Part Four. When you run an ultramarathon, you need to eat. And drink (but not beer!). What kind of fuel does your mind and body need in order to survive running for hours on end? Here are some guidelines for a successful race. #1) Me vs You. Remember what your body likes might be different from what my body likes. Every Body Is Different.
#2) Test! Use [long] training runs to try out your real food strategy. And don't forget times. Timing is critical to making sure you prevent bonking, cramps, digestion issues and fatigue.
#3) Fluids. There are many fluids on the market. I admit it is hard to make sense of them all. One thing you always want to keep in mind is stay clear of any drink that has HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) in it. By now you know that I don't recommend sports drinks and processed "foods". Your body needs real nutrients, not fake fillers. For example, Gatorade is made with petroleum (from the artificial coloring dyes) which are linked to many health problems and diseases. Look for fluids that are natural and don't have added sugar and food dyes. A brand new organic hydration fluid on the market is GoodonYa Hydrate.
Tip: Don't guzzle water/fluids at one sitting. Hydrate during the entire training run (or ride) and race. Don't over hydrate. Don't under hydrate. Find your sweat rate to figure out how much fluids you need to be drinking.
#4) Tart Cherry Juice. If you haven't seen the recent research information, then you'll want to perk up & read this. Research suggests that consuming cherries (particularly tart cherries) helps with inflammation/joint pain, and aids in recovery. A natural way to manage pain! Personally I mix some Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate in my water bottle.
Tip: Consume a healthy protein (and some healthy carbs) within 30 minutes of finishing a long run/workout.
#5) (Real) Food. This is what separates boys from the men, the Nemo's from the Dora's and the marathoners from the ultramarathoners. For longer distances, you need substance. And by substance, I don't mean donuts. Nice try though!
During an ultramarathon you'll be running for probably at least 5 hours and up to 48 hours at one time so eating a variety of different foods will help keep your energy up as well as give you something to look forward to when you see your crew! Savory, salty and sweet foods are the typical categories.
For savory foods it could be plant-based potato soup (perfect after running 15 hours and it's cold at night!), or an organic sprouted grain sunflower butter+raw honey+organic cinnamon+organic ginger sandwich (so good- and anti-inflammatory!). Some salty real foods include potatoes dipped in sea salt (personally this is usually my go-to food) or a banana, organic soy sauce on organic brown rice balls, sweet potatoes with sea salt. The body needs some sugar while running ultramarathons. But the right kind of sugar. This would be in the category of organic fruit: red grapes, cherries, watermelon (one of my favorites), oranges, bananas, dates, dried fruit.
TIP: Aim for 300 calories per hour when running an ultramarathon.
The key to nutrition while on the run is to find what works for you. Avoid processed foods at all costs (you don't want to put your body under more stress by having it to digest toxins). Don't cram hydration. Don't eat everything in sight. Run and eat and fuel smart.
Part Five will cover training.