By Athlete Ambassador, Hailey Van Dyk of Run Like a Girl
Picking up the pace, and pushing the distance farther this year has taught me a lot about nutrition. If you don’t have your nutrition dialed in, you are not going to have a successful race. I have had highs and lows during races, I have battled nausea and even a little throwing up. But everything I have learned has come through experience.
During the Knee Knacker this year, one of my big goal races, I pushed it like I never have before. Half way through, I thought I had been on the ball with eating, but as I slogged my way up Grouse Mountain, I started to feel so nauseous. And then for the first time ever during a race, I threw up. Once I was able to settle my stomach with some Ginger ale, and was able to get some proper nutrition in, my race as back on. I came out of the slump and felt amazing again. The power of food and hydration will get you through a race.
Here are the most important nutrition tips I have learned:
- Early Nutrition is key: This is especially true for longer races. An hour in might feel too early to pack back some calories especially if you’ve just eaten breakfast, but in reality is the key time to start. The key is to think about getting 100-200 calories in an hour. For short races, gels are perfect for this, a quick 100 calories goes down super easily. For longer races, you want to consider solid food.
- Real Food helps: Gels are great for short races and for a quick burst of energy when you’re feeling low, but what will really help you is real, solid food. Make sure at aid-stations you are eating the PB and J sandwiches, the potatoes or the chips. Make sure you pack bars with you that are densely packed with nutrition and calories. My personal favourite are the Hammer Nutrition chocolate, cashew, coconut bars.
- Electrolytes: You loose so many electrolytes when you are running, through your sweat, through your breath and your pee. You need to replace what you are loosing. My personal strategy is to have just plain water in my bladder and then electrolytes in my soft flasks so that I have a bit of both. Endurolytes work wonders for long runs and runs that are hot.
- Most issues can be solved with food and hydration: Cramping? Nauseous? Bonking? Force yourself to get some calories in. I promise you will feel better. You are blasting through calories during a race, especially longer ones. You metabolism is sky high and your calorie need goes up. A lot of issues during a distance run can be due to the fact that you are either hungry or dehydrated.
- Don’t play catch up: If you are already feeling hungry, it is too late. You should never let yourself get to the point where you feel hungry or it will be very hard to get that hunger under control. Stay on top of your nutrition, eat early on, eat more than you think you should and don’t wait till you feel hungry before you eat. Be proactive instead of reactive. Drink sips or water and electrolytes continuously through out your run so that you don’t end up feeling dehydrated. It is better to stay on top of it then to have to play catch up.