Recently in a discussion about nutrition for extended exercise, I realized I’d never discussed my own method of nutrition. This is what works for me, and I’m still tweaking it. The number one piece of advice I got before running the Comrades marathon was “Please eat!” That’s always been my strategy. The key is to find what works for you. Ironically, through fitfluential I saw another blog by mom.wife.fitness.LIFE where she asked the same question. It later occurred to me that my response also applied to our earlier conversation. Here’s what I wrote:
Ultimately, the best nutrition is the one that works for you! If it upsets your stomache, it doesn’t do any good!
Although most people recommend some kind of nutrition for longer efforts over an hour in length to include something every 30 minutes, after running several ultras and doing Ironman triathlons, I’ve actually gotten in the habit of setting a timer for every 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes I should ingest something – perhaps it’s just water – but the timer prevents me from getting behind on hydration (remember, by the time you’re thirsty, it’s too late).
Studies show that you can ingest between 200-300 calories per hour while exercising, and you should if you plan to exercise more than 2 hours. Apparently variety is the key, too.
So for my 2+ hour runs I do this:
30mins: Water/Salt tablet/electrolyte
Repeat as necessary! I’ll substitute bananas or whatever else aid stations have at the 15min/45min marks to add variety.
Post run should consist of anything 4 parts carb and 1 part protein.. Believe it or not, chocolate milk (1% low fat) is the best cheap version of that! The key is to have a “recovery” meal within 15-30minutes of the end of your workout.