Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fueling During a Long Race (50 to 100 miles)

In this section I often refer to "Long Races."  What I am talking about are races that will take at least 12 hours to complete.  For a runner like me, that is everything from a difficult 50 miler up to 100 miles.  This is an updated post from two years ago.  Substantially updated!

In an ultra, especially the longer ones, it is necessary to eat and drink all during the run.  This is a foreign concept to most road racers and for runners in general.  Just about everyone uses carb type gels these days in road races of all length, and if you are not, you should start.  They really work.  Most runners can tolerate them for a several hours and you probably can run a 50K eating nothing else.  Personally, I would not recommend it.  I can tell you from experience that after a while the thought of a GU will make you sick.  I suggest you start trying various other foods during your training runs.  As soon as you venture beyond a 50K your "mid-race" diet will change.

Aid stations in 50K races will typically have the following things:
    Water and energy drinks
    Peanut butter and  jelly sandwiches
    Potato Chips and Pretzels
    Cooked potatoes and a bowl of salt to dip the potatoes in
    Cokes, Sprite, etc...
    Cookies and Crackers
    Bananas and other fruit
    Energy Gels

 Here is a list of things you will typically find at aid station in 50 to 100 mile races:   
    Water and energy drinks
    Sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, etc (sometimes grilled)
    M&Ms, Gummy Bears, and other types of candy (hard and soft)
    Potato Chips and Pretzels
    Soup or Broth  (Usually over night in 100 mile races)
    Cooked Potatoes and a bowl of Salt to dip them in.
    Cokes, Sprite, etc.
    Several types of Cookies and Crackers.
    Energy gels
    Bananas and other fruit.
    Even Coffee  (Overnight)
    Several types of Burritos (chicken and bean, eggs and sausage or ham)
Some not-so-typical aid station foods found in 100 milers:
    Fried or boiled eggs
    Hummus roll-ups
    Chicken tamales
    Bacon and ham and eggs with pancakes  (I would sit down to eat that)
    Some aid stations have grills ready to prepare what you want.

At the Tahoe Rim Trail 100, Diamond Hill aid station is located at mile 30 and 70 and they kept grills going all day and all night.  They were ready to make about any thing you wanted.

You will need to figure out what you like and what you are able to eat while running, so start practicing.  When I started training for the Pinhoti 100 in 2008, I would take an assortment of food in my car to Oak Mountain for all my long training runs.  After several hours of running, I would stop by my car to refill water bottles and try a few new snacks.  (It is important to try the new foods well into a long run, in my case it was usually 5 hours after I started with two or three hours to go.)  I also carried various snacks with me on the run.  Starting about three hours into the run I would start eating cookies, sandwiches and other "real" food.  Usually I just keep running or at least walking while I eat.  What I found out in training and in races is that I can eat anything that looks good to me at the time.  I have never really had a problem eating anything that looks good.  If it doesn't look good I just don't eat it.  (I have never tried a barbecue sandwich or a chili-dog, and furthermore, I will not at least until the race is over!)

One other word on stomach problems.  Sometime during every long race I have run, my stomach starts to feel a little queasy.  I have learned two tricks that settle your stomach in a hurry.  I always carry  Ginger Chews candy and eat one when I start to feel sick.  You eat one and a few minutes later you usually begin to feel better.  I do not know of any local stores that have  them, but Zombie Runner sells them and they are cheep.  I also carry Enlyten strips with me all the time on long races, especially 100 milers.  They do a really good job of settling you stomach and work quickly.  You just eat a couple of strips like candy and in a few minutes you feel fine.  I usually try ginger chews first and if they don't work the Enlyten strips will.

One very critical issue regarding food is what to eat, or more importantly, what NOT to eat the night before an ultra, especially long ultra.  Everyone that ever slipped on a pair of running shoes knows to eat carbs the night before a race and this is important.  Running ultras creates new issues, however.  Because you are running for many hours you do not want to have heavy, slow digesting food sitting in your gut.  Stay away from any type of ruffage.  A grilled chicken or salmon salad might be a great, healthy meal any other time, but don't eat it the night before an ultra.  Some people go as far as suggesting runners eat nothing more than soup or even a drink like "Ensure."  Just eat light and eat what can be easily digested.  It is also a good idea to eat early.  The day before the Rocky Raccoon 100 I ate dinner about 2:00 PM at Applebee's in Huntsville.  I ate a bowl of Chicken Tortilla Soup and a grilled chicken sandwich.  If I had eaten later I would not have eaten that much, but dinner was 16 hours before the 6:00AM start.  I drank a "Boost" before I went to bed, as I recall, about 8:00PM.  I got up about 3:00AM, made a cup of coffee, heated some water and ate a bowl of oatmeal and drank another Boost.  I also ate a small muffin I had purchased the day before.  I was ready.

