Eating on the run – Biggest nutrition mistakes
“It’s an eating competition”
That’s what Sensei Vize said to me after the North Face 100 this year. Yep, it sure is I thought as I lay there light-headed and completely smashed on the sofas in the hallway of the Fairmont resort. I’d barely eaten a thing for the last 60kms of the race and had suffered severe stomach cramps for the best part of around 75kms of the race too.
I’m still not exactly sure what happened to be honest. I have my nutrition for races pretty much battened down to a tee and I’m a fairly simple chap in this regard. Bottles of Perpetuem, some gels and then maybe the odd bit of solid food towards the latter stages. But for some reason, along Narrowneck my stomach just wasn’t playing ball that day. I mainly put it down to going out too hard – that’s generally the cause I feel. The same thing happened at the Great Ocean Walk 100 in October last year too.
So in short, it happens to us all and it’s probably the one thing that even the elites will still struggle with from time to time too. We can nail our gear selection, do the training… but on the day nutrition can go out the window. In light of this we ran a competition recently in conjunction with Hammer Australia to win some seats to the table of a seminar being given by the godfather of all things food and drink in races, Steve Born. We had some great entries, so thought it only fair that we shared these with you as well!
Stephen Bowers sent us this one that made us smile and is a good learning for us… Don’t make up your race drinks too early! “My worst mistake was for my first marathon. I read all the literature as you do and mixed up my sports drinks and put them in the right boxes all decorated so I could spot them on the course. Trouble was the bottles I used were not sterile enough and I also made the drink up too many days before. When I eventually opened the bottles at the stations, they went hiss. They had fermented in the bottles and I missed out on a few drinks. I suffered from real bad cramps but I was so over the moon finishing my first marathon. Looking back now it was a pretty stupid mistake.”
Jeremy Gordon did what probably all of us have done at some point or another and that’s do something completely new for a race, “I once did a 100 km MTB ride and blew up completely by 70 KMS. the night before the race I went to the expo area and was taken by some new chews that had just been launched by a gel company.I thought the chew packet was the equivalent of 6 gels and thought they would last me the race ( I expecting a time between 6-7 hours) Turned out they were similar to one gel or equivalent. Needless to say I suffered big time and DNF’d.”
Oli Zambon is probably well-known to quite a few of you guys too as one of the lads at the pointy end of the field. But as we said, even the top guys can make the odd mistake here and there and Oli did a very similar thing to Jeremy above, “My biggest nutrition mistake would have been at Stromlo 12hr in February. I decided to use Gu Roctane instead of Perpetuem, thinking it would be more convenient to carry gels rather than mix Perpetuem through the night. However I hadn’t used Roctane for over six months and it soon became clear that my stomach no longer liked it. The rest of the long night was marked by severe stomach discomfort, a lot of wasted time running to the bathroom, and eventually, dehydration and ‘depletion’ from several hours of being unable to assimilate sufficient water and nutrients. I felt pretty awful during and after the race and my recovery took much longer than from any other race I have done.
No problems during the week. I felt fantastic the night before and even race morning. The swim went well, the first half of the bike was good, but in the last portion of the bike my guts started doing back flips and causing a lot of pain. I suffered through it and got onto the run.
Well the next 21.1km run was when my body decided to eliminate all that excess magnesium. Bouts of abdo pain resulted me in making stops at every single port-a-loo on the course. Sometimes after getting just a couple hundred meters up the road I was forced to return back to the toilet. The magnesium drew a massive amount of water back into my intestines that quickly made its way out of me.
Over that 21.1km I think I made 18 toilet stops. The dehydration and resultant electrolyte disturbance took a bit of getting over.“