Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ultra Eating

I need to mention that everything written in this post, is all about what works for me in regards to fueling and running ultra distances. Even though I have been running since 1994, I have only been running ultras since 2007. In fact to date, I have only done two events over 50 miles (Delano Park 12 Hour event- 70 miles and KEYS 100). So the reality is that I am still learning about myself and what works for me.

On Saturday, I am about to do something that I have never done before which is 1)going over 40 miles on trails, and 2)run a 100K which is 63 miles. Bartram 100K will have two aid stations on the 5.25 mile course, however, there are a few specific items that I will be bringing to this event outside of what will be offered.

It fascinates me to see what serious runners eat while running races. I've seen Sean Blanton (Crazy Sean) eat a huge piece of cheesecake out of a box at the beginning of Callaway Gardens marathon and Mike Melton grab two Crispy Creme donuts after the 5 mile mark at the Nashville 80K. On the other hand, I have seen others, I won't mention any names, who can't stomach anything hardly without nausea and vomiting.

In general,  I am a grazer while I'm running. I don't do well eating very much at one time and have found that if I overeat after the event, I can become slightly ill. As much as I enjoy the food provided post-race, I really need to hold back somewhat in order to not feel sick. I have given up asking Ami Roach if she would like something to eat after our events because she is unable to eat until later in the evening.

During an ultra distance event, I consume food at every aid station. Sometimes I find it difficult to eat in the heat, which I believe is common for a lot of runners. During KEYS100 and Hot to Trot 8 hr (in August), fresh fruit was the answer for me. My crew, Stacey and Whitney handed me oranges and strawberries and it hit the spot every time. They forced me to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, too but the fruit was what truly made me happy. At Hot to Trot, the watermelon was the most delicious watermelon that I have ever tasted in my life. After every loop (little over a mile) I found myself reaching for the watermelon and it definitely helped keep me going.

Here is a more specific list of how I fuel in ultras and I'm still experimenting:

3)salt tabs
4)peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
5)potato chips or any chips that I see.
6)strawberries, watermelon, oranges (I stay away from apples, bananas, and grapes during the event)
7)anything with salt
8)Coke or Diet coke
9)maybe chocolate if it looks good at that moment
10) and of course, H20

Do's and Don'ts

1)I am careful to not drink too much gatorade.
2) I absolutely dislike Heed.
3)I will do Red Bull if I really need caffeine.
4)I avoid gels like the plague.
5) I only drink when I'm thirsty, based on how much I perspire.
6)I need to be careful to not forget to take salt tabs. I hate swallowing things so I will forget).
7)I can't eat anything with cheese in it. It will give me heartburn while running.

I added a few more items to try at Bartram 100K. I figure if they don't get eaten at the event, they will certainly be eaten at home.

The turkey jerky was already eaten by my son so maybe I will try it in my next ultra. 


  1. Thanks, Beth! This gives me ideas for future ultras.

  2. very good info...I haven't done anything over 40 miles, but I have decided that chocolate is the perfect ultra too sweet, a hint of caffeine and it is easy on my belly. I am also glad to hear someone else doesn't like heed!


  3. I feel like every race is different for me, regardless of how I train with food. Sometimes gels are great and other times just thinking about them makes me gag. I could never drink carbonated drinks at races until the last two, and chocolate is hit or miss for me. Chicken noodle soup is my all time, never fail, go to source of calories whilst running.