Having recently completed nearly 22 hours of continuous movement, that resulted in 90 miles of distance covered, I have been getting a lot of questions in regards to my nutrition during this event. Because of all the requests, I decided to share with you all.
Unlike for a marathon where everyone tries to carbo load leading up the the race, to ensure their glycogen levels are high. There is not much need for this practice during an ultra. Essentially, because of the paces you are running during a 100 mile event is at such a slower pace, relative to a marathon and because you will be eating quite a bit on the go (or should be), you really won’t have to worry much about glycogen depletion.
In a typical marathon, you must rely on the on course gels and or drink provided by the race or, some people carry their own gels, sport beans, gummies, or, whatever it is you fancy to get you through to the finish without bonking (running out of glycogen).
For the 24 hour event, I was running laps around a local 400 meter track, thus, I could essentially have a Golden Corral buffet set up out there had I wanted to, because I was always within close proximity to my fuel supply.
10 days out from the race, I made sure my diet was consisting of nearly nothing but fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts and lots and lots of hydration. I also started a loading cycle of several key amino acids as well. Aside from just ensuring my body stayed fueled with calories, I wanted to ensure that my body stayed supplied with the amino acids and electrolytes it would need during the run, but also to keep the tanks filled so that post run recovery was much quicker.
The night before the race, I went with a pre race favorite of Pho. This is an amazing Vietnemese rice noodle soup. I choose Pho over the traditional pasta choice of many runners, for several reason. 1.) It has no gluten, thus, it keeps my stomach happy. 2.) A large bowl of this Pho has 20+ ounces of broth that is loaded with sodium. 3.) It is served with a generous amount of fresh basil and, if you are unaware, basil has high amounts of vitamin A, calcium and magnesium. It is also a very good natural anti-inflammatory and works in the same fashion as NSAIDS. 4.) Pho is also packed with a high amount of carbohydrates via the rice noodles.
The morning of, I awoke at 5:45 am to start preparing for my 9:00am start time. At 6:00, I had a mint chocalate chip SR bar (www.SRbars.com), which provided me with a quick 300 calories, 20 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbs and 10+ grams of fat.
Throughout my buildup for this event, I had been training my body to burn primarily fat vs. glycogen because well, I wouldn’t be relying much on glycogen based on the paces I would be running/walking. Not to go into to great of scientific detail but, the body prefers to burn fat as it’s primary fuel, particularly over long distances. The average person can only stock 2000-3000ish calories worth of glycogen (most of which is used for brain function). Once that stock is burned through, the body starts going a bit buggy and all sorts of bad things can happen. So, in order to avoid this, the person much either continue pouring glycogen, in the form of some outside, down their throats in order to keep the glycogen levels up and thus, avoid the dreaded “bonk”. However, if you can get your body burning a higher ratio of fat to glycogen, you can push back the rate of glycogen expenditure, therefore extending your capacity of continued movement.
Once the run got started at 9:00am, my nutrition looked like this for the most part (aside from an extra calorie or two here and there)
Within each hour (for first 12 hours) : I would consume 300-400 calories per hour (gradually throughout the hour) in the form of bites of fruit (watermelon, cantalope, grapes) and via sips of a bottle of a mixture of 12 ounces lemonade and a scoop of Generation UCAN (230 calories per bottle).
Every hour – 2 tablets of Homeostasis Electrolytes (www.homeostasiselectrolytes.com).
Every 2 hours – 500mg Taurine, 500mg L-Glutamine, 500mg L-Arginine, 500mg L-Carnitine, 500mg Rhodiola
Every 4 hours – 4g L-Leucine, 1g L-Isoleucine, 1g L-Valine
12 HOURS AND BEYOND:
FOOD/CALORIES – Same as above, with the exception of 1 8oz of Red Bull at 10:00pm and one at 2:00 am. Also had a cup and a half of straight black coffee during this time. During the last 10 hours of the run, I relied primarily on my liquid calorie drink mentioned above, lots of aqueous fruits and 3 handfuls of kettle cooked potato chips.
Once the sun went down, I continued with the electrolyte tabs but at a rate of 2 tables ever two hours. I kept all other supplements and amino acid intake the same.
As stated before, aside from the swelling of the ankle, I had no muscle or joint soreness anywhere else to speak of. I believe that the proper nutrition/supplement plan is what really prevented me from getting beat up over my entire body and I believe it is what kept me going the entire time with no “bonk” or GI problems.