Hey fellow runners and supporters! Continuing on from my last update, there’s still no more news – good or bad – from the Physio, but I should know soon what the verdict is…nervous times at the moment I tell you! For now, though, all I can do is comply with their recommendations: a little bit of non-impact cross-training, daily stretching/ foam-rolling and a whoooole lot of resting! As some of you may know, the tapering leg of training is difficult enough but an injury on top of this certainly takes this frustration to the next level!
In a previous blog a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that during my 50km peak training run, one of my main objectives was to confirm that the nutrition plan that I had been developing throughout training would be suitable for longer distances (i.e. beyond my previous max distance of 44km for the 80km race itself). Now that I know it works, I’ll give you a rundown of what it involves!
Similar to my equipment review/ rundown, I have a short disclaimer before we get in to it. All I ask is that you understand our opinions and bodies are completely different. Use the information that follows as a reference or template, not as the final solution; what works for one person will not always work for another. It is modeled around conditions of a “standard day”, and (if required) I will alter it to the conditions of the day (e.g. if there are extreme temperatures, etc.).
Out to marathon distance (on the road), the body is able to cope with a poorly designed nutrition plan. In fact, you can consume little to nothing and still finish such an event – you just won’t be operating at peak performance. Beyond that however, the body and its gastrointestinal system can be a bit temperamental, so it’s important to thoroughly test and adjust different varieties and quantities of fuels prior to the big day. Too many or too few carbohydrates/ electrolytes/ fluids could mean that you DNF, develop hyponatremia/ hypernatremia, or worse.
I have read a lot of James Kuegler’s articles (published online) and he raises some very valid points around the consumption of natural fuels. In the long term, I would like to transition towards eating “real-foods” as I agree there are huge benefits, however I have to remember that this is my first serious race and in reality, I’m still a rookie. Therefore, I have decided to experiment with “artificial” fuels with known nutritional values first and will leave the analysis of nutritional information to the experts – for now. Rightly or wrongly, I kind of like that instead of eating a massive banana. I can get roughly the same number of carbs out of a 40gr pouch that’s the size of my thumb. Gels are small, light and don’t turn to mush after an hour in the back of my vest! I’m aware that fueling for 10-15 hours using artificial foods may have its adverse effects, so I will be sure to have some “real-foods” in my drop-bag on the day, but it seems to be working fine thus far!
To operate at peak performance, I will consume food and fluids during any run over 90-minutes. Before a run, I will generally (depending on what time of day it is) have a good-sized carb-based meal anywhere between 60-minutes and three hours beforehand. This will be low in protein and fibre and have the equivalent of 3-4 slices of bread or around 1.5-2 cups of pasta/ rice/ potato. This gets me through to the 45-minute mark of my runs, at which point I will start refueling. Depending on the conditions that I am expecting during the run, I will sometimes pre-load my Sodium stores by mixing 1g salt in a small glass of water and consume it about an hour before I’m due to set off.
Here’s what my 73kg body aims to consume per hour… (can you tell I’m a nerdy numbers guy?!)
-60gr carbohydrates (or 90gr if using Powerbar products, as they have a patented glucose/ fructose blend which enables the body to metabolise 50% more carbs each hour, meaning that you have more energy available and conserve muscle glycogen: extremely useful in endurance events). As a side note, I never consume more than 100 calories at a time, otherwise I start to feel full/ bloated. I try and eat at the “top-of-drop” or during the descent if I can, as my heart-rate will be lower – Our stomachs are (supposedly!) better at metabolising food when it is below ~160bpm.
-500-750mg Sodium per hour.
-Very little protein, only about 20% of my calorific intake once I’m over the 4-hour point.
-Drinking to thirst from the minute I start running, or even beforehand (if practical). With that said, generally speaking, the body won’t consume more than 500-750ml of water per hour so I never really take more than this; I never feel like I need it anyway. I always carry a small 400ml reserve, but if I somehow need more than that then I’ll find a refill point or suitable stream/ river for uplift.
This is all met by consuming one gel (Powerbar or GU) every 30 minutes from the 45 to 60-minute mark, and mixing 1 serving of Hammer Perpetuem with each serving of water. Simple!
As far as supplements go, each day I take one Centrum multivitamin, 1500mg Glucosamine & 400mg Chondroitin (usually found in the same tablets), and 3000mg of Fish Oils. If I know that I am going to be running for several hours, then I will also take a 100mg NoDoz (caffeine) tablet (found at the supermarket) 30 minutes prior to the run and ensure that I throw a couple of caffeinated gels into my vest to have along the way. I only consume these when I start skimming the top of tree roots/ getting fatigued, NOT as a stimulant. Your hydration has to be pretty on-point for them to work effectively, otherwise you’re better off without them!
Hopefully you’ve found that somewhat helpful. As I say, use this as your guide and not your bible as so many factors can influence nutritional needs.