Race day is just around the corner! Two days until my next ultra: the Eastern Divide 50k located near Blacksburg, VA and I'm getting pretty pumped! Yesterday I took some time to gather up all my gear and came to a realization: I think A LOT about food. (Though given that I've studied nutrition for 7 years now, I feel like that's pretty normal!) I've been planning ahead for this race but one thing I've been tweaking for quite a while now is how I will specifically fuel myself to get through 5+ hours of running. Running 30 miles through the mountains is not going to be easy and I'd be kidding myself to think it will be the same as running on the coastal flatlands.
Since I'll be burning upwards of 3,000 calories during this race, I'm going to need a lot of fuel to get me to the finish line. Overall my goal is to take in roughly 200 kcal/hour or about 1000 calories total. It will be difficult, especially with the heat, but I know I'll need the energy later in the race. (On a side note, check out this interesting article on training the gut for optimal nutrition with minimal GI distress during endurance competitions...that's next on my list of things to work on)
Anyway, here's a look at what I'll be utilizing nutrition-wise this weekend:
This past year I've really invested a lot of time and energy in to tweaking my race day nutrition. In the past I took the "nutrition of the fly" approach and it lead to unpredictable results. Some races went well, and others not so well. And while I don't have my nutrition down to a science quite yet, I've learned a lot about what works well for me and have been practicing. I've started to implement some evidence-based nutritional strategies (i.e. beet juice and caffeine for performance enhancement and tart cherry juice for recovery) to hopefully boost my success come race day. Long runs or long workouts in general are a great time to simulate race day nutrition and making necessary adjustments. Everything pictured below has been thoroughly tested through a number of trials. So now you're probably thinking, what are my plans for all these items?! Here's a quick overview:
I've used all of these amazing foods to fuel some stellar long runs and now I can't wait to see it in action for the real deal. I don't expect my fueling strategy to be perfect, but it has certainly come a long ways. The race will be challenging as I have been training on zero elevation, but I've been looking forward to racing on my "home" turf for quite a while now! It's go time... see you soon Blacksburg!
Disclaimer: Please note that I am not paid or compensated in any way to promote specific products. I am simply sharing my personal preferences. At the same time, everyone's race day nutrition is different and specific and please don't assume what works well for me will automatically work well for you! Always practice your nutrition in practice- nothing new on race day!
There is no doubt that a growing trend is to see more and more vegan or vegetarian athletes. Two recent articles from famous endurance athletes Scott Jurek, ultramarathoner, and Lance Armstrong, elite cyclist and more recently elite triathlete, serve as inspiration for today's post. What's it like to follow a plant-based diet as an endurance athlete? Why do it, and is it nutritionally sufficient? These are some of the questions I'll try to address in some upcoming posts.
Scott Jurek made me super proud through two statements in his recent Runner's World article, "Eat Vegan and Run." First, he makes the connection between diet quality and physical performance:
"I didn't run harder. I had been right: I couldn't run harder. But I could eat smarter. I could live smarter. I knew I could keep going when others stopped. I knew I had good legs and good lungs. I wasn't just a runner now; I was a racer. And I was a mindful eater."
Second, thanks to Jurek for the shout out to my professional organization, the Academy of Nutrition of Dietetics, and touching on the nutritional adequacy of vegan/vegetarian diets:
"I also learned that even the conservative Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of dietary professionals in the world, has stated: 'Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including ...pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.' Those last two words were music to my almost-vegetarian ultrarunner's ears. As long as I ate a varied whole-foods diet with adequate caloric intake, I would get enough complete protein"
As previously mentioned, Lance Armstrong has also adopted a 'mostly vegan' diet. That is, he is eating vegan two meals a day: breakfast and lunch. In a recent Huffington Post Interview, Armstrong touted the energy benefits of his recent dietary changes:
"My energy level has never been this consistent, and not just consistent, but high...The other thing -- I expected to get rid of that dip, but I didn’t expect the mental side of it, and the sharpness and the focus that I’ve noticed."
Armstrong is following what is called the Engine 2 Diet, something I had not heard of until recently. It's a "plant-powered" eating plan based on a diet of whole foods, including whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. (Update: looks like doping-allegations were brought against Armstrong today...impeccable timing on my part!)
So why are some top athletes following a plant-based lifestyle? In my next post I'll address the benefits of adopting a plant-based, whole foods approach to fueling your life and your workouts!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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