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Training fuel – not all about the cake

44 days to go

A frequent discussion is what to eat when training and taking part in events. The question pops up as often as which are the best trail shoes, waterproof or rucksack. The answers are unsurprisingly numerous as we are all unique individuals, there are many options available and our preferences will vary depending upon many factors.

When training and racing, food becomes fuel and drink becomes hydration.  The most important factors to consider include an understanding of your likely needs for the length and intensity of the session you are about to undertake and the foodstuffs that are comfortable on your stomach and don’t cause gastric distress. This knowledge is best gained through experience of trying different things out in training.  People often find that over greater distances their tastes change so it’s important to have a variety of items available, sweet, savoury, high calorie, treat. And, for each of these a range from solid to liquid as it can be difficult to deal with drier foodstuffs when you’ve been going for a few hours. Then there is a whole range of technical hydration and energy fuels and foodstuffs including gels of one sort or another, flapjacks, bars and energy powders with electrolytes to go in your water.

In training for the most part I maintain as close to a normal diet as possible including the times of day that I eat.  It’s not very exciting but I will take sandwiches and fruit loaf which I always eat and carry an energy bar or two in case my session is extended or I find myself a bit peckish. It’s rare for me to eat these extra items. I have electrolyte tabs in my fluid. In the colder weather I have carried a flask of hot chocolate which as a nice warming treat.

However, a couple of weeks before an event, I start training my body to eat little and often during my training sessions and use a variety of the fuel I will be using on the event. I will also use a hydration fuel in my fluid.  Research suggests that optimally we need to consume between 240 and 300 Kcalories and hour during events.  Alongside the kcalories in my fluid, my fuel choices include flapjacks, savouries like sandwiches, fruit and nut mix, fruit cake, orange, banana and energy bars amongst others. On long events if the checkpoints provide food and on my 62@62 where I will have a crew at road support points, I will have normal meals and hot drinks and carry out a hot drink in a flask during the night if cold.

What’s your favourite training and event food?

 

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