/ Nutrition over longer distance
Hi, I hope this isn’t a common thread as I don’t hang around here very often.
I’m pushing my distance running and I have got to the threshold of distance that I can run just off the bat with no thought of special meals beforehand.
So what I would like to know is what do you eat the night before/ the day of a big run to hold off the floppy undernourished feeling?
How far are you running over what kind of terrain and how fast?
What do you mean by longer distance?
For some they might mean 10-12 miles for others it means hundreds....
Ah sorry I just assumed hungry is hungry ! Running 30-40k over rough ground. Think AL fell races. And speed not that fast probably 5 and and a half or 6min/k.
See other reply, thanks
> Ah sorry I just assumed hungry is hungry ! Running 30-40k over rough ground. Think AL fell races. And speed not that fast probably 5 and and a half or 6min/k.
That pace would put you pretty high up the field if not in fact winning many AL fell races!
Yeah that’s over shorter distances around 20k non A. Now I’m trying to do much longer harder stuff I don’t really know. Sorry for being unclear.
As I've run more and got fitter I've found I actually eat less on long runs. The night before (both for big training runs or races) I'll just eat a regular dinner and have a couple of slices of toast or porridge or a tin of rice pudding (if I'm camping!) for breakfast. Breakfast is usually 2 hrs before the race. Races below 2hrs I generally don't eat. 2-4 hrs all I'll take is a couple of gels. 4-8hrs and I'll take some cereal bars as well. 8hrs+ and I'll be thinking about some proper food like a sandwich at some point. On long training runs I don't tend to use gels (unless I crash) as they're pretty nasty on the whole, I eat bars instead.
The longer you are out and the slower you go, the more real, savoury food is the way to go. Though don't discount the sugar for occasional pep ups and fat because it's great kcal to weight ratio and improved mouth feel and ease of eating.
That's the message from my ultra buddies in terms. What works for each of them differs and comes down to experimentation.
One loves boiled potatoes with salty butter. Another eats bagels.
They aren't winning races, so if that's your aim maybe someone more experienced at winning might give some clues.
For what you are talking about 4-7 hours, its food you can eat in the go without too much stress.
I made the mistake of using gels for that length race. Didn't suit me at all. Two days of runny tummy... More solid food works of you can eat it put of a plastic bag without your fingers getting too sticky and without the need for too much water with it, so you don't choke.
That is to the word exactly what I have tried today on a 30k route recce and I didn’t feel great (severe weather and nav issues probably added to it). I think I need to focus more on what I take with me, and of course more training. Thanks!
Yeah I think it’s the food I have with me that might need the adjustment as I have never needed to carry food before. I’ll try some savoury stuff next time and figure out how much I can eat on route without feeling it. Gels have never looked too appealing to me but I have never actually used one during exertion, worth a one time try I suppose. Thanks!
Gels are minging but at race pace they're all I can stomach and they really seem to work.
> Gels are minging but at race pace they're all I can stomach and they really seem to work.
I was never all that happy with gels. I loved infinit nutrition's customisable liquid nutrition system, and whilst contemplating getting back into long distance training recently I was disappointed to discover they no longer operate in the UK.
If I do go back to it, I'll be tempted to buy bulk powders and work out my own isotonic formulas.
For longer distances (25km+ for me) I will take a sausage roll with me, less than that cereal bars. Over 40km+ a sausage roll and some pizza (occasionally dominos, so bad for you, but I like the taste!). Solid foods, lots of fats and salts, but then you need to think about fluids to offset it too. Fine on organised runs as there will be water on the way around (and often food too).
I'm terrible at running and really slow but when I was training for the short Lakes 10 Peaks last year I experimented with hummous and olive wraps, cut into bits, after reading about them in Scott Jurek's book. They work pretty well as they're moist, salty and savoury, as well as being fairly indestructable in the pocket of a rucksack, and they hit the spot when you don't want any more sugary stuff (for me, anything over about 4-5 hours).
I find a mix of gels, bars, biltong and cold roast potatoes works for anything up to shorter ultras. After that I have to add scotch eggs
This way I have sweet and savoury/quick and slow release on tap to suit my mood and the terrain.
Add in plenty of water and all is well, especially as it's all well tested in training...
I find the key to avoiding feeling nauseous or running out of fuel on long races or training runs is to eat a decent breakfast (porridge, bagel or similar) and start eating early on the run.
I would never normally eat on a run of less than 90 - 120 minutes but if I'm going to be moving for several hours on a long race I start eating after around 30 minutes and then just keeping eating little bits of food about every 30 minutes or so.