In addition to figuring out what you like to eat during runs you will also need do experiment with various energy drinks.  I used HAMMER PERPETUEM up until mid 2011, and really liked the way it tasted.  Studies have shown that endurance athletes running for more than 4 or 5 hours need protein and carbohydrates.  Many of these mixes have a ration of 4 to 1, Carbs to Protein.  I have a problem with the protein while running and I know others that have the same stomach problems with Perpetuem.  They say it works great on the bike segment for an Ironman, but they simply cannot run with it.  Try some of the energy drink mixes available at running stores and bike shops while training.  Try Perpetuem too.  It might work for you.  

Most of these mixes have carbs and protein plus a lot of other supplements.  I now use Carbo Pro which is 100% Complex Carbs.  It has almost no taste at all and I can drink it for 27 straight hours with no problems.  (Well, at least at Rocky Raccoon) I eat enough other stuff, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and other stuff at the aid stations to get the protein, I guess.  There are many brands and types of energy drinks to choose form.  Most are available in individual servings, so buy an assortment of brands and flavors and try them all.  Try the carbs and protein combinations and try straight "complex" carbs, too.  Experiment with different water/powder ratios.  I carry 10oz water bottles on a Nathan Speed 4R belt during long runs and races and mix the Carbo Pro at a ration of two scoops of powder to 10 oz of water.  At this ration one 10 oz bottle should last about one to one and a half hours.  In races, I add powder to all four bottles but only add water to one bottle at a time, (unless it is going to take a long time to get to the next aid station.)  As you approach the next aid station, pull out the next bottle containing powder and add water.  That way, you are not starting the race with 2.5 lbs of premixed liquid.

My eating and fueling rules:
  1. Experiment during training runs and know what you can eat.
  2. Eat a little at regular intervals along the run.
  3. Grab a sandwich, a banana, a cookie and maybe a cup of soup at the aid station.  Stick some in a pocket for later (soup is not recommended) and eat what you want or can while walking away from the aid station.  Continue walking while you eat.  That gives  you a break from running and gets you legs moving again after stopping a few minutes at the aid station.  It is easier to eat walking, so a little later when you hit an uphill segment, grab that cookie or banana out of you pocket and have another snack going up the hill.
  4. Always eat on the move.  Never sit down to eat.  Sit down to changing shoes and socks or while going through your drop bag.  (Take the time at "drop bag" aid stations to be sure you have pulled out what you will need to reach the next aid station with your drop bag.)  Once you have finished changing or gathering supplies, grab you food and head out.  There are exceptions.  Read my account of my stop at Winfield (50 mile turnaround) during the 2009 Leadville 100.
  5. Have your own supplies of things you like in a drop bag or cooler at the aid station. 
        (at the Run for Kids there is room for a cooler at the aid station.)
  6. Don't forget to eat and drink.  Don't Laugh, in 100 mile races you can forget who you are, where you are and what you are supposed to be doing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another Run for Kids Update

Amazingly, no one had donated $25 for a chance to win almost $500 worth of gift certificates from all those restaurants sponsoring the Run for Kids.  So, we are making a change.  We are going to make the gift certificate giveaway a Raffle.

We have almost $500 worth of $50 gift certificates to some great Birmingham restaurants.  They will be given away at the Run for Kids Challenge on May 5th.  We are selling raffle tickets for $5.00 each, for a chance to win $100 in gift certificates.

Anyone can purchase tickets, even non runners however you must be present at the race, at the time of the drawing to win. (That is, you must be in the vicinity of the Cedar Pavilion when we draw the winning names at about 9:30 or running on the course.)

We will draw four names from those that have purchased raffle tickets.   We will place the name of each restaurant on a slip of paper and put them in a box.   The four raffle winners will then draw two restaurant names out of a box and receive the gift certificates for the selected restaurants.

Raffle tickets may be purchased at Ultrasignup at registration or anytime.  Use this link to purchase tickets.
Buy raffle tickets at

Checks may also be mailed to:

Run for Kids Challenge,
   c/o David Tosch,
   4697 Bridgewater Rd,
   Birmingham, AL 35243.
Please do not mail cash.

