I said last week that this post would be about nutrition, but I have altered the plan slightly because I have realized that I don’t know enough about nutrition to write a whole post about it. I have read many articles about what runners should eat, and in what proportions, but I have chosen not to follow them. I try to eat healthy, but I refuse to become some portion obsessed calorie counter. If that is what you are interested in, there are many fine articles and books out there for you.
What I would really like to say about nutrition and 100 Miler training is this: prepare to eat a lot. Later in training you will be burning thousands of extra calories a day, and you will need those calories for your body to repair itself and continue to function properly. It is for this reason that I would urge people who are running to lose weight to stick to the shorter distances. Now bear in mind that I know little about nutrition and this is just my personal opinion, but I believe that if you intentionally restrict your caloric intake while pushing your body to its limits you are inviting illness and injury.
Speaking of illness, it is also important to note that some of the calories that you burn while training are calories that your body normally would have used to support your immune system. For this reason training of this kind can make you more prone to illness. There is not much to be done about this except to eat well (and often) and take supplements. Again, I am not an expert, but I can tell you what works for me. Every morning I take a Glucosamine and MSM pill (which is HUGE!) for my joints, a strong multivitamin, and a high-dose time-released Vitamin C pill. That’s it. Many runners take Creatine to help with water retention, however Creatine gives me headaches for some reason, so I do without it.
While running I sometimes use Gels when I think that I can keep them down, or gummies and jelly beans. Ideally I use the special gummies and jelly beans made for runners, but I have run with regular jelly beans and found that they work fine. For drinks I use regular Gatorade and water. I have tried some of the more specialized drinks but found that they didn’t do anything for me that the cheaper Gatorade wasn’t doing. Again, this is all just my experience and I would recommend that each person experiment with different things to find what works best for them. If you are thinking of running a 100 miler you are probably already running endurance races and have some idea of what works for you. One thing to start experimenting with is eating real food while running. No one can run 100 Miles on gels and Gatorade alone, so find out what agrees with you (or disagrees the least) while running and work on getting your body used to processing solid food on the go. You may also want to see how your body deals with caffeine while running. When you are running through the night, a little caffeine can be a huge help. My first 100 miler was the first time that I had ever drank cola while running, and I was surprised by how well my body took it, right up until I over did it and brought on a puking incident. Live and learn!
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back next week to comment on the pros and cons of hero worship in endurance running.
Thanks for reading!