard for Kona. As well, if it’s really humid outside, I could see doing a run workout outside, once again, to simulate Kona. Otherwise, I see myself doing the vast majority of my training indoors, from now on. Actually, that’s not completely true. I think I will set my CompuTrainer outside next year on nice days, so that I can still work on my tan!!

  10. The amount of transfats you eat is eventually going to take you down. There is no enzyme in the liver to burn the fried fats, thus they sit around in the arteries, collecting up… its only a matter of time. You want to be the big gun at kona, stop eating like a kid that plays video games all day.

    • That’s certainly not the nicest comment I’ve had, but I went and checked all of the foods that I ate that day anyway. The only things with transfats were the coffee cream (0.1g/tablespoon), the egg rolls (0.1g/eggroll), and the butter (0.2g/2 teaspoons). I then went and did a quick google search of allowable transfat intakes and found this from The Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition:

      The goal of the Task Force’s recommendations was to
      significantly improve the heart health of Canadians by
      reducing our average daily intake of trans fat to less
      than 1% of total energy intake. This translates to
      eating less than 2 grams of trans fat every day for an
      average adult who eats 2000 calories daily.

      I took in about 0.8g of transfat that day (which was admittedly a high processed food day). I am well below the number the Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition wants to get the whole population down to! But, just for you, I’m having whole-wheat pizza crust tonight.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • The french fries have 4g (unless they were baked). The canadian council on food decisions are altered by lobbyists, as big business would suffer if they had to remove the ingredient out. It is similar to consuming mercury like the first emperor of china did…he consumed perhaps .1g a day. In 10 years though he completely deteriorated mentally. I know your great performance numbers creates a large ego and feeling of indestructable-ness, but I have been researching on some athletes, and in due time the damage will begin (think of former greats,why are they still not in the game? peter reid, etc ). I want to see you succeed and destroy records…

  11. Lionel, I really enjoyed reading your blog and hearing about the superhuman abilities that you have. I have questions regarding strength training. How much of it do you do, where do you squeeze it in, and what types of exercises do you focus on for injury prevention? Thanks!

    • Thanks Derek. I currently don’t do any strength training. I have tried to get into it, but I just have no love for it and it’s difficult to keep at it. That being said, I had a conversation with Dave Scott in March, and he said he think’s it’s one of the most important aspects of being able to train hard, for a long time. This is definitely something I will try a little harder to get into in the coming months. This year my biggest focus was on running and biking very hard, as I knew this was my best shot at posting some good results, and solidifying some sponsorship. Over the winter I will begin to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s”. Obviously, putting some more emphasis on swimming will be something very high up on the list.

      • I would like to say that we are in the same boat on the strength training and swimming thing, but I think that we are in different oceans, hahaha! Keep up the good work so people like me can get motivated by your terrific effort.

  12. Hi Lionel, I love the blog, very enjoyable reading, This one is great. Congrats on Tremblant this year you earned it, looking at your typical training day. I was just curious, when you do short races like the Tomato Man, is this like a warm up/workout for you?. I found it amazing that I was probably still on the bike when you were at the finish eating pizza.!

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