Monday, January 5, 2009

What to eat during an ultra race?

Nutrition is one of the most common topics discussed among endurance athletes.
Whether during training run, in the race, dinner table or pre-race parties’ nutrition is the hot topic comes to mind of anyone who is going to race. Sometimes is also one thing that most endurance athletes stress about.
I should say the world of endurance athletics is a very giving and blessing. Athletes love and gladly share their experiences, high and lows, success and failures.
I am one of the lucky one’s who benefited from the generosity of those giving folks.
Since I am often asked by so many folks out there I thought to share it will all.
I could honestly answer the question in a few words and names a few of products however after a few years racing I am still on my quest to find the right and best nutrition during long and excruciating exercise. Races are different and they factor in distance, terrain, climate, difficulty of the race, our health general (physical and mental) prior to race, goals, etc…...
Rule of thumb, we need and continue fueling during our endurance training or racing. Our body is only able to store limited amount of nutrient to supply our muscles during an exercise. As the level of exercise increases our body craves more nutrients in a shorter period of time. Obviously the need also depend on our body mass.
What helps me to start the race is a good healthy breakfast or later dinner loaded with carb, off course this depends on the start time.
The nutrition is an interesting and vast topic to cover and since I am not a nutritionist I won’t go further however in nutshell here are a few products that I always have them handy with me and have been successful:
Number 1 product Carbo-Pro
As an ultra runner with 5 races under my belt, 3 winners (two 50 Miles and 100K), 1 (50K) second and 1 third place (100K) what has worked for me is carbo-pro. What I like about carbo-pro it doesn’t upset my stomach; it has no flavor of its own. It can be mixed with other products, sports drinks of your choice or water. You can also mix your favorite electrolyte with it, small shake to dissolve. When I was racing marathon’s I was usually depleted after mile 22 but with introduction of carbo-pro to my nutrition, it has improved my race time and boosted my energy and I feet great crossing the finish line. Common Carbo-Pro product come in powder form, 1 scoop =112 calories or pre-made bottle in different flavors.
I mixed it sometimes for additional carb with Coke, this is good but I find out I crave for water after the mix. For folks live on the North and West Vancouver they could get this product at NorthShore Athletics

Defused coke
I use defused coke, I love the taste, enjoy caffeine and also instant sugar/energy. I also used it to keep me sharp throughout the race, I do hallucinate. Normally I open the can or bottle the day before the race and let it cool in the fridge. The night before the race I usually defuse it in a deep bowl or jar then fill up the bottle or camel back if I am going to race with it and am ready to go.

Thermolyte: Thermolyte is not just a salt pills but high-performance ELECTROLYTE
I find it very hard and frustrating to train months after months to prepare for important races and during race have to slow down due to muscles cramp.
There are numerous products (Endurolytes, Tablytes, Nunn, Eload, etc….) in the market consumed by endurance Athletes but what it suits my stomach is Thermolyte.
I don’t recall any competition that I raced without Thermolyte since I was introduced to it; this is a must ingredient in my endurance recipe.
I take them before, during and after the races to prepare, sustain and replenish electrolyte balance in order to maintain proper communication from brain to the muscles.

Power Gel
I used to mix it with fluid and it was Ok to digest until 40K into the race but after that my stomach would reject it. With some experiment I found out Gel by itself and sips of water work great.
Recently I have been using it in the beginning and at the end the race to boost the energy and maintain my pace to finish line.

Banana is great source of potassium which works greatly to balance out the sodium and potassium ratio.

Loaf of bread.
Olafson’s 12 grain whole wheat Double Risen from Costco. This bread has good amount of calories, Carb and sodium. Please read labels for ingredients in case you are allergic.

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