When, What and How To Eat For Endurance
After a few weeks of back to back running and increased mileage I realized part of training for an ultra that I hadn’t given much thought to was eating for endurance. How quickly I forgot not eating frequently enough or the amount I should have when I ran the 12 hour relay last year.
Eat and run. It seems simple enough until you’re running an ultramarathon.
As you can imagine there is quite a bit of information out there on this subject and it can be overwhelming for someone that just wants to enjoy the run and cross the finish line. There are formulas for how many calories, carbs, etc. you should eat depending on how far and fast you run, how much you weigh and how many hours you’re running. There are tips for specific when and what to eat. Too much information and that’s where the overwhelming part comes in. I knew right away as serious Type A personality I would try to focus on each and every aspect recommended. Impossible! I just want to finish in one piece. So, I finally decided to stick with the basics and think in terms of the “two golden rules of ultrarunning, eat before you get hungry, and drink before you’re thirsty—you need to start eating and drinking very early in the race” (Nancy Clark, Sports Nutritionist).
Last weekend Chad and I ran one of my longest training runs so far, 16 miles. He had the brilliant idea to practice the when, how and what of eating on-the-run. So, the night before I packed a quartered almond butter sandwich, Nuun, and a banana with the idea that we would plan our route with a stop at the car every so many miles with a recovery drink at the end. Chad just rolled his eyes. This was not even close to what he had in mind. His plan was a chopped up banana in a baggie and a peanut butter sandwich cut into tiny squares and every 4 miles a short brisk walk to eat and drink. Ugh! I have so much to learn! I don’t even like peanut butter! Chad’s rationale for peanut butter is we have to figure out what foods work for me and the best place to start is with what will most likely be provided during the actual race. There is a slim-to-none chance that they will offer almond butter on Ezekiel sandwiches [insert Chad’s hysterical laughter here!].
What I know for sure:
- Eating for endurance is a part of training I need to keep practicing.
- Every time we stopped to eat I questioned eating because I wasn’t hungry. I need to change my mindset.
- I can learn to eat peanut butter but I don’t know that I will ever like it.
- I don’t like the texture of cold squishy bananas.
- Nuun is my hydration of choice as a nice change from plain water. Most importantly it’s not too sweet.
- I need to have a nutritional plan in place and stick to it even when I don’t want or feel like eating.
- I prefer “real food” as opposed to sport products.
- I know there is only so much “sweet” I can eat before I start to feel nauseous.
- Tweak the when, what and how much until I find what keeps me feeling relatively good and fueled for the run.
- During long cold runs Chad is not so patient with my picture taking and he will leave me!
All in all it was an ok run. I learned a lot and I’m sure I still have a lot to learn. Run by run I’m getting a clearer picture of what it takes to run an ultramarathon.