We’ve caught up with paratriathlete Fran Brown again in the run up to training for the Tokyo Paralympics. This time, she told us how Team GB prepares for competing in the heat and shared her travel and nutrition tips when getting ready for a big event.
“Being an ostomate, hydration is so important”
I’m currently swimming four times a week, biking ten hours per week and running four times a week. Before we compete, we’ll go to Loughborough for the heat training, which will help us to prepare for the hot and humid conditions in Tokyo. This involves training in an acclimatisation chamber heated to a high temperature and with high humidity. As an ostomate, hydration is so important because getting cramp after sessions is so bad. I have high output on top of the risk of dehydration, so I put hydro tabs in everything and drink St Mark’s solution.
“When I run and ride my output stops which is very common”
Obviously when you’re training, because your heart rate is higher, blood flow diverts away from your gut which makes your output stop and then it catches up afterwards! I have to change my flange after every session because I just sweat loads. If I’m swimming, water doesn’t seem to affect it. I tend to just put a flange extender around and that’s enough to keep the edges on. My skin stays nice and healthy despite the sweat because I use a barrier spray.
I did swim once when I forgot to put flange extenders around my bag. I got into the shower, and this was a fancy gym with fluffy white towels, and my bag just decided to detach itself. To make matters worse, my locker was miles away. It turns out the spare swim hat I had knocking around in my swimming bag makes quite a nice cover! You just have to laugh about it and move on.
“Jelly babies are great for slowing down your output”
Because I have a high output, everything I eat goes through me so quickly. Carbs are good, but I can’t do diary. I need to be careful around protein shakes and choose vegan ones that are soy based. I eat loads of little meals and that’s a Godsend for me. I don’t like energy gels or energy drinks because they’re all maltodextrin based and that just doesn’t sit well with me. We found jelly babies work – believe it or not they are really good for slowing down your output, as are marshmallows. Instead of a gel, I have an electrolyte drink for my fluids and then take jelly babies on the bike.
“Empty the air from your bag before you get on a plane”
I’ll also need to think about preparing to get on a plane. Top tip: make sure your bag is empty. People trap air in their bags to stop pancaking but make sure you get it all out before you get on the flight because your bag will expand and, at the moment, you can’t just queue for the toilet.
I’ll need to think about food too, because airline food is so hit and miss, and I often find I need to empty my bag more when I land due to the pressure difference. So that’s going to be interesting from a hydration point of view. The plane is like living in permanent aircon, so you dehydrate far quicker than at normal room temperature too. I’m away from home for over 5 weeks in the run up to the games, so I’ve phoned my GP and asked for three months’ worth of supplies. I’d always phone your GP before travelling and get that extra buffer of supplies.
I’m just looking forward to getting the job done now and maybe having a holiday with my husband afterwards. As I’ve said before, anything is possible with a stoma, so wish me luck!
About the author: Fran Brown is a world champion paratriathlete based in London. She will be competing on 28th August at 6.30am in the morning (27th of August 22:30 pm for UK based supporters!) . We’ll be following her progress and cheering her on. If you’d like to become one of our guest bloggers, please get in touch.