Friday, April 18, 2008
Ultra Mistakes on Race Day
Almost a week has gone by since Lake Sonoma 50 miler. I have had time to reflect and see the mistakes that I made.
The classic mistakes when it comes to hydration and fueling according to five time winner of the Western States 100 Mile Run, Tim Tweitmeyer, are: First, not drinking early enough. Second, is not taking in enough calories early enough, and the third is not paying attention to the need for salt or sodium (electrolytes).
I think that I was taking in enough water. I prefer water to sport drinks and I try to take Succeed regularly. I made the mistake of not taking in enough Succeed and my hamstrings and low back were cramping. It was very hot out and I was sweating profusely. I kept reminding myself to pick up electrolytes at the next aid station, but then would forget once I got there. Big Mistake. As the heat, duration and the intensity of an event increase, sodium loss becomes critically high. Sweating leaves the blood thicker, making the heart work harder to pump it sending your pulse rate very high. Start early with electrolytes and don't get behind.
One of my biggest mistakes was that I did not take in nearly enough calories. To delay fatigue and keep performing at your best during an ultra you need to replace carbohydrates BEFORE your glycogen stores get depleted. The average maximum amount of carbohydrates you can absorb and burn during exercise is about 200 to 250 calories per hour or about 1 gram per minute of exercise. Taking in less than your ideal amount of carbohydrates means you can not "catch-up" on energy when you begin to feel fatigued and hypoglycemia takes its toll. Start early and don't get behind. Remember to "eat early and often", even if you are not hungry! Try to stay ahead of the fueling game. Have a plan but be prepared to be flexible. Stable blood sugar directs calories to muscles so try to fuel yourself with small amounts continually.
I hope the mistakes I made will help keep you from doing them yourself on your next race. Most of us know what we need to do. Doing them, on the other hand, is sometime difficult. I know that I have to remind myself to eat before I feel the need to do so. Getting behind on calories does not make for a pretty run. Remember: Calories = energy.
Practice and use this information so you can have a strong and comfortable finish at your next race.