Race Day Nutrition | Lift Heavy Run Long

We got into nutrition a little bit on the Barbell Shrugged Podcast, but I wanted to get into what I eat and carry with me during a race a little more because I don’t really feel like I got to talk enough about it.  Here is what my supplies look like for a long (50K+) race:

  • Water Bottle (handheld)
  • S!Caps
  • GU
  • Workout Shake(s)
  • GU Brew or Nuun Tablets

The water bottle is just a basic handheld water bottle that I make sure is always filled with water or some electrolyte drink like gatorade.  I normally start a race with just water in the bottle.  I can usually make it about 5 miles before the bottle gets empty.  Thankfully most good races have aid stations around every 5 miles so I can refill it.  I usually alternate water and gatorade at every other aid station.  I will also have some tablets (noted above) that I can drop in the water if I start feeling like I need something more than water.

Before I ran my first 50K, fellow LHRL athlete Rob Conner advised me to get some S!Caps and take one every 45 minutes to an hour during the race.  It took me a while, but I now realize what happens when I don’t have them.  Cramps!  I get these horrible cramps near the top of my calves if I don’t make sure that I’m dropping S!Caps and hydrating with water and gatorade.  If I don’t stay on top of these two things, my situation quickly begins to deteriorate.  Salt is a common item you will see at an aid station during an Ultra Marathon.  They’ll have pickles, pickle juice, saltine crackers, potatoes with a lot of salt, salt cubes, chicken noodle soup with salt and on and on.  I can usually skip these items at the aid stations when I’m taking the S!Caps.  However, on a cold day at mile 20 something a nice hot cup of chicken noodle soup is like paradise!   I came across this really good interview with the creator of S!Caps on the Trail Runner Nation Podcast.  They go into a little bit more science and what exactly an S!Cap is if you are interested.

GU I consider fuel.  It’s kind of hard to carry peanut butter and jelly sandwiches around with you on the trail, and I hook GU packets to my race belt.  You can also get GU with caffeine in them, and those things are awesome! I use the ones with double caffeine.  It really gives me a boost when I get tired and sluggish during the later miles.  I prefer eating PB&J, M&M’s and Brownies at the aid stations though as opposed to GU packets.  During the later miles, for me, chocolate pudding GU is a bit hard to consume vs. the other “food.”

My workout shake is like my security blanket.  I can’t really explain why, but I love it.  During a 50 Mile race, I’ll have two of them and during a marathon or 50K I’ll have one halfway through if I can have a drop bag or find someone to wait for me and give it to me.  My workout shake consists of about 35-40g of Whey Protein (Vanilla Flavor) and about 25g of lime Gatorade.  I love it.  I can’t explain how energized I am when I get it.  At Ouachita, I power through miles 24-25 because I know I have a shake waiting on me at the 25/26 mile aid station where my drop bag is.  I also get another one at mile 40 (I think) and that gives me the boost I need to finish the race.  This past year, my drop bag was missing and I didn’t get the shake when I thought I was gonna get it.  I had a serious melt down.  Read the race report for more on that.  Anyway, I love the workout shake and won’t do any physical activity or training without it.

Hopefully that gives you a little more detail on what we started talking about on the podcast.  Leave questions in the comments and I’ll answer them!