As a general rule, as runners Kath and I tend to fall into the old school of nutritional fulfillment – eat plenty of good fresh food (emphasis on the plenty!), prepare as much as possible your self, listen to our bodies requirements and respond quickly, and keep clear of nutritional supplements unless absolutely necessary. The 5000mileproject will require extreme endurance , not fast athlete-like performance, but how will we meet our nutritional intake requirment whilst on the road, far from shops and our own galley?
Fear not. There is a valuable market competing to help us fuel up as runners. The products created for runners these days are mind bogglingly complex – our bodies diet has been disected into each and every component and the latest bar, powder or shake will provide it all, dispensing of the need for laborious, anachronistic, old-fashioned “food”.
Or so they say. Our experience is otherwise. On a long distance endurance race not too long ago I decided to try a few of these “Gu Energy” sachets to pep me up at mile 15. Pretty meagre serving, couldn’t do any harm at least? Not long after slapping most of it all over my chin and collar as well as my mouth as I attempted to fuel up on the go the effects were , as promised, instantaneous. Firstly my stomach cramped, as did my running partner’s, and the sensation soon filled in to intense nausia, to keep this super sweet sugar bomb down was taking all our concentration, I suppose it took the mind off the road. Soon afterwards, the sysptoms spread north and south. To the north they started to deliver – the eyes widened and the brain reponded with a little fizz, newfound optimism, encouragement from the muscles as the energy was beginnning to be delivered via the blood, and a lighter footing that comes with it. Unforunately the symptoms simultanelously permeated south too. We both encountered sharp cramps from somewhere worrying within the intenstinal jungle and before long my running partner was starting to squirm, eyes darting to find cover. I too was in trouble and adapting my running style to encompass as much as what couple be politely described as “clenching” as is possible without losing footing all together. He was in more trouble than me though, and soon burst off into the surrounding thicket, shed rucksack, whipped down running trousers, squatted and, well, you know…..
The thing to assess then is this, did we achieve more of a lift from the complex syruppy sugar boost than we did in down time responding to its unwelcomed departure? No idea, but what seems clear is that too much “goo” makes you poo. Better stick to peanut butter sandwiches if you ask me.
And so it is we thought we would add some blogs on nutrition for the long distance runner, purely from our perspective on the road, without labs rats and petri dishes and viles of bood. We hope to source the latest information and keep as open minded as possible (within legal limits of course!) whilst powering the 5000mileproject and will share our findings here…