I couldn’t countdown to the event without a brief venture into event nutrition. At some time in everyone’s event this will have been their nemesis. Getting it wrong can result in dehydration, a variety of debilitating GI upsets like nausea, vomiting, stomach bloating, cramping, diarrhoea. There can be muscle cramps, weakness, fatigue and adverse impacts on your psyche – and can stop you completing.
We each need to find what works for us – often this is a lot of trial and error.
I’ve found getting my hydration and fueling right more difficult than any other aspect of my events. You think you have a formula that works and then the next event it doesn’t.
I take a bit of a scientific approach to my preparations. I know how far I’m going and have an idea of how long I’m going to be out there for. I know how many calories I need to the mile on the flat and how much that increases on serious hills (60% for me in this case). I also know my energy requirements on a totally sedentary rest day.
I know how much fluid I lose per hour when I run in training and how this changes with temperature.
If you want to try this for yourself then simply weigh yourself before and after your runs – do this periodically in different conditions and distances to build the picture.
Armed with this and knowledge of my route I can plan how much fluid and fuel I might need for each section. The basics are simply to fuel the engine but keep it topped up at all times. If you get behind, it’s really hard to catch up.
Fast runners often seem to exist throughout their events using only sports nutrition – I’m nearer the back of the pack at a much slower pace and can afford the luxury of real food.
There are calories and electrolytes in my fluid which I will drink regularly throughout the event providing baseline energy input. I will eat something regularly too from a selection of sweet and savoury normal food supplemented by sports nutrition where I feel I need it for extra hard hills (they’re all extra hard on the 62!)
At road support stops I will eat a proper meal. I also have a large selection of fruit, homemade cakes, cookies and rice pudding. Being a pesky vegan it’s not fair to ask the crew to cook for me so I batch cook things like vegan stroganoff and bolognese which are easy to heat up and have with rice or pasta. This is what I eat when I’m training so should be fine for the event. The mantra is ‘Nothing new on race day’ so everything I’m using will be tried and tested.
In the three days before the event I will optimise my glycogen stores by increasing my carbohydrate intake to around 10g per Kg body weight each day – that’s a nice lot of cake 😊