As the FANS 12 hour race nears I figured it’s a good time to examine what is and isn’t working so I can fine tune the upcoming months training and potentially the race itself.
NUTRITION BEFORE A RUN
This is still being fine-tuned but I know that at Icebox I had zero stomach issues and so I’ve examined what I did there. The week before Icebox I adjusted my diet. I increased my protein for days 1-3 and took in a lot of liquid (for me that means Sobe Zero because I’m addicted). On day 4 I dialed way back on the protein and upped the carbs. I ate large amounts of simple carbs from day 4 up until the race. I ate nearly no fiber and minimal amounts of protein and fat. I also drank Sobe Zero and water constantly to the point I was peeing pretty much every hour. The day before the race, I added in high salt foods, kept the carbs simple and continued with the liquid. For dinner I had white pasta. On the morning of the race I had my usual bagel. This worked well for me as I had no nausea, no poop issues (if you’ve read my blog this is a rarity), and no indigestion whatsoever. I also completed 50K with minimal wear and tear though my training to that point had only been half marathons. I’d say that this fueling technique may work for me. I need to give it another go to be sure.
NUTRITION DURING A RUN
Tailwind. I’ve been training with plain flavored Tailwind for a while now. It’s carried me through long runs, Zumbro, and Chippewa. I’ve only had one case of digestive issues and that was likely due to poor eating/sleeping the night before. My energy doesn’t dip when I use it and I haven’t had muscle cramping. I use 2 heaping scoops per 16oz and chug about 6 -8 oz. every 40 minutes. Likely I could get away with less as I still supplement with other things, but as it’s working I’m not going to change it for now.
Vanilla Power Bar PowerGel. This is the only gel that has caused zero stomach upset and doesn’t taste gross. The gel is easy to open, easy to swallow, and I don’t need to take any water with it. I use these pretty randomly. During Icebox, when I hadn’t yet discovered Tailwind, I used 5 gels. During Zumbro when I was using Tailwind, I used one. During Chippewa, again on Tailwind, I used 2. I’m unsure if I actually need the gels or if they just psychologically give me a boost. I’ll continue to use them “as my mind tells me to”
S-caps. When it’s extremely hot out, these are helpful. When it’s cold they’re not really needed. Again, since I moved to Tailwind, I haven’t really used them much but I do take one when I notice I’m sweating profusely. At Icebox, I stuck to a regimen of 1 every 60 minutes and had no issues. At Zumbro I took one through the entire race, about 3 hours in when I started to taste salt dripping into my mouth. At Chippewa, I took 1 at 2 hours and then forgot I had them. I’ve never developed dizziness, swelling of the hands, or symptoms of electrolyte imbalance other than at Ragnar last year when I hadn’t yet started using Tailwind or S-caps.
PB&J. A nice wedge of PB&J on soft white bread seems to satisfy the need for ‘solid’ food deep into a long run and causes no digestive issues for me. I can carry it as I run slowly and munch while I run. There’s no burping or nausea and it seems to sit well in my stomach allowing me to just move on nicely in the run or race.
NUTRITION POST RUN
This is too variable as of yet for me to analyze. I haven’t noticed faster recovery with any specific foods. I do crave salt and meat and so that’s what I tend to eat.
Amphipod belt. This belt has served me really well on long runs, in Icebox, at Zumbro , in Ron Dawes, and at Chippewa. The bottle is 20oz and easily accessible. I have two front pouches though I only use one currently. The front pouch holds a zip bag full of s-caps, some gin gins (which I haven’t used yet), 4 gels, and some chap stick. The bottle holder has a zipper area that has room for some Band-Aids, ibuprofen, chewable pepto, pins, and Neosporin. It’s contoured so it sits on my back perfectly and has never caused any chafing. The amphipod doesn’t bounce or ride up and has other attachments that can be purchased separately like additional water bottles, pouches, and more. As long as there are reasonably spaced aid stations, this is really all I need.
Body Glide. I’ve tried other anti-chafing creams and gels and keep coming back to body glide. I really only use it on the balls of my feet and between my toes. I don’t even know if I need it anymore. I haven’t had a single blister on my feet since I started putting this on and so I’m not going to stop.
Saucony Pallidum Packable Jacket. This is an extremely lightweight jacket that blocks the wind and has a hood. It can be crumpled up so small it can be stuffed in a pocket making it perfect to take on a long run that has variable weather. It’s been used more times than I can count and works perfectly to keep me just warm enough. It was definitely a good investment.
Altra shoes—Lone Peak 1.5 and Intuition 1.5. I’ve jumped around from shoe to shoe and now have finally stuck to these. With the Altra’s I don’t get foot fatigue and still get the flexibility and comfort that I’m used to. I don’t suspect I’ll be changing brands anytime soon.
There is a lot of other gear I use off and on that works fantastically, however the above list is gear that accompanies me on nearly every long run. I could list my Garmin 301xt also in this list, as it is definitely tried and true, however I’ve been running more and more without it and so I no longer consider it essential gear. If you’re in the hunt for a GPS watch, I will say it’s a great one to consider and has an amazing battery life.
I have no loyalty to clothing or socks so there won’t be a section for that. I am all for trying something new on race day in this category and have never had a problem. Sorry to disappoint!
