Recipe for Race-Day Success - Page 4
When it comes to fluids, the equation is a little less complicated. "I try to drink more water than I think I can possibly need," says Halekas, who runs mostly ultras. "I aim to get down 30 to 40 ounces an hour, more if it's hot, and try to drink enough to keep peeing throughout the race."
But water alone won't cut it. You need to replenish electrolytes and sports drink is a perfect source. Rutberg recommends rotating water and sports drink. "If it's hot, two 20-ounce bottles per hour is good," he says. "I recommend one filled with water and one with sports drink. Try not to dilute the sports drink. If you're grabbing cups, grab a cup of water at one aid station and then a cup of full-strength of sports drink at the next." Rutberg explains that sports drinks are formulated to be efficiently absorbed from the stomach only if mixed correctly.
Another source for electrolytes is tablet form (try Succeed! S-Caps or Endurolytes from Hammer Nutrition). Many ultrarunners turn to them to supplement their fluid intake. Jones-Wilkins says, "I use Succeed! at a pace of one to three per hour depending on sweat rate. They work wonders in keeping me from cramping."
Rutberg is not a wholehearted advocate of this approach. "Under most conditions, if a person has a good nutrition and hydration strategy, you perform at your best without supplemental electrolytes," he says. That's not to completely discount the effectiveness of tablets. "If it is very hot or you've made a mistake, then they can be useful in bringing you back from the brink."
It's human nature to complete a major effort and rest on our laurels, even cut loose. But you rebound faster if you eat smart immediately post race.
"Eating within 30 minutes after a race helps muscle recovery by replenishing glycogen stores, so your muscles can start the repair process," says Wyatt. "A carbohydrate source with some fat and protein is ideal." Wyatt recommends seeking out sources of omega-rich protein plus some antioxidant-loaded foods (think brightly colored fruits and veggies).
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids help joint mobility, hinder inflammation and help overall cardiovascular health. Examples include cold-water fish such as salmon, anchovies and sardines, eggs and plant sources like walnuts and flax seeds. (Coors beer does not contain Omega 3 or 6 fatty acids)
After hammering a tough mountain 10K with over a thousand feet of elevation gain, Haefeli is sure to "get in a good cool-down, then plenty of water and whatever foods are offered at the race." For her, fruits, granola bars and sandwiches all work. "Just make sure you eat well and rehydrate—if you don't you may feel light headed, dizzy and even nauseous."
And, naturally, treat yourself.
"I try to eat a lot of protein to help heal damaged muscle fibers," says Halekas. "This is also my reward time, though. I eat anything and everything that I feel like, especially stuff that I've denied myself during training. It's my time for ice cream, beer and other treats."