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.


Bob Gentile said...

Start early and don't get behind.
Thanks Kelly I am about 48 days away from my race, I am going to start now just to be safe --lol

OK Seriously, this is the area that I really NEED to pay attention to for my first 100...thanks for the post!

PS: I read the HURT articles in the latest Ultra Magazine...WOW what an adventure you and Suzanna had, You Ladies soooo Rock!!

kelly said...

Bob, you are too funny!! You will do fine if you just remember to keep the calories going in. At Hurt, Suz ate something every 30 minutes. You will run out of energy otherwise. What has also worked for me at a 100 is to stop all caffeine until race day. I use to get so tired running all night until I tried that. I can't wait to hear all about your first 100!! You will do AWESOME!

Bob Gentile said...

Thanks Kelly, I did read about the caffeine tip ... I have been off pop for 2 months now but still need a coffee in the am, I have limited the amount the slowly the past month and also gone to half decaf...soooo I am limiting it pretty good overall AND I do have my caffeine gels WAITING for me for Kettle--lol

jorjep said...

KELLY I just made this same mistake twice in two ultras I just did after coming back from MDS. It came back and bit me on my butt.Wont do it again.Also Im trying the coffee thing but I go into serious withdrawls without my peets.Georgie

kelly said...

Georgie-You have already run two ultras since MDS? What??? YOu are amazing! I want to hear all about your adventures at MDS. (it doesn't sound like your resting).

See Zanne Run said...

oh, i know these mistakes all too well. not taking in enough calories (and going into an event in an already calorie-depleted state) was exactly the straw that broke my back and had me near-collapse on a sidewalk and then getting wheeled into an ambulance at mile 22 of my 2nd marathon! this was a great post ... good reminders!

kelly said...

Yeah, Zanne, I remember reading your blog about that! Nutrition is very important when you exercise. It's nice to be reminded sometime. Have a good weekend.