How to train for an ironman with “Dietitian without Borders”

In the latest of our In Profile series, we caught up with Australian Gemma Sampson, who can tell you everything you need to know about food. She loves the outdoors and is currently in training for Ironman. The very best of luck Gemma!

About me

I’m a Sports Dietitian and nutritionist also known as Dietitian without Borders. I’m from Australia, grew up in Zambia and have been living in the UK for the past 6 years, mostly in Liverpool.I discovered ZAAZEE at a triathlon show in Manchester earlier this year. I tried on a few pieces of clothing and absolutely loved the tops in particular because of their bright colours and interesting backs. The fabric feels amazing and it’s quality material as well. As someone who rarely seems to get out of training gear at the moment, that’s important to me!

Gemma Sampson @DietNoBorders B

Passion for life

I’ve always been an outdoorsy sort of girl and I absolutely hate sitting still. Earlier this year I managed to convince my workplace to get me a standing desk and I’m starting a movement as I think there are at least 15 people now using them on a regular basis within our office!Last year after years of talking about doing a triathlon, I got involved with my local club Mersey Tri, started training and raced my first 3 triathlons (spring, olympic & half ironman). This year I’m training for Ironman Wales which is rapidly approaching mid September! I’ve also discovered time trial cycling which I absolutely love. There are three bikes on my wall currently and counting..
I loved the tops in particular because of their bright colours and interesting backs. The fabric feels amazing and it’s quality material as well.
As someone who loves the outdoors, I think being involved in sport and fitness gives me freedom, relaxes me and just leaves me buzzing. I’m known for always having a smile on my face when I’m doing some sort of sport – no matter whether it’s climbing a killer hill on my bike or having my legs destroyed by my personal trainer during a weighted lunges session!It’s where I clear my head after a stressful day, it’s a fantastic way to explore and to me it’s just fun. Sport excites me and makes me come alive. Naturally an ironman isn’t everyone’s idea of fun (and that’s totally okay), but I love inspiring others to incorporate some sort of physical activity in a way they enjoy – be it indoors or outdoors.
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With less than two months of training to go before my ironman I’m in peak training season! I tend to train 6 days a week, with double sessions on most of those. Once a week I work with my personal trainer, who is really more like my strength & conditioning coach as he incorporates a lot of rehabilitative stretching, while leaving my legs in pieces afterwards! I also have a coach who writes my training programme for me.I’d really recommend this, as it takes away the stress and hassle of having to think about what to do on a weekly basis. I just add the sessions to my diary and then go and do it!

I try and do at least one or two open water swims a week, usually in the marina. I don’t like the docks because the jellyfish scare me! Most days I have to get up about 5am in order to get my long training sessions in before work. This means that I can then at least pretend to have a social life in the evenings! Running is the hardest for me, as it’s not something I particularly enjoy. I’d much rather run in a group or run cross country than run miles and miles on a road.

Life back home

I’m originally from the Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney, although when I move back I’ll end up much closer to the beach. In fact I was so known for being a beach babe living year round in a bikini that when I told my friends 6 years ago I was moving to the UK they didn’t believe me and said I should be moving to Bali instead! So it’s fair to say I miss the weather and the outside lifestyle the most.
I do like England (it doesn’t rain as much as you think), but the cold weather definitely gets to me and really impacts my mood. I find that being outside helps – even if the weather is rubbish, as long as I get outside and do some exploring I can cope. I keep saying I’ll move back in a year and then something else pops along keeping me in the UK! Having travelled internationally quite a lot, Australia hands down has some of the best beaches in the world, which in my book makes it worth visiting!

On the menu

Right now I’m eating lots of Skyr yoghurt because of the high protein content and because it tastes great (it’s one of the only yoghurt I like in the UK). I tend to make my own energy balls for training/racing so I’ve got plenty of Mornflake oats, Wholeearth peanut butter and Green & Blacks cocoa powder in the cupboards. I’m a stereotypical fussy Australian coffee drinker (piccolo or cortado is my standard drink of choice), but I’ve been experimenting lately with TruStart coffee powder because of it’s guaranteed caffeine content. Not to drink, but I’ve been incorporating it into foods that I eat during races for a caffeine hit to improve performance! 


I’m always trying new foods and experimenting with different ideas (just see my Instagram feed for proof). In terms of popular foods, this does tend to vary by country as to whats popular! At the moment using sweet potato as toast seems to be a big thing. I’ve got the sweet potato in my cupboard…. just haven’t yet tried it myself! I tried smashed avo on toast with poached eggs the other day for the first time – I hated avocado when I was a kid!!!

Find our more about me here ->


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