How Not to Fuel during an Ultramarathon
BY HAMMER NUTRITION
Ultramarathons are no joke, especially when it comes to fueling and nutrition. While they look like big picnics with some running thrown in, race day events require intensive planning, and there are some common assumptions about fueling on race day that are just plain trouble. Let’s unpack seven typical fueling mistakes and find the best alternatives from Hammer Nutrition to make your first or fiftieth ultramarathon a success rather than a DNF.
ULTRAMARATHON STRATEGIES TO AVOID
1. Don’t think: Eat ALL the calories—I’ll need it! Unless you enjoy a wide variety of stomach distress issues that oftentimes end with you puking your guts out, be wise with your calorie consumption. Forget about trying to replace the calories you burn with equal or near-equal amounts from your fuel . . . that “strategy” will always fail! As our Secrets of Success manual explains, your body can efficiently handle an intake of 120 to 180 calories per hour, an amount that also permits your body to tap into the calories in its fatty acid reserves. Since fatty acids naturally satisfy nearly two-thirds of our energy requirements during exercise, you simply don’t need to ingest too many calories from your fuel. Don’t overdo it! The intestinal distress is not worth it.
2. Don’t think: I only need a small hand-held bottle for hydration. It’s what the elites use, so it’s enough for me, too! Hydration is a big deal. What most pictures of elite runners don’t show is (a) how much the athlete is actually consuming and (b) how often the runner is refilling the bottles. I can guarantee the race pictures are NOT showing how many times they refill! There are some fantastic hydration packs and waist belts available that provide ample carrying capacity for hydration, fuels, and gear. Aim to consume 20 to 25 ounces of water per hour to maintain proper hydration . . . and don’t forget your electrolytes!
3. Don’t think: I can eat any and all of the aid station food while I race. It’s there to help me. Have you seen some of the fare served at aid stations? Most of it is a sugar fest! As tempting as these snacks are, they absolutely do not sustain our bodies with the critical ingredients needed for energy, nor do they provide support to our lean muscle mass in long-duration efforts. The chance for increased muscle soreness and damage due to muscle cannibalization is greater when you use short-chain carbohydrates and junk food. Junk in = junk out, so pick your fuels wisely! If you need carbohydrates and muscle support for longterm effort, use Perpetuem, Perpetuem Solids, or Sustained Energy for your primary fuel source, augmenting that, if desired, with Hammer Gel.
4. Don’t think: I should load up on salt capsules to replace all the salt I’ll sweat out during the race. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: We sweat more than just salt. A salt capsule may provide some relief, albeit only temporarily, but to avoid cramps, a broad spectrum of electrolytes are needed. Endurolytes contain a well-balanced blend of sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese to more completely satisfy the body’s electrolyte requirements during workouts or events. Take a dose of capsules hourly or drop an effervescent Endurolytes Fizz tablet in your water
5. Don’t think: All gels are the same. Sugar is the best fuel for providing quick energy. Many popular gels market glucose, sucrose, and/or fructose as great ways to fuel up during races. Plenty of articles claim that “quick energy in novelty flavors” is the key to successful performance. But beneath the hype and popularity, these products aren’t providing any long-lasting benefits. Take a look at their nutrition information. It’s no wonder most people who use them either get GI distress or burn out way too soon. In fact, it would take excessive amounts of sugar gel to come close to sustaining energy for exercise. The effective solution is to fuel with Hammer Nutrition’s gels. They contain maltodextrin, a long-chain complex carbohydrate that provides delicious and nutritious energy without causing GI distress or a strain on your wallet!
6. Don’t think: Taking “Vitamin I” will alleviate my soreness and discomfort. It’s only really interacting with pain receptors, providing instant relief at a far worse cost. Discomfort should not be synthetically masked—discomfort is our body’s way of letting us know there’s a problem that needs attention. Give your body a break by addressing muscle and joint soreness with Tissue Rejuvenator or one of our CBD products for natural support without negative, health-affecting repercussions down the road.
7. Don’t think: When I finish racing, I can eat whatever I want—I just ran x-number of miles, after all! Just because we run endurance races doesn’t mean we should be human garbage disposals after crossing the finish line! I’m not saying that a post-race beer or “reward” food is out, but we have to address recovery first with high-quality carbohydrates and protein. Get that in your system first to kickstart the all-important recovery process! Mix up a serving of Recoverite or Vegan Recoverite and consume it shortly after you finish. The sooner, the better. Doing so will provide your body exactly what it needs after a hard effort: complex carbohydrates, whey or pea protein, electrolytes, and key auxiliary nutrients. Do this first before you crack open that post-race beer or devour that cheeseburger . . . your body will thank you immensely!