Training for 42nd Traverse

road to horopito

Getting prepared for the next one.


I decided I have some unfinished business with trail marathons, so elected to take on the 42nd Traverse on the 4th of May as soon as my knees healed up from Tarawera.


Its a trail marathon, not especially technical over 42.2km, so I feel a good manageable progression from the 38 I have just completed.


Training has been going along smoothly, and I have been experimenting with the optimal racing fueling.


As I eat a largely Paleo diet- all whole foods, animal fats and proteins, seeds and nuts, and then supplement it with some whole grains – for me its oats, rice and quinoa, it takes a bit of working out what is the best race fuel.


I don’t make any changes to my diet or nutrition for exercise sessions up to 2 hours, I don’t feel I need to. I drink enough water before the run – a 400ml glass and will take another 300-800ml water/hr with me depending on the temperature, have a normal breakfast of eggs, fruit and salad or home made muesli rich in oats, nuts, chia and seeds or left over last night’s curry, swallow a table spoon of chia in some water as an insurance policy and head out.


But more than 2 hours is an issue, you just have to get in more calories. Gluconeogenesis is the process where your body makes glucose and effectively glycogen – the energy fuel that muscles burn- from fat stores available in the body. For this process to occur readily during running you need to: train – yes this is why the fitter you are the less likely you are to “bonk” have a drop in energy fuel – and drink enough water (drink when you are thirsty and until you aren’t thirsty anymore which is calculated to be 300-800ml/ hour). That’s it really. Even super skinny runners still have plenty of fat stores they can use for fuel, they just have to replace them afterwards. Now this starts to happen at roughly 90min- 120min for most people, the more you train, particularly without sugar supplementation the sooner it will occur. And something strange happens, the appeal for sweet tasting things rapidly deminishes. So it has to be a savoury feed on the run, especially after 3 hours of running. This is true for a large number of the elite athletes I work with too, those that use normal food as fuel keep sweet foods to a minimum after the 3hour mark.


I though I would try some coconut water at first – its great, it tastes great, you don’t tire of it, BUT my kidneys behave strangely for a few days after drinking it- which isn’t a good thing. This is more than likely due to the high potassium content – an important salt to get in, but one that is also formed inside the body while running. My advice would be to keep it for a drink on a hot tropical beach day, and not to run with it as a fuel.


I can’t suddenly consume sugar rich gels and bars, because they make me feel queasy since I never eat sugar in any notable volume. So I made myself some home made “gu”. A tablespoon of chia steeped into very strong green tea, a touch of honey and some sea salt. And took it on a long-slow-distance trail run of 33km in winter conditions for a training run. Energy wise, it worked fantastically, I put it into little sachets and glugged it down with some water every 40-60minutes. Until 2.5 hours, when that was too sweet. I had some almonds and raisins which I chewed a few of for the rest of the run, which was fine.

 I think I will take some oats crackers with marmite and butter on with for the marathon for after the 2.5 hour mark for variety, but I was happy with my energy levels.


For recovery?

A glass of green juice (juiced cavalo nero, lemon, bok choy) and chicken liver pate on oats crackers, followed with biltong and an orange. And a big dinner of steak, salad and vegies.


As overall energy recovery went, I was ready to run again the next day, though the legs needed a rest. So I think I am beginning to get the balance right for the higher energy requirements of the distance events without eating junk for fuel.

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