nutrition planning for a multi-stage event
Last Sunday, we looked at how to plan and execute a hydration strategy. This Sunday, we will focus on race nutrition. The two are highly interlinked.
Getting your nutrition right during a multi-stage is probably THE most important thing to get right if you want to perform well. The training is done, the kit is packed and the start line awaits. It’s time to fuel right.
For the vast majority of multistage events dehydrated or freeze dried foods are the most suitable for your main meals. Some of the most commonly seen brands are Lyo foods, Expedition Foods, Mountain House, Tent Meals, Back Country Cuisine but there are many more. We would recommend you to try a variety and work out which one suits you.
Outside of main meals there are two key aspects of any nutrition plan- 1) Fuelling during the race and 2) Fuelling after the event, where the priority is recovery. This article focuses on 1, and next Sunday we will be offering some advice on how to approach recovery during a multistage.
Working out a fuelling strategy that is right for you is vital but can get a bit complicated as the intensity of the event will impact on the fuelling strategy. If you are planning on moving more slowly (essentially hiking) you might want to think about consuming more fat as race fuel. This is because fat is the hardest source of food to digest for your body but it provides the most energy per gram. Good sources come from foods such as nuts and pepperoni and these foods are much easier to eat when walking. They also satisfy salt cravings.
Carbohydrates are easier for your body to digest and convert into energy faster than fats. As such when working at a higher intensity, people verge towards carbs. This is why we rarely see people consuming anything but gels or similar during marathons.
However, gels can disagree with runners’ stomachs so be sure to test them out in a simulated environment before you plan your nutrition strategy.
Unlike other multi stage events, during an Ultra X you do not have to carry all of your food and equipment for the week. This means that you can you move faster as you don’t have to carry the extra weight on your back. Another benefit is you can eat as much as you like which will help reduce the inevitable calorie deficit.
Race tip: Before the event, calculate what you will eat each day and then separate your food accordingly into separate sandwich bags. Each day’s distance is different so your fuel consumption will vary so make sure to number your food bags corresponding with that day.
This is a short piece aimed at getting you thinking about what sort of fuels you are consuming during the race. To read in greater detail about race nutrition please check out this link from the very experienced Elisabet Barnes.