A very wise Ann Trason once said that
“ultra marathons are just an eating and drinking competition with a little bit of running thrown in”
I couldn’t agree more, which is one of the main reasons I got into the sport in the first place. I love food.
The biggest breakthroughs for me in ultrarunning have always come through a direct progression with my race food. Everyone is different, some surviving on pork pies alone, others chomping through 40-50 gels in a 100 mile race.
It is a study of one and experimentation is key, not just in your sex life, but with the food you eat in training and racing. Unfortunately you can only really find out what your stomach can handle in a 24 hour race at about the 18 hours mark of the race, which can be a little too late if your new test food isn’t just right.
Sometimes it can be quite helpful to try food in faster sessions too, because if you can stomach it during a 15 minute marathon pace effort at the end of a long run, you might just be able to chew through it after 60 miles of running. This is in no way a proven science, it’s just something I do to try out new race foods. Sometimes it makes me sick, but that’s just a chance to get an extra bit of rest in on hard efforts.
I take the idea about using real food, sensible slow release energy foods, for as long as possible before I revert back to my child like state of munching Skittles for hours on end. Beware because once you get on that sugar train you have to stay on for the whole bumpy ride, risking dips in energy and your mindset that can derail any race.
Whatever you go for, get cooking and get out on the trails to test. Try out different bars, gels and flapjacks that might work, even test some porkpies if you’re that way inclined but make sure you have a plan going into your race. You may not stick to it, but always best to have a plan to start with!
Let us know what keeps you ticking on the trails and how you’ve experimented with any recipes.
Thanks to Robbie Britton who wrote this originally in 2015.