UKC

/ Food

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BusyLizzie on 06 Jul 2018

I have been doing evening runs for obvious reasons recently. 

A few days ago I went out at bedtime and realised very quickly that I hadn't left long enough after eating - very uncomfortable, but it didn't make it impossible to run. Silly me, lesson learned.

But this got me thinking. It is easy enough to fuel a marathon on jelly babies and a banana after a good breakfast, at least at my modest pace, but for ultra distances more is needed - i'm thinking of that Nicky Spinks video where she has a hot meal in the middle of the night on the Bob Graham, and the Spine racers must do this. So they eat a proper meal and then get up and run. Does this come with training, or are ultra runners people who have naturally well-behaved and tolerant stomachs/guts (the latter in the literal sense)?

yorkshireman - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to BusyLizzie:

Combination of training and the fact that ultra runners are running a much lower pace. During a marathon I'll scarf down a gel while running a 4:20/km but during an ultra I'l stop at an aid station and eat a bowl of soup then set back off again at 7:30/km.

Equally during an ultra I'll use the uphills (so often walking) to eat on-the-go food.

> but for ultra distances more is needed

Well, overall yes - but calories per mile are probably lower. I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned in ultra running is you don't need to eat as much as you think you do. Also you can always boost your blood sugar with extra food if you're bonking, but it's harder to pull back from GI distress if you've over-eaten.

Rampikino - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to yorkshireman:

Good post.

It certainly depends on the event and how it is structured.  At the weekend I ran a 12-hour event as a pair.  We were doing 10km on and 10km off for the 12 hours.  This meant that we had a good hour at a time to rest and refuel.  It didn't take much - I'm a fan of the fruity flapjacks and electrolyte drink.

On other Ultras, eating on the go is more important and you need to experiment with what works for you.  I've found that small chunks of pork pie supplemented by gels works quite well.

The point about not needing as much as you think is a good one.  It's also important to note that the body can only absorb so many calories an hour, so just stuffing your face isn't necessarily the answer.  I think the approximate ratio is that you will use 4 times more calories than you can absorb in an hour - hence why you need a good brekker!

It's all very different for different people, but there's a lot to be learned here.

 

Moley on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to BusyLizzie:

On all big rounds I have helped support, solid food has been consumed. But generally the runner is walking (uphill) afterwards, by their nature support points are normally in a valley at a road crossing, so runner comes down one mountain, stops and eats and then begins an hour long walk up the next mountain. In most cases hard running immediately after a meal is unlikely.

kathrync - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to BusyLizzie:

> A few days ago I went out at bedtime and realised very quickly that I hadn't left long enough after eating - very uncomfortable, but it didn't make it impossible to run. Silly me, lesson learned.

My strategy has been to eat at lunch, have a relatively substantial snack (but not a full meal) at 4-5 pm, run around 8-9 pm and then have a small snack before I go to bed if I am hungry.  Seems to be doing the job (although as per your other thread, my runs are painfully slow and sore at the moment).  Looking forward to getting back to normal!

 

EuanM - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to BusyLizzie:

I ran the Mont Blanc 90km last Friday and suffered massively from not properly training my nutrition during training runs. 

I relied too heavily on tailwind and gels which eventually caused my stomach to shut down when I tried to eat some "proper" food at the half way aid station. 

Everything came back up and then anything I else I tried to squeeze in thereafter (other than water) got brought back up pretty much instantly. 

Left me with no energy in the 2nd half of the race. 

I don't have plan for fixing this just yet but I know I need to experiment with different real foods when out on training runs. 

yorkshireman - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

> I ran the Mont Blanc 90km last Friday and suffered massively from not properly training my nutrition during training runs. 

Did you make it round? I ran it last year and abandoned at Le Tour even though I made the time check by about 5 minutes. I was chronically dehydrated and it seemed to be almost as hot again this year.

> I relied too heavily on tailwind and gels which eventually caused my stomach to shut down when I tried to eat some "proper" food at the half way aid station. 

Obviously everyone is different but that's one of the reasons I try to eat as much real food as possible on races. It's a lot easier to be varied if something isn't working rather than the 'eggs in one basket' approach of something like tailwind. I also find that if your water intake is linked to your calorie intake then it's harder to adjust for the heat.

 

EuanM - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to yorkshireman:

We made it round in just over 23hrs. I was very close to dropping at Le Tour, lips were turning blue (apparently) and was feeling very spacey. Ironically, I got a slight boost after being sick when leaving the aid station. 

