When I started to participate in endurance events, I used to carbo-load 3 days before the event. Those glucose polymer powders tasted terrible, but I really thought I did not have an alternative. As a result, I started races feeling bloated, heavy and even hungry! Carbo-loading was what most athletes used before major events. Even during periods of training, a lot of emphasis was placed on a diet consisting of 50-60% of energy coming from carbohydrates. During events, the race drinks and snacks also consist of mainly carbohydrates, e.g. Coke, Powerade, potatoes, oranges or a few jelly sweets. As a result, I would start to feel dizzy, hungry and severely tired (“hitting the wall”) after about 3 hours. I always finished races within the cut-off times, but I did not enjoy it.
After I started to do more trail running, I realised I benefit from using more fat and protein and fewer carbohydrates during training and events. Now I enjoy races more and my recovery is faster.
For me, the focus is not on winning, but I want to feel strong when I run and I want to be able to enjoy it.
It is very important to match the nutrient requirements of a specific event to the physiological demands and practical limitations. I made the common mistake to rely mostly on carbohydrates to fuel me. During events lasting longer than 2 hours, the body needs fuel in the form of fat and protein as well. If race organisers don’t cater for that, athletes need to plan ahead and bring their own supplies. This is where the keto bars and keto bomb gels came in extremely handy. It is easy to swallow, not sweet and high in fat and protein. Poor attention to nutrition and hydration during endurance events can, therefore, be a costly affair.
Author: Tanelle Schutte
The Alpi di Siusi race above, which I recently did with my husband, was hard, but breathtaking!