A poor nutrition plan is one of the main reasons of DNF (do not finish) during an ultra endurance race. Therefore nutrition is as important as the physical and mental preparation. We asked our pro athletes their nutrition secrets for ultra distance and here are their answers...
1. How do you carbo-load a few days before a race?
Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon: "I start to carbo-load at D-4 and stop it at D-1. I prefer white rice and gluten-free pasta for carbs at each meal. And I have a snack when I'm peckish several times during the day, such as banana or Näak Ultra Energy™ waffles."
Maryline Nakache: "2 days before a race I prefer starchy foods (quinoa, sweet potatoes or potatoes, rice, cereals, breads...), cooked vegetables and good proteins (fish, white meats and vegetable proteins). I avoid eating too much fiber, raw vegetables, dairy products or fatty foods."
Martin Kern: "Overall, I have a rather plant-based diet but the 3 days before the race are carbohydrate-focused. Everything goes through it! As for hydration, I use a drink rich in carbohydrates to arrive serene and in full possession of my means."
2. What do you eat the day before a race?
Maude Mathys: "What I find to eat if I am abroad or as usual if I am at home (muesli, vegetables, yogurt, milk, sometimes cheese). I make sure that I don't eat things that I don't digest well (sauce, fried food, fatty meat)."
Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon: "Typically, it's almost always the same meals, I know I digest them well, that's the main thing for me. Digest well to go light:
- A portion of white rice cooked in a broth (for the salt contribution)
- A portion of green vegetable such as green beans or zucchini
- A portion of protein such as eggs / white meat / white fish."
Gregoire Curmer: "The day before a race I don't change my habits I continue to eat legumes with an egg."
3. What do you have for breakfast before a race?
Martin Kern: "The same routine, oatmeal with banana, kiwi and chocolate pieces. A big glass of warm water with a slice of lemon. A small mug of green tea!"
Maryline Nakache: "For breakfast nothing special I keep my habits: cooked vegetables, bread + honey or protein cereals, coffee, tea, oilseeds ... and just before the race, I often take a Näak Ultra Energy™ waffle."
Maude Mathys: "Again, no big change, except that I eat much less cheese, milk and fruit. Traditional toast, or muesli if it's a long run, a little cheese sometimes or eggs."
4. What caloric intake per hour are you aiming for during a race?
Thibaut Garriver: "I don't calculate my intake and do this empirically with one Ultra Energy™ bar per 45min or so and adjust when the time comes based on many parameters (weather, effort, race physiognomy, terrain, time remaining)."
Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon: "I try new quantities of intake on each new race but for the moment I consume 1 Näak bar per hour of race, so about 200kcal! Added to that I take a Ultra Recovery™ shaker at every aid station where I have assistance, with a waffle. I love this mix."
Maryline Nakache: "During the race I don't calculate. I take food according to my feelings. Generally at least 150-200 kcal per hour in Naak bars or waffles or other + I stop at the aid-station."
5. Any advice on how to manage your aid-station stop during a race?
Marianne Hogan: "I always try to get through the aid-stations as quickly as possible, but mostly I try to stay calm and enjoy the moments with my crew (it fills me up). As I approach each aid-station, I like to mentally prepare myself for what I'm going to consume."
Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon: "Listen to yourself!!! At the beginning I wanted to follow the plan established beforehand, even if I wanted something else on the aid-station. Big mistake I think, the body is well made! If you feel like eating salty food, then you should eat salty food, etc... while knowing what you can digest or not of course! And especially to hydrate well, I drink on each aid-station a flask of water before filling it again before leaving!"
Maude Mathys: "I have no advice on aid-stations to give except that by having an carbo-loading the 2 previous days, you need much less feeding stations (at least for me)."