Food for the whw race

I think one of the hardest things to get right in ultra running is your food and drink strategy. Eat and drink the wrong stuff or not eating and drinking enough and you say goodbye to a good run.
Over the last four years I have experimented with a number of things and listened to others and their trials with food and have come to the conclusion that no-one really gets in 100% ‘right’.
I think we are all experimenting as we go along. Sometimes one strategy will work for one race and then not for another. Some things work for a 53 mile race but not for 95miles. One strategy is ideal for one runner and disaster for another.
So for what it’s worth this is where I am at for this year’s race. It may well change after the race! I’d like to experiment with complan type food but that’s for another day.
Here is a picture of what I’ll have available. Not sure if I’ll eat it all but we’ll see. I have several of some of the items but just took one of each for the photo.

Here is a list of some of the things I’ve learnt along the way in no particular order.
1. Always test everything out
All the food in the picture is tried and tested on long training runs. I would never try anything new in a race. I think that’s asking for trouble.
2. Eat small amounts regularly
I have my watch set to 30min repeats to remind myself to eat something every 30mins. I do this right from the start. I try to think of it as I’ve run for 30mins so I need to put something back in the tank.
3. Have a variety of food
I have been guilty in the past of finding something that I think works and just sticking with it and nothing else. Once it was grapes with disastrous consequences. Another time it was baked beans which wasn’t so good for anyone behind me. But recently I’ve found the best thing is variety so I’ve tried lots of different types of bars and will take a few of each in the hope that I will be able to eat some of them.
4. Perpetuem ‘Extreme Endurance Fuel’
I’ve been using this since last year’s Hardmoors 110mile race and I like it. It is flavourless and has 260 calories per serving. I really dislike the taste of energy drinks especially after many hours but I can stomach this one so it’s become a ‘favourite’ of mine. I will aim to take a 500m bottle every couple of hours.
5. Succeed! Tablets
I have been taking these ever since I started four years ago and thankfully have never suffered from cramp. I don’t know whether it’s because I take them or I’m not prone to cramp but I will continue to take them until it doesn’t work. ‘If it ain’t broke don’t change it.’ I will use my 30min repeat to remind me to take one every 90mins or if it’s hot every 60mins. The only problem I have with them is that I’m rubbish at swallowing any tablets and sometimes struggle to get them down my throat.
6. Water
I’ve tried various drinks but I’ve decided nothing tastes as good as water when I’m thirsty. Also Graeme Obree said that the body absorbs water faster than anything else. I feel as long as I’m drinking by thirst and taking succeed tablets I should be okay.
7. I struggle to eat much after 15hrs or so
I can eat regularly throughout 55mile races but on the whw I really struggle after about 15hrs. So I keep my gels for later on in the race in the hope that I’ll at least be able to get them down with some water. I’ll also have a yoghurt drink or two near the end. Rice Pudding can be good near the end as well as it just slides down the throat!!
8. Sweets
I’ll always have a some sweets (Jelly Babies, Haribo etc) in my pocket to keep me going as I climb a hill or feel I’ve not eaten something for awhile and need to.
9. Tablet/Mazipan/Fudge
I find these are good when I need a quick sugar burst and some instant energy. There have been several times when I feel I can’t run much more but after eating some of these have been able to get going again.
10. Fruit
I will eat some fruit, bananas, grapes, strawberries etc but only in small amounts.
So there you have my eating strategy. I must remember to look this post up in a year’s time and see how much will have changed.
I’ll do one more post before I leave home on Friday …. which will include a list of the guesses for my competition!
Just two and a half more sleeps to go. The half is my Friday afternoon sleep before the race!
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6 Responses to Food for the whw race

  1. Our house is like a tuck shop just now.

    I don't think the three jelly babies I had during the Fling is going to work this weekend.

    Debs 🙂

    Ps: My word verification is Scouser!

  2. Anonymous says:

    John!!….Good luck with the WHW race on the 19th.

    Colin Knox

  3. Chris says:

    Good luck John. I hope the race goes well.

  4. Anonymous says:

    John, that is a serious amount of sugar! – Jelly babies, Haribos, marzipan, fudge, energy bars, tablet – May be too late as it's not on your “tried and tested sheet”, but I suggest you take a toothbrush or alternatively just pop your teeth in a glass and collect them in Fort Willaim!!!! Have a fantastic race, with your usual military planning and attention to detail I expect to see another PB posted for WHW race No4. Good Luck Chris McG

  5. Johann says:

    Thanks for the food list! I find it exactly as you say, very difficult to get the food thing right. I think you've got something of everything and that should be fine.
    Good luck!

  6. Gav says:

    John, this time tomorrow we'll probably be at the Beech Tree Inn – scary ! Hope to catch you at the start, have a good one – Gav.

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