It's probably a bit trial and error to find what works for you, but I'd recommend avoiding gels and the like and taking food that you actually like as you'll be much more inclined to eat it
That actually sounds very good, I could eat that right now. Savoury is definitely a recurring theme. Cheers
Thanks, i will try this too.
As you increase the distance and time on your feet you will find that what works for you, what you desire and what you can stomach will change and often surprise you. The only way to really know is to experiment.
I've been running ultras for years now but still am discovering new things. During the CCC last year I made these savoury rice balls from Jason Koop's excellent book and found they really did the trick. Half the battle is having something that won't get crushed, go splodgy/melt and you can get into easily when tired, possibly in the dark and not in the best frame of mind.
Another thing and I think it might have been mentioned is that when you're first getting into running long distances its very easy to overeat, which will cause GI distress. As the distance goes up and your pace inevitably goes down, the number of calories/carbs you need isn't as high as you think. Pay more attention to hydration as its much easier to come back from a bonk by a quick intake of carbs/sugar than it is to come back from dehyration. Of course don't overhydrate
I think dehydration is one to watch too as even after long runs i dont feel like i need water although i probably do. Easy to get out of the packet is a good one, smashing through frozen puddles and hail effects your finger dexterity quite severely i have found. Very useful advice thankyou.
Can't pretend to have found the solution to this myself - it's probably quite personal, but on my limited experience of ALs, and observing runners around me (especially those (there's lots of them) that run away from me in the latter stages of long races, I'd echo what Dave said here.
Only difference for me is that I eat loads normally so I'd have a bit more than that for breakfast (large bowl of porridge maybe), but get up earlier and have it 3 hours before the race starts. Also don't take much water in races, often just a few sips worth but in a wide topped bottle that I can top up from a stream if needs be. A small amount of isotonic powder (as Ciro suggests) or even just a handful of salt in the water you take can be really helpful too.
I find getting the balance right for AL (or even tough AM) races is really quite hard. They're not like ultras at all in my experience (maybe Wasdale is long enough, but I've not done that), as you're always working too hard to eat properly. I've tried taking more than the above before (cereal bars/nuts/ella's kitchen babyfood) and that didn't work for me - stomach cramps aren't conducive to a good race. I always feel like I'm about to bonk 2/3rds into any race over 90mins/2hrs and really it's just about gritting the teeth and trying hard. I find it's all too easy to ease off, and eating doesn't help, in fact because you've got to slow down to rummage around for extra food and get water down it's hard to get going again after.
My advice (which I should probably take myself!) is to make sure your long runs are quite intense, or at least have some sustained intense running in the 2nd half of them, to get used to what it feels like trying hard 2 hours into a 3 hour fell race.
As someone who struggles with intestinal issues, I would say Tailwind is the best solution I have come up with.
I did my first ultra last June and did that mostly on gels and cake. I got really bored of eating sweet stuff by mile 30. Though I did have a small sausage roll at the 19mile mark.
> As someone who struggles with intestinal issues, I would say Tailwind is the best solution I have come up with.
I take it that's a brand of something and not the unpleasant outcome of your intestinal issues for those behind you in a race
I've never tried it and I don't run long distances - so in other words my suggestion is baseless - but would Huel potentially be something worth considering?
I'm not a runner but a road cyclist (why would I bother runnng around when I own a very nice bike?) and over the years I've experimented with various endurance foods, starting with dried bananas and progressing to Complan shakes, which are great if you are carrying overnight food. Then on a 5 day walk in Canada going on pasta and Cup-a-Soup I realised that Complan and powdered soups are nothing more than maltodextrin with flavourings, so I started buying pure maltodextrin powder from Myprotein.com. I mix about 2 fingers of this in my 75cl drink bottles, adding half an electrolyte tab in hot weather and two bottles of this gives me sufficient top-up energy for a 100 mile ride. The only down side is that in common with most people in their 50s and 60s my body is producing less of the enzyme required for digestion of carbs so I fart dreadfully an hour or so after finishing the ride.
> As I've run more and got fitter I've found I actually eat less on long runs.
That would make sense from a physiological perspective, as you raise your aerobic threshold to the point that your body can sustain itself from fat stores, even moving at a reasonable pace.
My standard pre race meal is a pizza.
Breakfast two pieces of toast, one with jam, one with honey. coffee with a small amount of milk, I reduce dairy intake the day before and day off especially.
Then when running gels if less than 4 hours, then bananas, coke, gatorade.
Pasta the night before.
