Posted in Run
image of runner running in park holding High5 gel

Completing an ultra endurance event is an immense physical and mental challenge. This can involve exercising for 5-6 hours or more, with many of the larger events going beyond 24 hours, often through the night and in extreme temperatures. A planned nutrition strategy can be the difference between successfully completing a race or suffering a DNF.

Days leading up to race

Carbohydrate is the dominant fuel source throughout moderate to high intensity exercise therefore carbohydrate intake should be increased in the two days prior to race day. This is achieved by increasing carbohydrate portions at meal times (e.g. pasta, rice, bread) and adding regular snacks between meals, such as a SiS GO Energy Bar. As this high quantity it is difficult to achieve through food alone, SiS GO Energy can be consumed alongside meals or snacks, contributing 47g carbohydrate per serving. This would be the equivalent of having to eat two slices of bread.

Recent research shows that increased dietary nitrate intake in the lead up to an endurance event can elevate nitrate stores. This can reduce the amount of oxygen required to perform at a given workload, which improves the efficiency of the working muscles. Beetroot and spinach both offer a natural source of nitrate, so it’s worth increasing your intake leading up to the event.

Race Day Morning

Although it is often an early start on race day, it is important to consume a carbohydrate-based breakfast around 2-4 hours before the start line. This is to top up carbohydrate stores and give sufficient time for digestion.

An ideal breakfast should have around 2g per kilo of body mass consisting of a bagel, porridge, or toast alongside some apple juice, or an SiS GO Energy Bar if time is limited. Aim to consume 400-600 ml fluid to hydrate, SiS GO Hydro contains various electrolytes and is great for this time to aid fluid retention. This pre race meal should be tried in training to avoid discomfort on the day.

During the event

The bodies limited carbohydrate stores can become depleted following around 90 minutes of exercise, depending on race pace. A combination of the high intensity mountainous climbs involved in many ultra endurance races and high sweat rates at altitude increase the importance of fuelling during the race.

Consuming up to 60 g of carbohydrate per hour is optimum to help maintain race pace. This can be in the form of liquids, gels or bars depending on personal preference. SiS GO Isotonic Gels are easily digestible and practical to carry, and provide 22g carbohydrate each.

Towards the last quarter of the race or to help with sleep deprivation, a SiS GO Gel + Caffeine gel  can provide a mental and physical boost when it is most needed. If you prefer more solid food SiS GO Bars are also rapidly digested. These products are all light and easy to carry in your backpack or race belt.

The goal is to drink adequately during this event whilst avoiding dehydration. As little as a 2% drop in body mass (e.g. 1.4 kg in a 70 kg person) can be sufficient to affect performance.

Your sweat rate and the conditions will affect the amount you need significantly. A typical recommendation is to have between 500-1000ml per hour. SiS GO Hydro contains carbohydrate and electrolyte and can easily be carried and mixed enroute. Fluid is best absorbed when it is delivered with carbohydrate and electrolytes together.

Post race

Recovery is a crucial part of race nutrition for replenishing depleted energy stores and repairing the muscles. SiS REGO Rapid Recovery is a blend of carbohydrate, protein and electrolytes. It should be consumed within 30 minutes post race, followed up by a complete meal 1-2 hours later.

Before going to bed, SiS Overnight Protein will help boost your recovery through its blend of slowly digestible milk protein, which is high in casein and tastes great. The casein protein is slowly released to the muscles throughout hours of sleep which will helps to enhance muscle recovery and prevent further breakdown of your lean muscle tissue as a result of the large energy deficit you have created.

About the author

Suzannah Cranwell
Published on: 09 Jun 2015