I think you're correct with regards to real food, I'll need to find what works for me. Tailwind was a bit of a lazy option and I wanted to believe the hype but unfortunately on that distance it didn't work. I think I'll still carry it in one of my bottles in the future but you can't beat drinking fresh water without a sickly taste. 

The little rubber cup I bought just before the race was a real lifesaver. Just drinking from streams and fountains gave me real boost. As did pouring cold water over my head. Despite the good weather we've had here I definitely wasn't adapted for running in those temperatures. 

 

yorkshireman - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

> We made it round in just over 23hrs.

Congratulations - it really is a monster course - reasonably short for an ultra which I think is deceptive. I'll be back for another go one day.

The New NickB - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to BusyLizzie:

Some people have iron stomachs, I’m not one of them. I like to leave at least 4 hours between eating and running.

I’m an advocate of the view that you shouldn’t need any fuel during a marathon, but I appreciate that I am fighting against a lot of marketing on that. It’s come from necessity for me, as I can’t run at marathon intensity and eat.

However, as you drop the intensity, the easier it becomes to eat. I get bored too easily to be a proper ultra runner, but I have done a bit and managed to fuel. For example, I ran the Mary Towneley Loop which is 47 miles and about 8,000’ of trails in the South Pennines. Aiming for a fairly sedate 5 miles an hour, I walked quite a lot of the hills taking on small amounts of food when walking (nuts, crisps, cereal bars) and didn’t have any problems.

Rampikino - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

> I’m an advocate of the view that you shouldn’t need any fuel during a marathon, but I appreciate that I am fighting against a lot of marketing on that. It’s come from necessity for me, as I can’t run at marathon intensity and eat.

I believe rule of thumb is that you should be fuelled for a half marathon just by eating normally.

A full breakfast before a marathon should give you the extra to see you through.

It does really depend on your pace and your own metabolism.

ive normally got through road marathons with just a few gels later in the race. 

Wainers44 - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to BusyLizzie:

As someone who has recently and comprehensively bombed on an ultra due to lack of food, the following works for me...

Eat a good fat and fuel filled brekky as close to start time as possible. Porridge isn't enough. If there is going to be more than 2 hours from breakfast to start then eat continuously through that time. Pork pies are good, ditto Baby bels, but only in winter. In summer the top ups need to be more heat resistant, such as bars, sarnies, etc. Ditto drinking as much as you can reasonably stomach.

Unless you are really going to push it, keep eating through the first 10 miles as you run. I find its a good way of keeping my uphill running to a sensible pace as eating and breathing require a certain low speed and equilibrium!!

Find the salt at the food stations. Crisps, chips, salty nuts, doesn't matter, but just make sure you get some. Gels don't work for me. I can puke for Britain anyway while running on normal food, without that gloopy sugary stuff. After 25 miles or so I feel less and less hungry, but if I have got it right I am normally fed and watered well enough to run a very long way by then.

Of course although I "know" all this works for me, But I have trouble remembering it. So when it gets forgotten it all gets rather messy (sick!).

BusyLizzie on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to all:

Lots to learn here thank you - food for thought! Whether i shall ever get beyond marathon distance remans to be seen, but it's all interesting.

 

KevinJ - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

Euan,  

Good effort on completing that one.  I did a couple of runs while I was there that week.  A bit too warm for my liking!

There was quite a drop out rate on that race, but still tempted for next year!

Huge credit to you for finishing under those conditions.

Kev

EuanM - on 06 Jul 2018
In reply to KevinJ:

Cheers Kev. I ran it with my wife. I suspect I would have been mentally a lot weaker if I’d had to do it on my own under the conditions.

Despite all the problems I’d highly recommend the race. It’s a fantastic atmosphere and extremely well organised. Support and cheering from the volunteers and locals really pushes you on. 

I would do it again but fancy trying a different course if I get the opportunity to race in Europe again. Lavaredo perhaps....

Ste Brom - on 07 Jul 2018
In reply to BusyLizzie:

I reckon ultrarunners have adopted a marathon fuelling strategy which is completely inappropriate given the pace we go, in part excerbated by marketing. 

Maintaining normal, smaller portions at normal meal times (on the hoof) with balanced grazing in-between and the tummy thanks me.

Just did lavaredo and lived off pasta and veggie stock, with prozis energy bars (marzipan like, with more fat than most) and trail mix, did the trick with no poorly belly.

That said, if you're absolutely tonking it, sugar sugar sugar and hope your arse doesn't drop off.


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