What Doesn’t Work
NUTRITION BEFORE A RUN
Pizza Hut….and all greasy meat pizzas. Ok this was recently learned. I still have hurt feelings so Pizza Hut and I are not on speaking terms right now. You may be wondering why I even attempted pizza the night before a 50k. If you’ve followed my race reports, I actually get along well with greasy meat pizza..Or at least I thought I did. Before Ragnar in 2012 I had greasy meat pizza. This was the first time I had tried this and it was also the first time I was able to pull of three consecutive runs without racing for the porta potty or wooded area. Me and greasy meat pizza became friends. Turns out that was sort of a fluke as I tried it multiple times after that and examining those endeavors there was always a mid-race OH NO moment. It’s time I break up with greasy meat pizza for good.
Fiber in the two days prior to a race or long run. This took me time to learn and some nutrition tracking. I didn’t realize how much fiber I was taking in until I counted it on an android app. It turns out prior to cutting back, I was inhaling over 90g of fiber per day sometimes I even cracked the 100 mark. No wonder I always felt like I was going to poop my pants when I ran. I scaled back to 50g, which is still a lot of fiber and started running in the woods. Prior to long runs and races I cut my fiber down to nearly nothing. Usually, unless I did something dumb like eat greasy meat pizza, this takes care of my need for frequent stops.
Protein/Fat the night before a race. These take a little while longer than simple carbs to digest and I don’t like waking up with a rock in my stomach. I want to wake up “light” and ready to run with no worry digestive processes. Once I use the bathroom, I want that to be it. With fats and proteins there is guaranteed to be more later with the potential for some heartburn in the mix as the blood flows away from the digestive system. While this doesn’t plague everyone, it definitely hits me. I fail on this frequently (see: greasy meat pizza and posts regarding Applebee’s 2 for $20) but I know that it doesn’t work well and causes issues.
NUTRITION DURING A RUN
Clif Shots of any kind. Within 20 minutes I have to poop. Enough said.
Larabars, Clif bars, Powerbars. I’ve tried all of these and they taste fine enough when I’m not running but when I’m running they taste icky. They also sit in my stomach and don’t go anywhere. This is uncomfortable and feels gross. I belch the flavor I ate and that’s also no fun.
Sports Beans. I love the taste of these. I used them for a while. They are really hard to eat while running though and I would drop some on the ground, my fingers would get sticky and my breathing changed while I tried to chew them. Eating a full package (and getting enough calories) was too much work and not worth the effort. They also aren’t very portable in comparison to some other options out there.
Honey Stingers. I’m one of the few people (apparently) who gets gut rot from these. I belch and get gas within 20 minutes of ingesting any Honey Stinger product. Bummer.
M&M’s or anything with chocolate. These make me poop…tell me you’re surprised?
Gatorade, PowerAde, any sugary drink. Tummy cramps, side stitches, poop. Poop. Poop.
NUTRITION POST RUN
Nothing to report here. Carry on.
I can’t honestly say any gear that I own will never be used again. There are definitely a few items that are collecting dust as they are rarely used and I prefer some items over others. I can say that I am careful about what I choose to review and what I choose to purchase. I research before I buy. When I bought a hydration pack, I asked multiple female runners what they were using, ready a gazillion reviews, and then bought the one I deemed the best. Do I use it? Nope. I actually don’t even like it. Is it because of the pack? No. It’s because I have dystonia in my shoulder and I forgot that hydration packs sit on your shoulders! It wouldn’t be fair of me to list the hydration pack as ‘failed gear’ when it’s my body that failed. I’m still attempting to figure out how to use it.
There is other similar gear in my arsenal. It doesn’t get used. Doesn’t mean it’s not going to be used, just that I haven’t figured out how to make it work for me yet.
What you get out of this ramble is…I’m not putting anything here yet. I’ll only list something here if a product causes me anger, harm, or causes my nipples to bleed. Got it?
I have no loyalty or disloyalty to clothing. I don’t have sensitive skin and don’t chafe easily I guess. Nothing to report here.
Stuff I’m GOING to Try:
Altra Olympus. I bought these a few weeks ago and they’ve been sitting waiting in their box to go on a run. I’m hoping ultimately to use them out at the 50 mile race in Yellowstone. I think FANS would be a great test. Obviously they should get a few runs in before then. I’ve never attempted this much cushion and freaked out at the Intuitions cushioning…oh how far I’ve come! YAY PILLOWS ON MY FEET. Bring it on.
Gin Gins. I carry these when I run but haven’t needed them yet. I’ve barfed while running but only at high exertion and when running up really big hills. In Ultra’s I walk up the really steep hills so haven’t gotten nauseated yet. Maybe when I cross a certain mileage I’ll get nauseated, I don’t know. I have them and I’m willing to try them. I’ll let you know if they truly kill nausea when I do.
Amphipod handheld. In all actuality, I DID take this out on one 3 mile run. Does that count?? By trying this I mean trying it in tandem with my amphipod belt. As I’ve been unable to figure out how to use my hydration pack, I run out of liquid sometimes in the belt. If I can figure out how to run with a handheld and a belt, I think I’ll solve this issue. First I have to see if running a long distance with both is feasible as I like having my hands free.
Salted potatoes. Hubby’s going to make me these. Supposedly they are awesome when you’re deep into a run. We’ll see. I like having options and I’m always craving salt. It may just be that I need to take S-Caps more regularly or drink the Tailwind more frequently. Salted potatoes sound more fun don’t they?
There you have it. Now that I’ve made the list I can examine it and put what works into use during training and hopefully before and during FANS, tweaking it as needed.
Next up…Goals for FANS.