I want to share with you what I used to ‘fuel’ me round my 100 miles at the weekend.
I appreciate that most people aren’t going to rush out and try to replicate this meal plan on their next 100 miler, but actually I think that the real value in what I’m about to write is in the concept of flexibility.
*** CAUTION: THIS IS A LONG ONE! ***
The whole event had so many unknown quantities that there was no way I could predict how I was going to feel, or what I would want to eat.
I had to prepare for as much as possible, have a vague outline of a plan in my head but most importantly I had to be flexible with my approach.
I didn’t want to plan myself into a corner where I might get stressed as things didn’t go my way.
My plan was to have options and I believe that this made a significant contribution to my overall success.
The morning of the race I wanted to do everything as normally as possible.
I had my usual breakfast of big bowl of oats & chia seeds soaked in almond milk, with nuts, raisins, chopped apple and coconut.
Then my secret weapon Lean Greens, which I double dosed with as I figured I was going to need as many nutrients in the system as possible in the next 24 hours.
Lean Greens has been a regular accompaniment to my morning routine for years now, and not only does it help to quash any bloating it also gives me a natural boost of energy.
At about 10am I had a super food protein shake, which was just a simple mix of a scoop of whey protein and a 33Shake pouch (though I didn’t have my blender so there was a bit more chewing going on than usual!)
I had 2 coffees before 11am, which did their job of moving things along, if you know what I mean.
I then grazed on bananas & nuts until we kicked off at midday.
The solo runners had a tent where we could position supplies, and I had a big box of goodies in there waiting for me at the end of each 5 mile loop.
The party started after 15 miles with a packet of Waitrose cheese & smoked ham sandwiches washed down with a carton of VitaCoco.
After that I ate something pretty much every lap whether I felt I needed it or not.
I knew that I wasn’t eating for immediate energy – I was eating for energy later on in the day and through the night.
I had 33Shake chia energy gels, Nak’d Bars, huge handfuls of mixed nuts & raisins, blocks of marzipan (I LOVE marzipan!) and a family-sized bag of vegetable crisps.
Then there was the 24 hour catering.
My plan had been to stop around 8pm after running 50 miles and have a sit down meal.
As it turned out, I was 5 miles short at this point so did a lap with my head torch and then came in to sample the first of my 3 cooked meals: a bacon cheese burger.
It was incredibly salty and in truth it wasn’t quite anywhere near as appealing as it had been when I had perused the menu before the start.
But it did the job and I felt like I’d ‘had dinner’ when I left the tent.
I decided to walk most of the next lap but still felt a pretty hefty stitch that eventually went away.
Through the night I had planned on boshing an entire cheesecake (which I also LOVE by the way!) but somehow didn’t fancy it. It just wasn’t doing anything for me so I stuck with the nuts, marzipan and Nak’d Bars.
There was a pork baguette at 2am after I think 70 miles, and then a sausage sandwich at 7am with just 15 to go. Neither of which I particularly enjoyed but I did savour the chance to sit down and put my feet up for 15 minutes.
For hydration I was taking on 600-800ml water at the 5k mark on the route, then an additional 250-500ml in between most laps.
I think I worked it out to about 18 litres of fluid and only 3 wees which gives you some indication of the amount my body was absorbing.
Although I stuck to mainly water I did also get through 2 litres of VitaCoco coconut water to help me replace electrolytes.
I used this stuff a lot during my 10 in 10 last year as well and it makes a huge difference to speed of hydration. Plus I love coconuts so I looked forward to chugging more of it down.
A couple of bottles of Lucozade Sport snuck in there during the night, and I even had some ‘Cliff Blocks’ sports nutrition as they were giving them away at the drinks station.
Neither of these things made me feel particularly energised but certainly contributed to the furry lining my teeth accumulated by the end of the event.
So the moral of the story is to have a plan, but make flexibility a part of that plan.
Not just for running ultra marathons, but for any event, sporting or otherwise.
Have a bunch of options and know that you’ll have the common sense and gut instinct to make the right decisions when the time comes..
The only caveat would be the specific instructions I gave to Alex, my night support crew before the event.
When he asked me how he could help me I said that he needed to make sure that I ate. I told him I knew that I had to, but that I probably wouldn’t want to when I got tired.
Know yourself, know your default settings, and put plans in place to safeguard against them.
Post run, I continued with my massive calorie consumption for a couple of days.
But during the next 48 hours I also made sure that I returned to my usual baseline habits like Lean Greens to start the day, omega 3 supplements, and plenty of water.
These are habits that we can ALL default to as they take zero thought and effort to put into practice.