Nutrition Tips for Ultra Runners
Nutrition Tips for Ultra Runners
Ultra runners often train really diligently but are
let down by missing just a few key basics of nutrition. Or the plan they used
for a 2 hour race simply won't see them through those longer events in good
shape. Even if you are an experienced ultra runner, there are probably a
few simple changes you can make to your nutrition plan in training and on race
day that will improve your race day experience.
Most people seem to be able to comfortably consume and absorb 300-500ml fluid
per hour. Runners of smaller stature need less than larger athletes, and
weather conditions are also an important factor. The longer we go, the
less forgiving the body is if we get our fluid intake wrong, and I’m sure most
of us have experienced dehydration and the nasty feeling that goes with it, at
some stage in our athletic endeavours.
That said, it is also important not to consume too much fluid as this
can be equally as dangerous. In most
usual NZ weather conditions, consuming more than 750ml per hour should NOT be
necessary. Its not only important how
much fluid we consume, but also what it is that we are consuming. We strongly recommend that you have fluid
that doesn’t contain calories eg water with 1-2 Endurolytes Fizz per750ml, as often your stomach will need a rest
from calories but still needs to keep the fluids coming in. If you have sports drink mixed into your
fluids, then you are unable to do this.
If you like your water unflavoured, then use plain water and a couple of
Endurolyte Capsules per hour.
We recommend Perpetuem as the main fuel of choice
for endurance events where the heart rate is mostly expected to be below 75%
MRH and run time will exceed 3 hours. And
while you need to experiment in training, we find most people only need ½ - 1
scoops or 1-3 Perpetuem Solids per hour to fulfil ALL
their calorie needs. Perpetuem differs from the traditional gels and
sports drink in that it contains a little protein which helps reduce muscle
soreness, and a little fat, which will help you to feel full. It is an economical option for fueling, both
in terms of cost and weight that needs to be carried - your fuel for most
events will fit into a couple of flasks carried in your pocket. But don't
then start adding in bars, bananas, fruit cake etc or you will find yourself
well and truly overfed. If you prefer to use Hammer Gels then 1-3 per hour,
depending on your size should be sufficient.
We strongly recommend that you stay away from products that contain a
lot of simple sugar ie those ending in –ose: sucrose, fructose, glucose. In
simple terms, we can consume them faster than we can absorb them and their use
increases your chance of the dreaded stomach distress. Its like trying to run after eating a couple
of bars of chocolate! Sugars will also give
you highs and lows, not something you want during an endurance event. If you are going to hit the trusty coke in
the last hour or so of your event, then make sure you have practised this in
training, and don’t consume too much!
Electrolytes and Cramping
Cramp seems to be the biggest limiting factor for many athletes. It is
incredibly frustrating if you have trained well, are primed for a great race,
then it all falls apart. So what can you do to minimise the chances of
cramp? It’s an article all on its own but here are a few pointers to
Correct fluid intake. See above.
Specificity of training. If you usually train at x intensity then
come race day you are running at y intensity then chances are you going to have
some issues. Include some intensity in your training that simulates what
you experience in racing. Make sure that
your training terrain replicates as best as possible what you will experience
on race day. Doing all your training on
road, then doing an event that’s off road is likely to be asking for trouble.
Correct caloric intake. See above.
Insufficient electrolytes. Electrolyte requirements differ
significantly between individuals so it can be tricky to judge. We
recommend taking a couple of Endurolytes per hour or put an Endurolytes Fizz in each water bottle. Always carry extra Endurolyte capsules on
long training sessions and during races.
Too much simple sugar. See above.
Keep your muscles in good
order. Knots in calves and tight quads aren't going to help you not to
cramp. Find yourself a good massage therapist and treat those legs to a
rub, or do them yourself.
If you aren't sure how much you should be using of what, or which products
would be best, send me an email, including your weight and
ballpark time (this just tells how hard you are likely to be running) and we'll
send you a suggested fuel plan.
You can download a PDF of this article here