Eating tips before the race

From: running training tips

Sports Nutrition for the Ultramarathon

Establishing the right sports nutrition fueling protocol is critical for maximum ultramarathon performance. Many ultra runners will tell you their success comes as much from making the right nutritional decisions before and on race day, as doing the right volume and type of training.

Your running training is all in the bank on race day, but sports nutrition is where you can improve the most, or conversely, cause problems that will cost valuable minutes or hours, or even lead to a DNF. Thus, ultra runners need a sound working knowledge of the complex subtleties of fueling nutrition, as well as a solid background in ultra training techniques.

Maintaining an adequate fluid and food intake during an ultramarathon is as much an art as a science. Experienced ultra runners will tell you that the best way you can prepare your gastrointestinal system for the fueling challenges of ultra races is by practicing during training, under simulated ultra conditions, and during shorter training runs.

Every ultra runner has his own special nutritional requirements that he has to establish through trial and error. Human taste and absorption rates are highly individualized. Novice ultra runners need to realize that if raisins work for one runner, they may have the opposite effect on another, so the wise athlete will try a variety of carbohydrate rich foods and fluids to determine their personal preference and tolerance.

Pre-Race Sports Nutrition

The effects of tapering combined with carbohydrate loading have been examined in several hundred studies since the 1980’s, to the point where there is no longer much ongoing research into this procedure anymore, except on fine tuning issues of dosages, etc. We appear to have some definitive answers to our questions and most experienced runners have established protocols based on these conclusions.

Generally, runners who maintain a diet of about 60-70% carbohydrates for at least four days (and follow a tapering program for at least a week) before their event will boost the glycogen stores in their liver and muscle tissue to a level about twice as high as during normal training and normal diet. This supercompensation effect results in significant improvements in the marathon of up to 15 minutes in the marathon and much greater time improvements in ultra races.

The ultra runner can estimate his desired carbohydrate intake more precisely by calculating 8-10 grams of carbohydrate/kilogram/day. For example, a 72-kilogram (154 pound) runner should take aboard 576 to 720 grams of carbohydrates/day.

Sports Nutrition During the Race

Renowned sports nutritionists Nancy Clark says, “The two primary goals of feeding the ultraendurance runner during the event are to maintain normal hydration and to maintain normal blood glucose levels”. Seasoned ultra runners will tell you to eat before you get hungry, and drink before you’re thirsty—you need to start eating and drinking very early in the race. These are two of the golden rules of ultra running. The basic rule is that the longer the race, the slower you go, and the more you eat.

Solid Foods

Start taking in carbohydrates right from the start, and at regular intervals, to help you conserve the glycogen that you have previously stored in your muscles and liver, for as long as possible.

How much food should the athlete take in during an ultra? Lots! Considering that runners burn 200 to 800 calories per hour (depending on size, gender, temperature, terrain, and intensity of race pace) and that ultra races can last from 5 hours to 24 hours, that’s a lot of grub.

A 150-pound runner going at a moderate pace for a ten hour ultra can burn 6,000 or more calories!

A good goal is to take in 1 to 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per hour. For most runners this will be between 280 to 420 calories for a 70-kilogram (154lb) runner per hour. This should include a mix of solids and liquids. Sports nutritionist Monique Ryan, in her book Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes recommends 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate (120 to 240 calories) per hour from sports drinks.

What Solids Should You Eat?

Most ultra runners will stock standard carbohydrate rich foods like fruit, watermelon, lightweight fried fruit, bagels, fig bars, energy bars, chocolate bars, cakes, cookies, candy, jelly beans, pretzels, boiled potatoes, pies, even sandwiches (cheese sandwiches seem to be a favorite).


Ideally you should match your fluid and electrolyte needs with your losses on an hour-by-hour basis. “Ultra runners need to start the race well hydrated”, says Ryan in her book. “This can by drinking 16 to 20 ounces of fluid in the hour before start time”.

Drinking Guidelines for Ultra Runners:
120-250 ml of fluid every 15 minutes
= 1 liter (33 ounces) to 2 liters (66 ounces) of fluid per hour

Why the large range in recommended fluid intake? Sweating varies with ambient temperature, humidity, and race pace intensity, gender, and individual sweat rates. Generally, men will need more fluid than women because they tend to be larger and lose more sweat over a larger surface area.

