In the race on the weekend I’m expecting to burn something like 6,000 calories over the course of the six hours I expect to be moving. Obviously water won’t be enough to get me through that sort of effort but I’m hoping that combination of water, energy drink, my favorite candy, and some easy-to-digest cheese will get me through.
Sound a little weird? It is, I guess, but it’s what has worked for me in the past and it is what I have trained with, and it is what I’ll be preparing in terms of nutrition for the Saint-Fons 6 Hour ultramarathon this Saturday.
First and most important is hydration and for that I’m going with plain water and High5 Zero Electrolyte drink. The electrolytes will help over the course of the six hours but I’m about 60% convinced that the biggest benefit of the electrolyte drink is it’s taste (I have a couple of different fruit flavors) and a placebo effect. I know the aid station has Coca Cola, coffee, and beer, too, but I think I’ll do best sticking to what I am used to.
In terms of sugars and quick handfuls of carbohydrates, I’m a fan of Hema Jelly Beans and Haribo Gummies. Haribo candies are easy to find here in France and they don’t get sticky in my hand. I ran a nice 50km on nothing but water and gummies back in December in under four hours so I am confident they’ll do the trick. Jelly beans, on the other hand, are relatively hard to come by in France but Hema sells them cheap and in 500 gram buckets that are perfect for race day.
I’ll also take along some Babybel Original mini cheese wheels. These are easy to unwrap and only take a couple of bites to get down when running. They are tasty and should help break up the sugar rush that’s involved trying to run six hours on candy alone.
As well as all of this, there’s going to be plenty of stuff to snack on at the aid stations, though I think I’ll concentrate on eating and drinking what I brought with me – save water from the aid station – and maybe grab a coulpe of pieces of chocolate if I feel like I need it.
The schedule for eating and drinking is also something I’ll try and stick to. From experience I tend to do well when drinking at regular 5km or 25-30 minute intervals. I always take on more water if I feel like I need it but generally every half hour is about right. Similarly, I like to break up the eating to about once or twice an hour, with the actual eating taking about 5 or 6 minutes each time. I am aiming to ingest something approaching 500 to 600 calories each hour which is about 200 grams of the Hema/Haribo candy mix. If I split that between two periods then I should usually be fine.
Unlike some people I have read about I don’t set alarms to remind me to eat and drink. My Garmin Vivoactive watch buzzes each kilometer with a split time and it’s not hard to keep an eye on the 5, 10, 15, 20km marks and remember to eat and drink. Unlike the Ploeren 12 Hour race back in December where everything was new, this time I think I have the nutrition and hydration dialed in and, if something really goes wrong, it is ‘only’ a six hour event so it cannot go totally pear-shaped.