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Once a padawan, now a freaking Jedi. I run really far, I write a bunch, and have super powers that allow me to grow amazing facial hair.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Finer Points: Tuning Your Nutrition

For most things in life, you learn your lessons the hard way through "Oh shit!" moments. The first time you toe the line for an ultramarathon, it's my recommendation that you reduce the chance for these epiphanies by careful planning.

                                                       As "The Sixth Sense" Taught Us, You Can
                                                                     Only Have Your Mind Blown So Much.

Top 5 Nutrition Mistakes and How To Avoid Them:

1. You don't take nutrition into account at all.

Solution: What you eat and how much is MORE important than the miles you actually run, whether in training or during the race. Energy levels, injury prevention, recovery, cramping, stomach problems... you dial all of these in by proper nutrition.

2. You know about carbo-loading, but not how to actually do it.

Solution: Carbo-load a few days in advance, leaving the eve of your event open to small meals that are easy to digest. Packing in pasta drenched with sauce the night before seems logical, after all, you need those calories right? Hell no. A lot of races enable this behavior by having pre-race pasta buffets, but it simply doesn't work that way. Your body amplifies everything during strenuous activity. If you eat 20 lbs of pasta the night before a race, then you'd better pack some toilet paper into your waistband.

At Least He Wasn't Wearing White?

3. You don't eat in training the way you eat during a race.

Solution: Sure it's a pain in the ass to carry gels, chia seeds, or mix electrolyte powder into your water bottle when your on training without the benefit of an aid station, but if you are going to utilize those things at a stop during a race, you damn sure better have them when you train. You train your stomach just like you train the rest of your body... surprise your digestive system during an event and you can be sure it will return the favor. Some people even claim not using the same flavor of a gel or electrolyte drink they train with can (and has) ruined a race.

4. You eat what you crave instead of what you need.

Solution: You've been running for hours, drinking water, eating along the way. Despite this, you feel incredibly hungry and unbelievably thirsty. You come to an aid station and clear out the Oreos and drink a gallon of water. Felt good at the time didn't it? Until you run about 10 feet away and puke it all up. Your entire body is going to freak out the first time you try to push it to its limits, don't give in, give it only what it needs to keep going.
At Least She Is Wearing Brooks!
5. You just finished your race! Now you go out and eat 20,000 calories of bullshit.

Solution: It's tempting, I know. You just burnt more calories in a single day than most people do in a month. Why not have a gluttonous feast to reward your accomplishment? Because it will destroy your stomach, stunt your recovery, and likely won't set the tone you want to set to get back into training mode.

While you're getting styled and dialed with your nutrition, I highly recommend these books:

Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

Thrive by Brandon Brazier

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