Ultra Runners


Race day nutrition (Read 78 times)

    This is also posted in the trailer trash forum, but I wanted to get some input from the folks who hang out here regularly as well.


    Race day nutrition is something I struggle with. I don't know if my race and long runs have suffered because I lacked fitness (likely) or if it was because my nutrition plan was deficient.


    Everyone has a different take on it and I wondered if you'd share the guiding principle (or gory details) of your approach to nutrition during the long runs and races.


    I only have one specific question. Do you feel hungry when you're racing?

    (I don't like feeling hungry, so I usually eat until I don't feel hungry. This is probably a mistake)


    for the record, in my last few adventures I've relied primarily on Hammer Perpeteum, random gels and Clif bars.

      Do I feel hungry when racing... generally, no.


      I struggled with nutrition as well in ultras. For years I would basically fill my bottle(s) with Gatorade or whatever the available carb drink was, drink whatever I felt like, and graze whatever munchies looked good at the aid stations. After missing my goal at Western States a couple years ago, I concluded that I'd overhydrated, and really had no idea of how many calories I was getting in.


      I read Waterlogged, and for the past two years I've followed Noakes' fueling and hydration advice, at marathons and ultras: 100 ml water + 10 g carbs every 10 minutes. That's basically 1/6th of a 20 oz bottle, and half a gel. I carry gels in a 6-gel flask with gradations on it (Hammer). So a water bottle lasts an hour, a gel flask two hours. I've gotten through 100s like this... the gel does get pretty old after 60 miles or so. But at least I am in complete control of what I'm getting.


      This has worked well for me so far.

        I get hungry if I get behind on food. I try to avoid that. Some foods are better at making me feel satisfied.


        I've only done up to 50mi. I tend to nibble on pemmican bars from REI (forget the brand) or ciif bars or shot bloks or trail mix or M&M's. I've used chocolate slimfast or milk along the way in some races. I'm not a heavy sweater so 20oz of fluid lasts about 2hr, more if cold. I have been hyponatremic (clear, copius pee) by drinking too much on cool, wet day. I dislike sweet stuff, and just last year discovered peanut butter GU. That gives me a more readily available form of calories if I get behind. But I think I've only used 1-2 packs in a 7hr or 10-hr race.


        For the 10-hr race (climbathon), we can have drop bags, and I had decided that turkey wraps (1/3 or 1/2) might be something good to have, based on watching people the year before eat sandwiches. Anyway, I got too busy in the race, that the wraps just seemed too heavy. (They had pasta dinner after the race, so didn't want them then either.) I'm considering a 24-hr race (not at all prepared) this spring on local trails, so am rethinking some of this.


        Most of my races don't have aid stations, so I generally depend on time-capsule suitable foods. The last year or so, one of my races does have aid stations, and I've discovered that orange slices hit the spot.

        "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

          Redacted because something very strange happened to my post....  more later!

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            Sometimes I get hungry even on medium runs (6-10mi), but the hunger often goes away as I keep running.


            I've also only gone up to 50.


            For me:

            - Below the marathon, nothing but water

            - In the marathon, water, a bit of whatever-ade, and try to remember to take gus

            - Above the marathon, eat & drink whatever I want. I always like coke. I usually like PB&J.


            Two weeks ago when I tried a 24hr (and only managed 60mi, and stopped at abt 14hr), I had a fair number of boiled eggs, a ham & PB sandwich (at least 8hr in), most of a hamburger from BK (at least 10hr in), and I can't remember what else.

            It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.


              No, usually don't get hungry. waiting till hungry would be a mistake, I think.


              I alternate cliff bars/blocks and gels, Bars/blocks once and hour gels once every 45 mins. After 50-60 miles I have to switch to just gels, can't stomach the bars anymore. I do like bhern's idea of constant gel intake.

                My approach is similar to Bhearn's.  I take a gel every 30 minutes but drink to thirst.  Usually grab a coke or a cookie at an aid station at least once per hour as well, so I'm probably somewhere in the 230-250 calorie per hour range.


                I agree with Gumbee, if you wait until you are hungry, it's probably too late.

                  good suggestions everyone. thank you.

                  I'm going to try a few new things based on this and some other advice I've got (mainly trying something like tailwind and relying more heavily on gels and sugary energy. something close to what bhearn is doing)


                  The problem with hunger (for me at least) is gels and drinks don't do anything to get the hunger feeling gone. I need something solid and carrying PB&J hasn't been very practical. But that's what training is for.

                  Trail Dog

                    I am running my first 100 in a few weeks. After experimenting at a few 50s, I've settled on 1 gel every 30 minutes then grazing on some easy to digest solid food at aid stations (boiled potatoes, banana, avocado). Drink when thirsty.


                    I've never had stomach issues, but I've never run more than 50 miles so it will be interesting to see how this plays out on race day.

                    The Goofinator

                      I haven't been in here in a long time, but I'll post my 2 cents worth:


                      Over the past almost 3 months, I've been doing the metabolic efficiency training, which means, along with low HR training, increasing proteins and fats and cutting out grain carbs.  Not ALL carbs, just grain carbs.  This is NOT low carb eating.  All fruits and veggies are available.  I also started using UCAN on my runs.  For any runs that are around 3 hrs or less, I generally am eating almond butter, Babybel cheeses, and nuts/raisins and drinking regular water when I'm thirsty.  I re-up on the UCAN around the 2-hr mark.  When I am running over 3 hrs, I start to integrate carbs, mostly in Aussie Bites because I like them, their easily transportable, and are an easy130 calories.


                      I have found by going this route that I am no longer experiencing bloating or nausea, and I don't get as hungry.  I haven't run a 50-miler in almost 2 years because of an injury last year, so I have yet to try this new program in a race.  However, this coming weekend I will be doing a 3-day, 71-mile weekend with a 50k race on Monday (25/15/31).  It'll be my first chance to really try this out and see how it goes.  I am, however, very optimistic given how things have gone in training.  (FYI - I'm a solid back of the pack runner.)


                      Of note, however, is the fact that it has taken my body about 8 weeks to get completely on board with the MET.  I've had some difficult LRs as my body has adjusted to burning more fat for fuel and not relying so heavily on carbs.  I think it's going to be worth it, though.  My goal race is Mt. Hood 50 in July, so I still have some time to perfect everything.


                      Good luck ~

                      Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain


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