How to get your nutrition right for a big ultra

This is a question a lot of us ask, and for the most part it’s a pretty hard one to answer too. Sometimes we have races where we get it right and everything goes brilliantly to plan. More often than not though, we’ll experience bad stomachs, have sugar highs (and lows), and sometimes even vomit by not understanding just how many calories or types of food we need to consume when we run.

When we embark on races, and in our training too it can be very hit and miss as it’s often an after-thought for most newbies to the sport. We focus on the running part and the physical fitness side of things, and perhaps forget that to actually keep our bodies going, the fuel we put in it is just as important, if not more so.

We experiment and try lots of different things, and up until about a month ago I was still trying different things – the taste of something can be very important too. Do we go savoury, or do you prefer sweet?  There was a time when I used to run on sausage rolls, cheese sandwiches, lollies and to be honest, pretty much anything. I think I was even chewing on salami sticks in the North Face 100km in 2009. No wonder it took me the best part of 18 hours to finish 🙂

But how many of us have actually worked out the precise number of calories we need to consume each hour to keep our bodies going? How can we avoid those sugar highs and lows? What’s the right balance and combination for us as an individual?

If you’re looking for the magic answer, then hopefully this little article from our own Andrew Vize will help you a little along the way. Indeed, Hammer is a big part of our nutrition when it comes not only to training, but races too. It’s important to note that we’re not paid by Hammer in any way here, we use the products because we believe in them – it’s as simple as that. So with that little caveat out of the way, have a read of what Andrew has to say by clicking this link. It’s not for everyone we know, but hopefully there’s some useful information in there for people embarking on their first ultra as the big races take place in the next few months.

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Dan
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

8 thoughts on “How to get your nutrition right for a big ultra

  1. I think one of the best approach in the market is 9BARS from the UK. They make cereal bars without grains, so no gluten. There are no puffs inside, like sugar or rice puffs. Only nuts and seeds: hemp, pumpkin, flax, sesame, almond, cashew, Brazilian nuts, also carob and spirulina. No additional ingredients, no processed stuff in them at all, total natural. They use honey as a sticky agent.
    The carbs and the nutrients will keep you flying, but the high fat content of the seeds make your digestion gradual, so there won’t be glucose spikes in the blood. In addition to the high omega fat content, they are rich in protein, and due to the variety of seeds I think it is complete protein, anyway spirulina is complete and instant.
    Unfortunaltely I cannot get the brand here in France, but If I raced in the UK I would take them.

    (If you have seen the video interview of Bryon P. of Irunfar with the winner of MDS. The guy says his main nutrition during the race was fresh dates from his garden. )

  2. Thanks for the tip Levi. Hammer uses only 100% natural ingredients too I believe, part of the reason I like using them. I think the whole thing about liquid food rings very true too. I’ve used Perpetuem on a number of occasions now and it’s just solid. A constant flow of energy and no highs of lows. Will have a look at those bars though too!

  3. Personally, I like to eat banana nutella sandwiches with no crusts out of a large comfy shoe and wash it down with a high caffeine mix of glutamine, spirulina, beta-alanein, maltodextrin and high dose vitamin c powder.

  4. My wife runs best on BBQ meats. Feed her gels, gus, powerbars – whatever – and she will flag. Give her a chicken burger and she takes off like a rocket afterwards.

    There is no magic formula for everyone. It takes time and experimentation.

  5. Got a query in with Dave Williams at Hammer to see what he thinks about adding the endurolyte powder to perpetuem powder. would do away with having to remember to swallow the endurolyte caps every 30 mins.

    Will let you know what he comes back with. Just trying to simplify the need for pills and powders out there.

  6. Hey guys,

    Great post. It’s awesome to find some simple, easy to use info coming out of Australia. Very happy.

    Some questions for Andrew:
    1. did you get a response from Dave Williams at Hammer re mixing endurolyte and perpetuem??
    2. I’ve read the post you wrote over at hammer (fueling for GNW100s – nice pic of TNF100 btw) and was wondering: a) how to practice this method during shorter training runs (e.g. <2hrs) and b) how far into an event will you start consuming calories?

    Thanks a bundle in advance.

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