Clearly the runner cannot carry these volumes of fluid with him, so the need for a support crew is critical. Fluid stops at drinks stations must be carefully planned, and the runner must ensure he carries enough fluid between check points. Most runners are able to absorb and process one liter of fluid per hour. An easy guide to whether you are hydrating adequately is to check the color of your urine. If it’s clear, you’re doing well. If it is dark colored, start drinking more.

Beware of sports drinks or soft drinks with high concentrations of carbohydrate (sugar), above 10%. They take longer to empty from the stomach. Remember, you want quick clearance. If you insist on taking such hypertonic sports drinks, dilute them by 50% to play it safe.

If your ultra lasts longer than 6 hours, attention must be paid to electrolyte intake, especially sodium through sports drinks or food. This is the third golden nutrition rule for ultra running. Hyponatremia occurs in athletes who take in too much low sodium fluid (water), or are excessive sweaters. It’s caused by a dilution of the sodium levels in your plasma, and is potentially fatal. It affects about 5% of runners in any given ultra event (Tarnopolsky 2008).

The people at highest risk tend to be the less fit, and those who gain water weight during the event. A higher incidence of hyponatremia among women has also been noted because they tend to gain more weight during a triathlon, have lower body mass indexes and lower sodium levels than men.

If you are at risk, you are well advised to experiment with sodium tablets, or foods high in sodium like potato chips or pretzels. There are as yet, no clear-cut guidelines for sodium intake during ultra events, but 200-500 mgs/hour is enough to prevent hyponatremia. Heavy sweaters may need as much as 1 gram/hour and salt tablets may help here. It is important that you know the sodium content of your drinks, gels, bars and other foods.

Sports Nutrition for Ultra Runners Summary

These are the most important sports nutrition considerations based on the research. Remember to find out what works best for you during your training runs rather than trying something new during your ultra event. You might also be interested in reading about related topics on sports drinks and gels, caffeine supplements, and carbohydrate loading.
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Pretty Women, Doctors, Bacon Sandwiches, and Other Diversion Points Along The Route…

So, in an effort to avoid tired death and cramps, I’ve tried to come up with some resupply points along the route. The start out fairly far apart along the route.  And slowly get more closely spaced as we get more tired.

There is one tricky bastard thing called the bolinas ridge trail. That’s going to be  pain in the ass. Because it’s 11 miles long, and there’s no road access. And after mile 6, there’s no shade either. So what that means is good samaritan hike to resupply, pre-supply, or tough it out for 11 miles. We will decide prior to departure.

With that in mind:

Potential Resupply Points

1)      North Side Of Golden Gate Bridge (8 miles)

2)      Muir Beach (8 miles)

3)      Stinson Beach (7.5 miles)

4)      RidgeCrest Blvd (at Intersection with Bolinas Fairfax Road)  (6.5 miles)

5)      Olema (At end of Sir Frances Drake Blvd.)  (11 miles)  –

  1. Potential Midpoint Meet at intersection of Randall Trail and Bolinas Ridge Trail (no road access, 7 miles)

6)      Point Reyes Station (on Highway One)  (4 miles)

7)      Tomales Bay Oyster Company (2.4 miles)

8)      Hog Island Oyster Company (5.6 miles)

The Route – In Excruciating Detail

Christian Here.

I’ve spend the day laying out all of the important route markers.

2 key things to note. There’s a high road and a low road on the way to tiperarry (and Tomales.)  We will be taking the low road. This means the steep part of the dip’sea is in effect (downhill thankfully.) The reason for this is simple: resupply station. Another way to put this, in terms my german brain can understand: possible bacon replenishment point.

So, without further ado, i’m attaching a file with both a long version and a short version of the directions.  The short version includes mileage as well as turn by turn directions for the whole route.  The long version includes whatever the hell Google maps thought would make sense. In other words, follow the short version.

With this new version, and the likelihood that we may have oysters at the tomales bay oyster company (hog island is totally booked!) the full route is 50.66 miles. If we do make it all the way up to Hog Island Oyster Company, it’s 54.88 miles, or as close to 55 as I care to count.  Anything over 50 and I’m a happy bastard.