Toast and Jam or rice pudding about 2/3 hours before race / long run (fellrace AL or 30/40 training run)
Kendal mint cake during run (eat on the steep uphill a bit at a time) some like jelly beans.
5 pepperami, 2 bananas, 6 mini Baby Bell, 3 large pizzas, 10 paracetamol, 4 cans of Coke,4 muller rice, 10 medium chocolate bars, about 1kg flapjack, 18 gels mostly caffeine and 3 bags of crisps washed down with about 15l of water mostly with electrolyte in.
That's what I had on the Ramsay last year. I was stuffed by the end. I had another pizza but couldn't manage it. As others have suggested the key for me is to start eating early on. So after the first hour I eat something every 20 mins until the end. I figure that if I do have problems at any point there's a good chance I'll have taken enough in already to fuel me through.
Surprised you could even move.
Wasn't Adrian Belton known as Adrian "gutbucket" Belton for the same reason? Worked for him, shoveled the food in from the start and kept going, I'm also a fan of pizza on distance runs!
Apologies if I'm slandering AB, but sure I heard that in the distant past somewhere.
Mate is doing the Ramsey this year (done the BG, PB and Meiri rounds), goes well on faggot sandwiches proving that you just have to find what works for you and go with it.
I do like the sound of this approach. Might get into ultras just for the diet.
After years of trying I have settled on the following strategy:
Less than 4 hours: gels and water
4-8 hours: alternate water and carbohydrate drink (such as Tailwind) + energy bars + coke if available
8-24 hours: the above + sandwiches (sweet and savoury) + soup (if available) + salty crackers + coke
Breakfast before the run is ussually toast and tea. Fairly light. I avoid milk.
I find that in long races, especially in hot weather, there is a point when I feel quite bad stomach wise. Some sparkling drink, preferably coke folowed by some burping helps me with this.
Also, I have had good experience with non-alcoholic beer, but that's not available at most races.
I find it almost impossible to burp! But almost flat fizzy drinks are good -though I prefer a mineral water or (alcoholfrei) beer to coke. Erdinger is faaaar to fizzy initially though...
> Erdinger is faaaar to fizzy initially though...
I find plain Lager works best.
I have actually had normal beer (with alcohol) towards the end of a long race and that went down surprisingly well.
Speaking from experience of doing long bike events and ultras there is no correlation in nutrition between the two for me, i can ride all day and eat all day without an issue, last ultra i did i physically couldn't eat after about 30 miles, which made the last 10 pretty dire as my stomach decided to reject anything i tried to put in it, including water, being on the last 1000M vertical climb in the middle of the nigh spewing every 100M is not a pleasant experience !
I had a hangover in 4 minutes by having a small beer after a 3 hours training run. :-/
I've had real ale at checkpoints on 25ish mile events, but not racing on them. Actually I found it a most pleasant experience for a couple of miles after a swift pint, just gently scampering along the trails feeling slightly distant, but no I wouldn't want to be seriously racing on beer.
Beer is a pretty good recovery drink but the gas and the acidity make me uncomfortable if I drink it while exercising.
On my very first LDWA 100 I was given a glass of Jail Ale, Dartmoor's finest at Princetown at 0700 on day 2. Mile 60 ish.
I cannot begin to describe how much pleasure came from such a small amount of beer!!
> Ah sorry I just assumed hungry is hungry ! Running 30-40k over rough ground. Think AL fell races. And speed not that fast probably 5 and and a half or 6min/k.
I think I should be taking advice from you and not the other way round!
This is one of those moments where you either get it right or learn the hard way. On long-distance it's generally: Carbs to go first then your fats & then your muscle. I was watching one ultra-seminar a while back and i was surprised to hear that the average joe (athlete version) can run 400-500 miles on 4% body fat so that to me was enough to flip my body into fat burning.... you just have to get your body to the right state to create the flip and remain healthy. Running distance on carbs is absolutely stupid and very damaging to long-term health. Granted it is needed to trigger aerobic excercise but unless it is a plant-sourced carb - it rots you from inside out when you're running. Constant sugar infusion makes your body highly acidic and it's full enough with run-toxins it sends you on a bad trip. Fruit sugars, plant-based proteins & plant-carbs are all i look at when i'm going distance - as it's the only way you can repleish your fuel stores AND replenish your conductive minerals. It's great you're going distance but your thread tells me, you need a sports nutrition book from the library. Mother nature provides everything. Oh yeah SALT is essential. (not table salt though)
Hi there. Just out of interest, what exactly is the difference between fruit sugars and every other sugar, and likewise with table salt and 'other' salts? Really interested in this. All the best. Tom.
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