Fuelling your next Ultramarathon!
An ultramarathon is any running event that's longer than the traditional 26.2-mile marathon distance. While most ultramarathons are run on trails, some are also held on roads. No matter what the terrain, one thing all ultramarathons have in common is that they're gruelling endurance tests that push runners to their limits.
If you're training for an ultramarathon, it's important to make sure you're properly fuelled. That means consuming enough calories and nutrients to give your body the energy it needs to keep going, mile after mile. In this blog post, I'll share some of the basics on how to fuel for your ultramarathon so you can cross that finish line feeling strong.
How to Fuel for Your Ultramarathon
1. Carb load before the big day.
Just like marathon runners, ultrarunners need to carb load before their event. Carb loading is a way of boosting your glycogen stores, which are the energy reserves stored in your muscles and liver. By carb loading in the days leading up to your race, you can ensure your body has enough glycogen to get you through those tough miles. And note that I say "the days leading up to your race", this means a gradual build up of carbs over those days, NOT a massive pile of pasta the night before!
2. Eat a mix of simple and complex carbs during the race.
During an ultramarathon, your body will burn through glycogen at an alarming rate, more than you think! That's why it's important to replenish your stores by consuming carbs while you run. However, not all carbs are created equal. Simple carbs like sweeties or sports drinks can give you a quick boost of energy, but they don't provide lasting benefits. Complex carbs like rice or potatoes take longer to break down and digest, but they'll give you sustained energy over a longer period of time. As a general rule of thumb, aim to eat about 60-90 grams of carbs per hour during your race.
3. Don't forget about protein and fat.
While carbs are the key fuel for ultrarunning, protein and fat are also important nutrients that can help you perform at your best. Protein helps repair muscle tissue damaged during long runs, while fat provides a slower-burning source of energy. These should form a key part of your overall daily diet during your training, not just the week of the race! FOOD IS FUEL!
4. Stay hydrated with electrolytes
Hydration is crucial for all runners, but it's especially important for ultrarunners who are covering such long distances. Make sure you're drinking enough fluids throughout your training runs so you're used to running with water or an electrolyte drink like Torq's hydration or energy drinks powders, which are my go to brand. During the race itself, hydration plays a huge part and you will need to consume anywhere between 400-1000ml per hour depening on how much of a sweater you are!
Fueling properly is key to having a successful ultramarathon experience—after all, if your body doesn't have enough energy, it won't be able to go the distance, or it'll certainly make it harder! By following the tips above, you can make sure you're properly fuelled for whatever lies ahead on race day. Bonne course!