Fueling for an Ultramarathon

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Fueling for an Ultramarathon

Postby jselch » Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:33 am

I'm a 100-pound ultra runner hoping to make the switch to Hammer products.

I've always targeted 200cal/hr and carry all that I will need (I use drop bags to divvy up the load). I have not had any problems (bonking, GI upset, etc.) with this strategy, but wonder whether I could be doing better.

I'd like to get away from the refined sugars used in some of my other products; I would also like more protein and BCAAs as I've found them to really help in recovery while training.

For my upcoming race, I'm likely to be out for 27-32 hours over 100 miles.
I will be about 1.5-2 hours between aid stations - water.
And, from 5-9 hours (avg 7) between drop bags - nutrition.

Current plan is to carry:
1 bottle water
1 bottle multi-hour Perpetuem (100cal/hr)
1-2 flasks Hammer Gel (100cal/hr)

But... all of the information I've seen from Hammer regarding Perpetuem use seems to suggest that I can use it as my sole fuel source and only need 101cal/hr (because it is so nutrient-rich).
Really? Am I really taking in more than I need? (You can tell by my times, I'm no speed demon.)
If so, I'd love to skinny things down and go with 2 bottles of water (maybe put some Heed in one of them for variety), Perpetuem solids and some Hammer Gel.

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Re: Fueling for an Ultramarathon

Postby steve-born » Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:56 pm

Hello Liz -

You have many, many options to choose from in terms of your fueling protocol. Yes, you could go solely on Perpetuem; however, if you're going to be out there for 27+ hours I think you'll really want some variety in your fueling... going solely on Perpetuem, while it would definitely work, would get really old after awhile.

In my opinion, "proper fueling" is consuming the LEAST amount of calories necessary to keep your body doing what you want it to do hour after hour. The reason I believe that way is because it's a lot easier to fix a "not enough calories" problem than it is an "uh oh, I overdid it on the calories and now my stomach is rebelling" problem.

Now, if you have found that 200 calories an hour works well for you then that's what you should go with. Don't be a slave to that caloric intake, however; if your body is saying "I need you to cut back on the calories for a little while" by all means listen to it. Remember, you can always consume more calories if you find yourself running at a deficit... that's an easy problem to resolve. A bigger problem to resolve is when you put to many calories into your body... at the very least your stomach will not be a happy camper for a little while.

We seem to keep lowering our suggested intake for Perpetuem based on the feedback we've received from numerous athletes... they keep telling us they perform extremely well on less calories using Perpetuem, mainly because it is so concentrated (I call it a "meal in a bottle" because it contains carbs, protein, and fat).

Personally, I think you would do well using 1 scoop of Perpetuem per hour. That would give you 135 calories, which I think might be spot on for you. And again, if you feel that you need a few more you can always consume some Hammer Gel (80-90 calories per serving, depending on flavor) or Perpetuem Solids (33.3 calories per chewable tablet) or HEED (100 calories per scoop).

The main thing is that, if you feel that 200 calories an hour is working for you, far be it from me to tell you to change. Yes, in training you might want to give a lower hourly calorie intake a try and if see how it works for you. If you find that it does in fact works well, great. But if you've already got your nutritional "game plan" set for the race then go with it, knowing that you can always alter it - increasing or decreasing your intake - on an as-needed basis.

Another thing to remember is that all of the Hammer Nutrition fuels are compatible with each other so you can mix-and-match them if desired... just keep your total hourly calorie intake - from all food/fuel sources - within the right range for you. At this time, your "right range" is 200 calories an hour so total up everything that you eat (whether it's solid food or Hammer fuels) and make sure you're within that "right range." Personally, I think you might be able to do well on less calories but unless you have time to test it in training, let's keep you at around 200 calories/hour.

I hope this information will be helpful to you, Liz. If you need more specific information or assistance please let me know... happy to help.

Sincerely -

Steve Born
Fueling Expert
Event Sponsorship Coordinator
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Re: Fueling for an Ultramarathon

Postby jselch » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:40 pm

Thanks Steve.
I've revised my plan (originally a mix of Perpetuem & Hammer Gel) to be Perpetuem Solids, Hammer Gel, and Heed. More variety and flexibility - still carrying 200cal/hr.
BTW - I never really determined that 200cal/hr was right for me; I started out that way, had not problems, and so stuck with it.
I'll let you know how it goes.
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Re: Fueling for an Ultramarathon

Postby PowerGoat » Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:48 pm

Hi Liz,

It sounds like you won't have any crew, and so you'll be taking care of all fueling needs yourself via drop bags. Correct?

If so, your new idea is better than your original, but I would like to offer a few things to think about.

1) I'd suggest that you carry two bottles (or a racing vest, like a Nathan) for water: one would be plain water and the other would be for a serving or two of Perpetuem. If your expected 1.5 - 2 hours between stations hits a SNAFU--like getting lost, getting overly hot, getting slower than you expect, coming across someone who needs serious help--then you'll be doomed running over 2 hours in the middle of a long race with one hour's worth of water. If you have to scale back on your water intake b/c your other bottle is concentrated Perpetuem, you'll have issues. If you wanted to do two bottles of regular or slightly stronger HEED instead of plain water, this would be fine: your body can handle that easily, like water.

2) I think a Ziploc bag of Perpetuem powder gives you more calories in less space than an equal weight of Perpetuem solids, and would also be easier to carry. You'll have to check on this.

3) I'd suggest a Ziploc bag of a mix of 2 servings of Sustained Energy plus 1 servings of HEED instead of a 3-serving flask of Hammer Gel. It would take up more space, but would be lighter to carry, give you more than just CHO, and would still give you a different flavor in your mouth.

So, in every drop bag, about 5-9 hours apart according to your calculations, you'd want enough fuel to go 9 hours. In your drop bag, I'd suggest storing and then retrieving a lunch bag with three items in it. Just grab the lunch bag and go to the water tables. The three items are: #1, a Ziploc bag with 6 servings' worth of Perpetuem, a second Ziploc with a combo of 2 servings of SE and one of HEED, and third Ziploc with a Hammer Bar and some Endurolytes.

At each drop station, get your lunch bag first and find the Perpetuem Ziploc. Pour 1/6 of the amount or scoop a serving into your current water bottle immediately, squeeze the air out and seal the baggie, then store it in your shorts, hip pack, etc. Store the other two Ziplocs. Toss the paper lunch bag. Fill your bottles with water. Go.

At each water stop after that, as you see the station, start walking. Take out one of the baggies, pour a serving of whichever powder you want next into the water bottle (done while walking to the aid station to save time), fill up both bottles with plain water, and walk right out.

Doing it this way makes it easy to find your fuel, easy to remember what to do at each station, and is quick.

And if you find that you are not using as much as you expected, simply leave one of the Ziploc bags behind at a fueling station--just be SURE you don't need it!

Good luck.

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Re: Fueling for an Ultramarathon

Postby jselch » Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:39 pm

Thanks for the ideas Byron.
At this point, I'm comfortable with my plan. And I do have two "drinkable" bottles of fluids - a definite oversight in my original idea.
I'm not new to caring for myself during an ultra - just new to Hammer products. (Things were a lot simpler and more compact with my old products!) We'll see how this little experiment turns out...
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