Just imagine, you are seated at a table, surrounded by friends and family this Christmas. Carolers are heard singing from a neighbours porch while the children merrily run around frolicking about as good children do. In front of you lies a spread of all your favourite delectable holiday dishes such as homemade apple pie, roasted yams, pumpkin pie and yes your favorite, a giant turkey, moist and ready to be devoured. You lean forward to carve the beast and… SNAP OUT OF IT!!!
Reality is those foods did exist and were consumed in a different environment. They were eaten in a meticulous nature all day and night while running the Desert Solstice 24 hour race on December 13-14th. Don’t believe me, well think again and get this IT WORKED PERFECTLY. No gut issues, no highs or lows, just a constant stream of fuel all day that propelled me (if not for my stupid knee) to the best performance to date. The reason why I’m writing this post is we all know fuelling in our sport is hard to get right. In fact it could be the main reason for cratering and failure. If I found a formula that works for me then hell, some variation of it might work for you too.
I spoke with my dietitian Samara Felesky Hunt a few days before the race. This was my first 24 hour track race and I new a different fuelling strategy would be needed but I didn’t know what. She described to me in detail how she wanted me eat every 30 minutes taking in around 150 calories and alternate between fructose and glucose. She explained they both use very different channels of absorption thus maximizing how much fuel the stomach could handle while running. An example of the fructose she wanted me to eat was: home made apple sauce, pears (skinned), watermelon and blueberries. The glucose was: pureed pumpkin (with a tbsp of sugar and a dash of cinnamon), syrup waffles, roasted yams and the classic gel. Upon every third hour I’d substitute one of the glucose feedings out for three turkey meatballs, YEAH, that’s what I wrote, TURKEY MEATBALLS! Like my first kiss, this blew my mind! I’ve never eaten meat while running and before this conversation seemed like an awful idea that would end with me spending a long time in the porta potti. But I trust Samara whole heartedly and agreed in taking a risk.
Fast forward to 14 hours into the race, I noticed a lot of runners already having GI issues track side. Some vomiting, some bonking and some with extended or frequent bathroom stops. Myself, I felt golden, none of these issues bothered me. I didn’t and would proceed not to have any bowel movements and felt a constant stream of energy all day. Twenty-two minutes later I crossed the 100 mile mark in first place and feeling good moving steadily towards my larger goal of 250K that day. I ended up running until the 18.5 hour mark when my knee and ankle blew up on me but until that point I felt like I nailed the nutrition that day.
I learnt a number of things that day. I think the number one thing was that my body runs very well with a constant supply of protein. I plan on trying eggs next. Vitamin B loading with RE7 is the way to go. Homemade apple sauce ROCKS! It was by far my favourite food going. I put it in Salomon soft flasks, take off the lid and squeeze it when needed. Pumpkin was an absolute delight. Go figure that Vets give pumpkin to dogs to settle there stomachs so why not us nutty old runners. The final thing I learnt was by alternating between fructose and glucose I was at times able to squeeze up to 400 calories into this Homer Simpson gut, crazy right?!