Elaine Garvican: My Day on a Plate

As any triathlete knows, training is hungry work and training multiple times a day means you have to be a little bit more organized about what you eat and when if you’re not going to fall victim to junk food cravings. Here, Tri Training Harder Race Team athlete Elaine Garvican lets us in on what she ate – and the training that food fuelled – and registered nutritionist Helen Money from The Bosworth Clinic casts her expert eye on the day’s intake.


I am extremely fortunate in that running my own business and sitting on the Board of Directors for a veterinary charity means that the majority of my work is done from home. The pool is a 10 minute drive away and I have access to an enormous, amazingly well-stocked Army gym about 1km walk from my house. All this makes it easy for me to organize my commitments around the training sessions my coach (Philip Hatzis) sets me. None of the training I did on this day required any mid-session fueling, so the emphasis was on three good meals and adequate snacking in between to make sure I got the most out of each session.


Porridge (110g oats, whole milk), mixed nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts approx. 60-70g), 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp golden syrup. Tea. 2 Vitamin D tablets, 1 Ferrograd C tablet.


I love eating breakfast. Very occasionally, I have something else on my porridge, but I am also more than happy to eat this every day of the year! As a general principle, I think athletes should try to take as few supplements as possible, but even though my diet is generally quite high in iron, I find it difficult to keep my ferratin levels at optimum. Living in Yorkshire and being a cold-blooded Southerner also means I need to supplement my Vitamin D intake during the winter months.


This is an excellent breakfast for Elaine to start the day with. The large serving of porridge oats with golden syrup will provide fuel for her swim. The addition of nuts and seeds adds nutrients needed for energy creation as well as protein.


Swim: Speed Set, 3km.

Warm Up: 400m Mixed stroke, 10 seconds recovery; 2x100m Individual Medley, 15 seconds recovery; 4x50m 25m fast, 25m easy

Main Set: 19x100m as: 75m sprint, get out the water, do 10 press ups, 25m easy swimming recovery

Cool Down: 300m Mixed stroke


This swim set was pretty brutal – after about 13 reps, your arms start to become very wobbly and hauling yourself out onto the pool deck for another 10 push-ups becomes more and more challenging. “Sprint” also became something of a relative term! This set took me just over an hour.


Protein smoothie (1 banana, 3 tbsp Fage yoghurt, 2 large handfuls raspberries/blackberries, 3 scoops HIGH5 summer fruits flavour protein powder, whole milk).


Since working with Helen, I’ve definitely become better at post-workout refueling. Smoothies are quick and easy to make and perfect when you intend to train again fairly soon, as it doesn’t feel like you have a stomach full of food.


Elaine recognises the importance of nutritional recovery after training. This smoothie provides protein to repair and strengthen her muscles, carbohydrate to refill glycogen stores ready for her next session, antioxidants to help clear free radicals and aid muscle recovery as well calcium to support long term bone health. For athletes training again within 24 hours ideally fast release carbohydrates are used in recovery, fat slows the release of sugars so optimally Elaine’s milk would have been skimmed.


Gym: Strength Endurance

3 sets of 10-12 reps 2 mins recovery:

– Power Clean – Split Jerk – Jumping Squats – Speed Bench Press – Speed Bent Over Row


I’m still relatively new to the gym, having done no formal S&C prior to the beginning of 2016. This phase is about learning to harness the strength I’ve developed over the winter and convert it into explosive power, so the weight has to stay relatively low and technique, as always, is of paramount importance.


Wholewheat bagel with fried halumi cheese; 4 or 5 mini pickled beetroots; yoghurt-coated cereal bar; 2 pancakes with raisins. Tea


Lunch was a bit random today – especially the beetroot! Sometimes it’s just a case of whatever is in the fridge or cupboards, which are looking a bit bare.


I’m loving the beetroot! Carbohydrate, antioxidants, nitrates and the fermentation process in pickling is great for gut health.


Run: 45mins easy


Carrot, hummus, glass of whole milk


I drink a lot of milk, especially when I come in from running. It’s too long to wait till dinner to eat something, so a small snack tides me over till I’ve stretched, showered and cooked.


I’m pleased Elaine put this snack in. A 45 minute easy run to someone training at this level may not seem like much but glycogen stores will still have been raided and muscles torn. Good choices of foods high in vitamins and minerals to support overall wellbeing. Some milkshake powder could have been added to the milk to increase carbs.


Large diced chicken breast, cooked with ½ can of mixed beans in chili sauce, ½ onion, ½ pepper; couscous; fine beans; broccoli. Glass of elderflower cordial with sparkling water. Tea


I enjoy cooking, but I don’t have the patience to stand there for hours and I’d rather spend my time on other things. I always cook more than one meal’s worth in one go so that I can freeze the rest. There are many days I get back in from a long bike ride with no energy to cook, at which point there’s nothing better than having a few “microwave dinners” on standby. I like quite a wide range of vegetables, but broccoli ranks pretty highly.


Lovely dinner. I like the addition of beans and broccoli to what would otherwise be a low iron meal.

Total calories:

approx. 4,035kcal

Macros breakdown:


4035 kcals well invested! Everything Elaine ate contributed towards her performance and wellbeing. As the race season starts Elaine’s training focus will switch to endurance over strength, during this phase protein intake can be lowered slightly and calories spent on raising carbohydrate intake to 8-9 grams per kilogram of body weight. Elaine’s fat intake is slightly on the high side, this could be reduced by switching to skimmed milk however Elaine loves milk and it is an important part of her nutrition plan. If I were to switch this to skimmed she would likely not drink it. I am very pleased to see that Elaine is eating well through the day matching energy supply with energy demand.

Do you feel you could benefit from some expert nutritional advice?


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With our coaching packages, you can set up a nutritionalist to ensure that the training and also the fuelling are appropriate for each day and each session.