Believe it or not but I don’t always eat unpackaged, unprocessed food. And I don’t always eat whole foods. You see I love to run and I’m currently training for an ultra trail race. An ultra is anything longer than a marathon, which is 42.2km (or 42.195km to be exact). I’m not fast and that means I’m out running for a long time so I need to eat something along the way.
Running and training on trails means I need to carry my own food and water. Last weekend I was out running in the Nerang State Forest for around three and a half hours on both Saturday and Sunday. I’m training for the UTA50 – which is a 50km trail race through the beautiful Blue Mountains west of Sydney. The elevation of the race is ridiculous, which is part of its appeal. The way I see it is there will be magnificent views along the way. The course has approximately 2200m of total climb and descent:
Part of my training program was to do a tough trail course back to back – to prepare for running on tired legs. It also helps mentally because I really would have liked to have slept in on the Sunday morning as a reward for the hard run on Saturday, but I had to get up and run again. I’m also a bit of a numbers/details geek, so here is the Strava record of my run at Nerang ‘Double Loop’.
This run had less than 1000m of elevation. So the Ultra Trail will be tougher!
I’m really excited about the race. I’ve never run 50km before. I’ve run one marathon, which was in Amsterdam in 2015 and that course was as flat as a pancake – minus the mashed banana!
I’ve been training for this event specifically since February and the event is in May. I’ve had a small hip injury so it looks like I’ll be out on the course for around 9 hours. I’m hoping it will be less, but I’ll be happy with my time if it has a 9 at the front (even 8:59).
Running (and walking and hiking and climbing up and down stairs) for 9 hours means I need to eat food along the way. I’d love it if I could have a big bowl of fruit when I’m running, but I can’t see that happening. Unless you want to meet me somewhere along the way with a bowl of pineapple and watermelon and banana and passionfruit?
Running and nutrition takes a bit of experimentation. I once took a banana with me on a long run and it didn’t end well. I don’t know what I was thinking but a banana jumping up and down in a bag in warm conditions is not going to be alright to eat after a couple of hours. It almost made me gag. I have a friend who eats cold roast potatoes with salt. I haven’t been organised enough to try that. I think I’d like it, but it’s probably a little difficult to carry potatoes around.
So at the moment I’m using Hammer Perpetuem solids. They are chunky tablets that provide calories, carbs and electrolytes. I take one every 20-30 minutes. And every few hours I will eat a Hammer bar. I’ve tried a few different things and the tablets and bars seem to give me the nutrition I need when I’m running, as well as being compact and easy to carry, easy to eat and I don’t need to guzzle water with them, unlike gels. Three tablets give me 100 calories and 20g carbs according to the info on their website.
Each day on my run last weekend I expended over 2000 calories, and ate around 10 Perpetuem Solids. So I took in around 340 calories. I have to say I didn’t feel hungry when I finished, but I was craving fruit. I came home and made a big Açai bowl topped with fruit.
I also carried a backpack with water – around 2 litres, and drank around 1.5 litres; and a small bottle with a concentrated electrolyte drink to have if I’m feeling really hot.
So there you have it. A sneak peek into my not-so whole foods. However, I do think that what is important is what I eat 99 per cent of the time, not just the few hours I spend out on the trails. That’s what gives me the energy to do the things I love to do – the long runs and the long rides. Good quality, whole foods. Organic whole foods. Sure I do eat some packaged, processed food but it’s definitely the exception, not the rule.
I find the more I eat whole foods, the more I crave whole foods – fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.