Last week, George completed the Stour Valley Path 100 - a 102km running race along the undulating Stour Valley Path trail. Here George gives some race day nutrition & hydration strategies to implement in your own 100km race.
Complete Stour Valley Path 102km within 13.5hrs.
Completed the race within 12hrs6mins. Splits:
12 miles: 10:59
22 miles: 12:53
50 miles: 18:17
58 miles: 20:00
64.2 miles: 21:06
Pack - Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin3 5 Set Running Backpack incl. 1l water capacity
Shoes - Salomon S-lab Sense Ultra
Socks - Hilly TwinSkins
Tee - Salomon Minim EVAC Running T-Shirt
Shorts - Nike Dry Challenger
Head Torch - SILVA Trail Runner II
Sunglasses - Oakley Racking Jacket Red/White
RACE DAY NUTRITION
As is common practice, I aimed for 250 calories per hour, starting at 40 mins - i.e. eat at 40 mins, 1hr 40mins, 2hr 40 mins etc.
In terms of what foods I ate, I began by mixing it up between the following, which I carried in my pack:
- Clif Bar SHOTBLOKS (energy chews, basically the taste and texture of sweets) &
- Clif Bar Peanut Butter (energy bars, more solid) - fortunately 1 pack of each of these is almost exactly 250 cals.
A couple of points on these:
As this was an ultra race, I needed to fuel with more real food rather than just gels to for some slower release carbohydrate. If this was a half marathon, I'd probably have stuck with 'fake foods' like energy gels and the odd coca cola.
This is entirely personal to me - I know my gut handles these foods OK during a race. It's worth experimenting with other foods to see what works for you. I'm also a big fan of eating baby food, yes baby food, from Ella's Kitchen and have heard others go for this one too (I'm not the only one I promise)) - it's real food and it's in convenient packs, why not give it a go?
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE RACE
As the race wore on, particularly from around hour 9 onwards, I realised I would be out there for longer than I had anticipated, so had to be flexible and think about eating other foods.
Had the race gone on longer (e.g. a 100 miler) I would have tried to eat more real food, but since I knew I was nearly there I opted for liquids in the form of Coca Cola & Squash with the odd banana chucked in - still roughly 250 cals per hour.
At the last aid station I was struggling and remembered one of Stephanie Howe's (elite ultra runner, North Face sponsored) key principles of race nutrition - listen to your body, if you body likes the look of a particular food at an aid station just go for it.
So that's what I did! For some reason my body was crying out for some watermelon (perhaps dehydration - see below for why that may be the case) at mile 58, so I literally stood there and wolfed down around half a watermelon in front of a few women who I felt pretty sorry for having to watch me do so.
RACE DAY HYDRATION
I was fortunate enough to have an hour with a brilliant exercise physiologist a couple of years back before taking on a stage race ultra in Spain. He recommended the following, and I've stuck to these ever since without having any issues:
- Aim for around 400-600ml per hour of water depending on the heat - ie. if it's hotter drink more.
- Small pinch of Himalayan Rock Salt into each water bottle (I carry two 500ml water bottles on the front of my pack, which is pretty standard)
- As a guide for how much salt to add, you shouldn't be able to taste the salt, but it should noticeably change the texture of the water, which should become more viscous.
- Drip the water into your body over the hour rather than consuming in one go
- I carry a small plastic pouch with the salt and take it out before topping up water at aid stations
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE RACE
I made a big mistake in this race with hydration in that I didn't anticipate just how long the distances were between aid stations - particularly in the first two thirds of the race. I ran out of water three times between aid stations and that definitely cost me time - not only did I suffer physically from the dehydration but psychologically it's tough to see your water bottle empty with 40 mins of running until the next aid station after you've already run for 6 hours. Those psychological losses can take their toll, increase stress, and take up energy. Add in the fact you have to slow down to conserve energy and this sort of thing can be disastrous. SOLUTION: If in doubt, take extra water capacity with you - e.g. a small bladder - for those mini emergencies, particularly if you know you have long distances between aid stations.
FINAL HYDRATION TIP: I've had pretty serious post-race dehydration issues in the past, having been admitted to hospital overnight after one ultra. Don't forget that your body is in crisis state even after you finish the race, so continue to take in good amounts of water - you might deserve a beer but try maintain your hydration levels as well!
We'd love to know your race strategies - get in touch with us on instagram or in the comments below, OR come along to our next RUN CLUB!!!