What I plan to eat during a 70m race

Yesterday afternoon I headed over to the dentist surgery after work to get the two fillings I was told I required during my last visit.

I wasn’t looking forward to the visit (Just who does look forward to a trip to the dentist?!) and had been building myself up to discuss my current sugar intake with my dentist after his accusations of my chocolate and fizzy drink-fueled diet three weeks ago.

A copy of Runner’s World which I found on the waiting room table helped calm my nerves and take my mind off of events before going in.  Much better than the usual trashy chat magazines that haven’t been replaced in the last six years!
Runner's World magazine

I was asked to open my mouth immediately upon entering the chair and as the dentist looked into my mouth he asked ‘So have you sorted your poor diet out yet?

I wimped out.  I was embarrassed and pretty helpless laying in his chair.  As soon as he had removed his hand from my mouth I just shot back with ‘I’ve stopped eating fruit’.  It was a gut instinct reaction and I should have been more adult about it but I panicked.

I haven’t stopped eating fruit, although I have limited how much of it I eat each day now.  I was given no advice on how best to improve my ‘poor diet’ and the whole time my teeth were being worked on I was thinking about where there were other practicing dentists in my town.

This week I have also spent some time thinking about my fueling strategy during races.  When I first started running longer distances I was introduced to gels.  I never got on with the thick, gloopy gels but instead fueled my half marathons with Lucozade and Jelly Babies originally.  Once I upped my distance to the marathon I quickly realised just how sickly sweet the Lucozade drinks would become after a few hours and how there is nothing better than pure water to wash your mouth out after a sugar overload!  So I moved away from the super sickly sweet and started looking at more savoury items of food.  Eventually I came up with a nice mix of sweet and savoury, and although the list isn’t the healthiest, it’s what my body craves and runs well on.

Below is a picture of my kit list (and food!) for the Dusk ’til Dawn 50m ultra last year.
Kit for Dusk 'til Dawn 50mile ultramarathonThere are now just 21 days remaining until the Grim Reaper 70mile event on July 31st.  Last year I was running to complete the race.  I just wanted to tick off the 70m mark as a nice step towards completing my 100m (one day!) and focused purely on getting round the course within the time limit.  This year, I return…And this year I would like to beat my time.  Nutrition plays a massive part in performance and having tweaked mine over several events now I would like to say I have figured out what works for me.  I added the following foods to my MyFitnessPal account alongside a 21 hour running activity and these are the stats that popped back out at me.

Food: Sugar: Carbohydrates: Protein: Calories:
Orange (x7) 119g 168g 21g 630
Bag of sour cream and chive pretzels (x2) 13g 251g 32g 1480
Cocoa orange nakd bar (x7) 98g 112g 28g 1015
Carton of chocolate milk (x2) 69g 73g 22g 500
Vegetarian pizza 11g 80g 31g 578
Electrolyte nuun lemonade tablet (x7) 0g 21g 0g 49
Total: 310g 1015g 134g 4252
Suggested required amount (based on 21hr completion time): 521g 2045g 818g 13899
Difference: 210g 1339g 683g 9646

I did write a post about what I ate at Grim last year and to be honest, a lot of the foods I will be eating will be the same.  They worked last year, no reason for them not to work this time round.  I pretty much winged it last year, following a few trials of various foods on shorter ‘long’ runs leading up to the event.  Just three months earlier at the Conti run, I had still thought I would be fine getting round a 12 hour event on Jelly Babies and Lucozade!  I managed 44 miles, but it wasn’t an enjoyable affair towards the end of the race and I regrettably pulled early with another 90 minutes left on the clock.

I entered the food details into MyFitnessPal first of all, and when I then logged the amount of running time as 21 hours, the suggested required amount section changed, increasing the suggested amounts I would require to fuel me.

Nakd bars in a box

Firstly, I could never eat 13,899 calories in a day.  I’ve mentioned it in the past but I’ve heard of runners getting mouth ulcers from consuming so much food in such a short space of time!  I personally find I really struggle to eat much at all during and after running and really need strong flavours (sour cream and chive pretzels/oranges) or easy to consume items (chocolate milk) to get the calories back in so that I can convert calories to energy.  After Grim last year I felt quite weak for a while afterwards.  Just very energyless.  I slept for several hours when I first returned home and (after I’d been through every little detail of the race with Dan!) then I spent a little while eating pretzels and building up some energy to get my leg over the edge of the bath tub to take a shower!  We actually have a corner bath so I was able to sit on the side whilst I showered, as I am certain that I would not have been able to stand for the full length of time that I was in there.  I am almost certain that I will lose weight during the course of the event as I will be in a huge calorie deficit, but will try my best to continue eating larger amounts over the following days, in the hope that I will quickly regain any weight lost and can continue with my training.  Before I was a runner, calories were the only stat on an ingredients list that I would ever take any notice of and now, the only reason I choose to take notice of them is to ensure I am getting enough in.

My dentist wouldn’t be impressed with the amount of sugar I plan on taking on board, although I seem to be within the target set for someone completing that amount of exercise.  Although my choices aren’t the healthiest, I feel that on this one occasion, it is more important that I get the energy on board by the way my body can cope best with – this just happens to be via chocolate milk and nakd bars(!)

I shall be carb loading before the event, and also increase my protein in the days immediately following the race to help aid recovery.  I might add some meat to my pizza but as I don’t consume huge quantities of meat anyway, and as it is not something I ever find myself ‘craving’ I don’t want to overdo it on this occasion and spoil my race.

I have thought about what strain goes on my body not only for competing in a 70 mile event.  But also, what strain goes on my body for taking on board such huge quantities of food over such a short course of time.  It is such a large task, – there must be some.

Do you think fueling for long races affects the body?
What snacks/food do you use to fuel your longer workouts?