Rabbit Peak Nutrition
By Whitney Sweat, MS, RD, CSSD
Less than 1 week remains to prepare for the Rabbit Peak Trail run so it’s time to start planning for your nutrition needs to fuel for the long haul. While the days leading up to the race are crucial (see previous blog post for more information: https://gutcheckfitness.com/blog/2014/10/31/gut-check-challenge-fuel-hydration-tactics/), what you fuel and hydrate your body with during the long race could be a make or break for success.
With the altitude, elevation gains, technicality, and distance, you are definitely going to be expending more energy from carbohydrate than your body can store (typically about 1,000-2,000 Calories worth) so consuming some form of carbohydrate during the race is necessary. While your body can also utilize fat as a fuel source (of which we have an abundance of stored Calories), it is converted a usable form of energy by the body much more slowly than carbohydrate, so fat alone cannot sustain higher intensity activities.
Another extremely important focus for a race like this one is hydration. Water alone during this distance will not be sufficient to keep up with the electrolytes you will be losing through sweat. Solid foods and carbohydrate containing beverages can be great sources of additional electrolytes during the race. It is important that you have an idea of your individual hydration needs prior to the race to be sure you bring enough fluid and electrolytes to keep you well hydrated. Read on for specific fueling and hydration strategies.
- Begin fueling your body early on in the race and continue to do so at regular intervals.
- Focus primarily on consuming carb-rich foods and beverages, but incorporate some protein and a small amount of well-tolerated fats (some carb-based supplements contain some protein and fat like Perpetuem by Hammer Nutrition).
- Practice with different foods that you will use prior to race day.
- Identify what form of food will work for you. There are multiple sports bars, drinks, gels, and chews out there so don’t try anything unfamiliar on race day.
- Liquids: sports drinks, electrolyte mixes to add to water, carbohydrate supplement like Perpetuem
- Solids: Clif, Pro, or Power bars, Honey Stingers, dried fruits/trail mix, banana, PB & banana wrap (if tolerated), peanut butter pretzels/crackers, “no bake energy bites” (see recipe), or fig bars
- Aim to consume between 30-60 g of carbohydrate per hour. Your specific amount will be based on the intensity level you will be competing (higher intensity = higher carbohydrate usage) and how much you are able to tolerate (GI discomfort is common in endurance races).
- Understand your individual hydration needs by assessing your sweat rate during training.
- Weigh yourself before and after training (no shoes, minimal clothing)
- Convert pounds of fluid lost to ounces (1 lb = 16 oz fluid; 3 lb = 48 oz)
- Account for fluid consumed during exercise
- 48 fl oz + 16 fl oz consumed during 1 hour (60 min) training = 64 fl oz
- Calculate fluid loss per minute
- Example: 64 fl oz/60 min training time = ~1.0 fl oz per minute
- Calculate fluid needs every 15 minutes
- 1.0 fl oz x 15 min = 15 fl oz every 15 minutes
- Aim to get as close to this fluid amount as possible during the race by drinking every 10-20 minutes.
- Additional electrolytes are necessary for a race this length, do not hydrate with water alone! Sports drinks (Gatorade Endurance, Powderade, Live Fluid) provide both carbohydrate and electrolytes. Electrolyte mixes (Nuun, Skratch Labs) can be added to water as well (highly recommended for a race of this difficulty level).
- Choose carbohydrate sources that also contain electrolytes (salted trail mix, dried bananas and other fruits, pretzels, goldfish)
Make sure to use the above tips to be well prepared with a fueling and hydration strategy that will work best for you. This is crucial to finish the race successfully and safely! Best of luck to all of you go-getters participating in this challenging race!
No Bake Energy Bites
- 1 cup old fashioned oats (dry)
- 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
- ½ cup peanut butter or almond butter
- ½ cup ground flaxseed
- ½ cup chocolate or carob chips (optional)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
Stir all ingredients together in medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator half and hour. Once chilled, roll into ball of whatever size you would like. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.
Makes about 20-25 bites (depending on size)