24 Hour Ultra Marathon Fuelling Strategy

Written By Renee McGregor

Renee is a leading Sports and Eating Disorder specialist dietitian with 20 years experience working in clinical and performance nutrition. She is also an Ultra X Ambassador.

28 May 2021

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This Saturday, 27th May 2021, Josh Patterson will be attempting a world first – four marathons in the four countries making up the United Kingdom in 24 hours. Ultra X are handling the logistics for this mammoth challenge and nutrition lead Renee McGregor is handling the fuelling side of things.

As we approach tomorrow’s challenge, we take a look at some of the considerations. Over to you, Renee…

Nutrition strategy considerations

  • Josh will aim for 60-90g carbs per hour from the first hour as a minimum, primarily through 250ml Beta fuel (40g) and SIS gels (22g).
  • These will be supplemented with Josh’s choice of preferred options, such as Jaffa cakes, sweets, Soreen and Coke.
  • Little and often throughout the hour is best for tolerance and absorption. It is good to rotate through sports products and real food but important to appreciate that towards the end, Josh may just want to take on fluids.
  • On the helicopter (in between the Northern Ireland/Scotland marathons and England/Wales marathons Josh will be travelling by helicopter) the aim is to take on real food. We will use things that worked well previously, such as mash potato and noodles. It is important to have back-up options such as SIS REGO, bagels, wraps or cereal bars.

Hydration strategy considerations

  • Electrolytes – Josh will aim for around 800-1000mg of sodium per 1 litre of fluid.
  • Fluid – depending on weather the aim is between 400-750ml an hour.

Contingencies

  • Josh will have boiled sweets available to help if he hits a low and cannot stomach food. Sucking on these can help to trick brain into thinking it has some energy in the tank for a short period of time but also brings sugar levels back up so you can start to take fuel back on. Ginger can be a good option if nausea is an issue.
  • Oranges, watermelon and chewing gum are all good to change the palate especially if Josh is getting fed up with sweet foods.
  • During the night runs, Josh’s core temperature will drop – this and high melatonin levels will lead to additional fatigue so if there is an option to get some hot food or drink in, this would be a good time as this will prevent the body from wanting to stop.
  • When tired, while carbohydrates are the key fuel, there is some evidence that using protein can keep you more alert so it may be worth using some REGO, beef jerky or similar in addition to carb options. Josh is keen to avoid too much caffeine, but some may be useful at this stage.

And that’s the short of it – simple but effective nutrition strategies to fuel 104 miles of running to complete Run4Nations. Fancy following the event? You can track Josh here, and be sure to follow Ultra X and Renee on Instagram for regular updates too.

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