Nutrition for Race to the Stones

If you want to complete the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones, you will need to keep taking on board nutrition while you’re out on the trail.

 

These tips are relevant for all of the Threshold Ultra Trail Series events.

 

Exactly how much you’ll need to take on will depend on your gender, build, and how efficiently you run, however a good rule of thumb is that you will burn is 100 calories per mile when running or 50 calories per mile when walking.

 

So for a 100km ultra marathon such as the Race to the Stones, you could be looking at up to 6000 calories used during the race.

 

You will probably bring 2000-2500 calories to the start in stored glycogen and most people can only take on board 200-240 calories per hour, so you’ll be in deficit over the day.  This means will need to eat regularly if you want to make it to the finish.

 

RTTS-aid sign

Practice makes perfect


The most important piece of advice that we can give you is to experiment before the day.

 

What works for one person does not work for another – some people can survive on gels alone, while others can’t swallow one without stomach cramps.

 

The only way you can find out what works for you is to try it out. Test your gels, sports drink or energy bars of choice on your long runs to see how your body digests them. If it doesn’t work, change and try something else.

 

It can also be useful to eat a small meal of pasta or a sandwich before a run, so you can see how you react to running with a fuller stomach.

 

All of this will help inform your choices on the day. Whatever you do, try and avoid anything new on race day.

 

Nutrition RTTS

 

Carbo-loading


There are plenty of articles about carboloading available online.  The basic principle is that in the week of the race, it is typically worthwhile taking on board more carbohydrate than you normally do.

 

Given that you’ll be tapering as well, you’ll probably feel sluggish this week, but don’t panic, it will be worth it in the long run (pun intended!).

 

Be mindful that you don’t want to start the race with too much in your system. A super-large meal the night before may not be the best way to approach race day.

 

What to eat on race day

 

We suggest eating your pre-race breakfast 2-3 hours before the start. While calories are important, you don’t want to take on too much too soon before running.

 

Have a normal breakfast with foods that you are used to and have tested prior to your long runs (see ‘Practice is perfect’ above).

 

Nutrition - liquids

 

Liquids


Almost as important as taking on carbs is to ensure that you keep hydrated in the week prior to the race.  Remember that caffeine-based drinks and alcohol have the opposite effect.

 

Drinking too much water can be as bad for you as drinking too little. During the race, a good rule of thumb is to drink when you’re feeling thirsty. Your body is very good at signaling when you need water – learn to pay attention to it.

 

Many Race to the Stones competitors only take water with them, but sports drinks can be an effective way to deliver calories, and more importantly, electrolytes.  Just make sure you test the strength of your mix before the race (see ‘Practice makes perfect’ above).

 

RTTS-water

 

Gels

 

Gels are a very efficient way of taking calories on board. They pack a lot of punch for their size, at around 100 calories per pack. They come in a wide variety of flavours and many contain caffeine as well.

 

A key aspect to consider is whether the gels are ‘isotonic’ or not.  Non-isotonic gels typically need to be taken in conjunction with water to aid digestion. Even a few sips can be enough, but if you’re short of water then they can play havoc with your system.

 

Popular brands include High5, SIS, Gu, Zipvit and Powerbar.

 

Energy Bars

These can be harder to digest when you’re running at a faster pace, but for ultra marathons, energy bars are a very popular when of taking on fuel.

 

In terms of energy they offer more than gels, delivering between 200 and 300 calories on average. There’s also a much broader range of flavours, and many people prefer the texture to gels – which can get quite sickly after a while.

 

Again you need to remember that you’ll need to wash them down and aid digestion.


Aid Stations

 

The aid stations at Race to the Stones are regularly placed at 10 kilometre intervals and have a wide variety of foods on offer, as well as water.

 

The exact mix varies year on year, but one of the highlights of the aid stations, if you have been fuelling on gels, is that you can expect lots of savoury items such as peanuts and crisps. There will also be mixed fruits, including bananas – which many ultra runners find easy on the stomach.

 

At least one of the aid stations will have hot food available – typically soup and pasta.  After you’ve been on the road all day, this is can be a real highlight and energy booster.

 

Nutrition - hydration

 

‘Real’ food

 

There’s no need to restrict the food you take with you to gels and bars. Many competitors pack sandwiches, and a trail mix of nuts and raisins is a great way to keep your salts up, as well as taking on board protein.

 

Salami and cheese are also tasty, savoury ways of getting protein into your system – and for a race as long and demanding as Race to the Stones, carbohydrates alone are unlikely to be enough to see you comfortably to the finish.

 

Salts

 

The last few years it’s been hot for Race to the Stones. When it’s hot your sweat rate is higher and so you need to be mindful of keeping your salt and electrolyte levels up.

 

Some runners take tablets with them, sports drinks can help, as do salty snacks such as peanuts and crisps.

 

If you do find yourself struggling you’ll also find that the aid stations will have rehydration powders that will help.





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