Short Version:

Run From San Francisco to Northern End Of Golden Gate Bridge 8 Miles
Northern End of Golden Gate Bridge Up Into Headlands on Conzelan Road  
At Intersection Halfway Up Hill Take Right Onto McCullough Road 1.25 Miles
Over The Hill To Bunker Road  
Take a Left on Bunker Road 1 Mile
Take a Right At  First Turnout –  Onto Valley Trail 0.5 miles
Take Left Immediately Onto Valley Trail Heading North 0.1 mile
Stay Left On Bobcat Trail At First Intersection 0.4 miles
Take Right Onto Miwok Trail At First T Intersection 0.1 miles
At Next Major Intersection Turn Left Onto Wolf Ridge Trail 1.1 miles
Straight Through One Major Intersection 0.1 mile
At 2nd Major Intersection – Take Left Onto Coastal Trail 2 miles
Bear Right At Y Intersection Follow Coastal Trail Onto Muir Beach 3 miles
Take Exit Out of Muir Beach Parking Lot onto Highway One 0.2 miles
Follow Highway One Through Town and Up Hill 1.8 miles
Take Right on First Trail – Coastal View Trail  
Follow Coastal View Trail until First Y Intersection – 2.8 miles
Stay Left on Coastal View Trail  
At 4 Way Intersection take Left onto Dipsea Trail 0.1 miles
Follow Dipsea Trail Into Stinson Beach 2.5 miles
Take Right in Center of Town Onto Calle Del Mar 0.2 miles
Take First Left Onto Buena Vista Ave 0.1 miles
Take First Left Onto Lincoln Ave 0.2 miles
Take First Left Onto Belvedere Ave. 0.1 miles
Take Right Onto Ave Farralone 0.05 miles
At End of Road Enter Righthand Trail 0.2 miles
Follow Righthand Trail  
At First Major Intersection take Left onto Coastal Trail 1.75 miles
At First Intersection Take Left on RidgeCrest Blvd. 1 mile
Take left at intersection with Bolinas Fairfax Road 1.7 miles
Take Immediate Right onto Bolinas Ridge Trail 0.05 miles
Take Left on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. 11 miles
Take a Left onto Highway 1 1.1 mile
Follow Highway 1 to Tomales/Marshall 6.4 miles (12 miles)

15 miles in the catskills on the Devil’s Path

Tried to get some time on the trails with some mountains this past weekend. It turns out the mountains on the devil’s path are as gnarly as they say. Was planning on breaking 25 but it was a big first climb followed by a wrong turn that made this a still difficult 15. And a slow one at that.

Try to imaging a rocky trail with very steep ascents and descents.  Now cover it all with yellow and brown leaves 8″ deep. Ankle breaker running if ever there was any.

Mmmmm Juice….

Christian here.

In an effort to purge the last of the corn whiskey and cigarette smoke (4 months and counting) from my system, I’m jumping into the deep end of the dietary pool and drinking nothing but hippie shakes for the next three days…

Nothing but organic, cold pressed juices from here on out. Some of the highlights of veggie and fruit deliciousness…

The complete source: carrot, celery, parsley, spinach. according to norman walker this formula is the most assimilable source of protein. vegetation is the prime source of all nutrition, including protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, & salts.

 Sweet Potato Pie: carrot, sweet potato, 1/4 apple, flax, peruvian maca extract. sweet potato is a beta carotene gold mine! carrot is known to be a great liver detoxer. the sugars in carrots convert easily to a useable source of energy. sweet potato is a great source of vitamin c. you want that. trust me.

simple green: cucumber, celery, lemon, aloe, kale, blue mana, pinch of sea salt.

As for cold pressed, i’m still not sure what that’s all about, but it looks complicated, and involves a 3-ton press, which always impresses.

“norman walker invented this machine some 75 years ago.

“The press has two separate juice extraction machines built into it: (1) the pulverizer; and (2) the 3 ton hydraulic press.”

three weeks to go, Gabriel finally breaks 20 miles.

This was a long slow 23 miles, broken up by a nice lunch at Judaliscious, the vegan/raw food place on Judah.  You know the place, where the 18 year old behind the counter yawns as she tells you your cucumber, kale, and carrot wrap smothered in almond butter and avocado puree will be $12.  What can I do though, that was just the food I needed to propel me the second 12 miles.

This was a lovely run, beautiful weather and although I’m exhausted right now, there was no cramping and I was ableto stay hydrated with my fancy new no-rub water belt.  Chastise all you want, but that powder blue hip hugger did the trick and will be more than useful for the large sections of the hog2hog when we’ll be away from drinkable water.

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