Additional tickets may be purchased Friday afternoon May 4, at late registration and package pickup at Oak Mountain State Park, and Saturday morning right up until time for the drawing about 9:30 AM.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Update on Run for Kids Challenge

Package Pickup and Late Registration.

Package Pickup will be Friday Afternoon, May 4th at the Cedar pavilion at Oak Mountain State Park, from 4:00 PM until 6:30 PM.  If no one is using the Dogwood Pavilion we will use it. Late registration will also be open Friday.   I will send an email to registered runners before the race that can be printed and will allow you to enter the park (Friday afternoon only) without charge.  Saturday, the park admission fee is $ 3.00 pre person.  If you are coming out to register, tell the park attendant you are there to register for the race and they will probably let you in without charge.  Preregister to be sure.  

Also, the shirt order will go in on Wednesday of next week.  If you want a shirt, register in the next four days.  As I have mentioned before, I will not order extra shirts so only preregistered runners will get shirts.

Attached are aerial shots of the Dogwood Pavilion and the Cedar Pavilion.  The Cedar will be the race start and finish location and the aid station.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How to Take Full Advantage of Aid Stations

This one is going to be a little difficult.  I still haven't really mastered Aid Stations.  It seems no matter how much advanced planning I do, no matter how many cue sheets I have, no mater how carefully I have packed and labeled zip-lock baggies, I still make mistakes, sometimes serious mistake, in almost every ultra I run.  So why do ultrarunners have Aid Station Meltdown?  Well, in my case it is almost always being in too much of a hurry.  I don't Think ahead and I don't follow my plan when I reach the aid station.

If the ultra is short, like a 50K, then you probably don't have drop bags to worry about.  There you just need to think through your stop as you approach the AS.  Get out the electrolyte tablets or take the top off the water bottles.  Decide what food you want, if you need Gel's, if you want a sandwich or cookies.  Decide if you want to take some food with you.  I usually grab a sandwich and a banana as I am leaving.  I eat the sandwich as I walk away from the aid station or while I am getting back up to speed.  I usually take the banana with me to eat a little later.  It is a lot easier to eat a banana on the run than a sandwich.  The key is to know what you need and want at the aid station and take the time to follow your plan.

Drop Bags:
It is important to have planned what you think you will need at each aid station and pack it so it is easy to access.  This can be accomplished is any number of ways.  I use a lot of zip-lock baggies.  I pack the supplies in individually labeled baggies, sometimes baggies within baggies.  Some people use various type containers and have items laid out in compartments in a box.  If you have a crew member meeting you at drop-bag aid stations they can lay things out on a table or towel.  The latter option is the by far the best.  Your crew can ask questions to help you think through you needs.  However, you cannot always depend on the crew making the aid station.  Many aid stations are very remote and difficult to find.  Sometimes other things can happen, like another runners crew picks up your bag by mistake with the car keys to your crew's car in the bag.  (That happened to Marye Jo at Leadville in 2009 at Turquoise Lake aid station at mile 87.)

All this is important, but all the planning in the world is worth nothing if you don't think ahead and plan your aid station stop as you approach the AS.  Look ahead an listen.  If you know the course, you will know when your approaching an aid station so you know when to start getting ready.  If you are not familiar with the course ask the people you are running with if they know the course.  Generally, you can tell as you approach aid stations.  You hear cheering or clapping, at night you see lights ahead where there should not be lights.  You may know, from studying the race course maps, that an aid station is at a particular location and you can usually tell you are close.  Out west, where you can often see for miles, you usually can see the aid stations long before you reach them.  I have rarely had an aid station just appear out of nowhere without warning.

The point here is, as you get close to the AS, stop the conversations and start planning.  Do a quick inventory of things like electrolyte caps, GU's, etc.  If you have a cue sheet, get it out.  If you are using an electrolyte additive like NUUN tablets, go ahead and get them out and drop them in the bottle before handing it to the Volunteer.  If you are running with a carb mix like Carbo Pro, as I do now, go ahead and get out the next bottle to fill.  (I carry four, 10oz Nathan bottles in a belt like the one to the left.)  This is one of the most difficult things for me to remember for some reason.  I forget to refill them.  If the last bottle is empty, just throw it in the drop bag and be done with it.

As you reach the aid station it is a good idea to drink a reasonable amount of the remaining water in you water bottle or hydration pack.  That way you will not need to waste time at the aid station drinking water.  If you are carrying bottles, go ahead and remove the lid before reaching the aid station.  I wear shorts with pockets when racing and when I remove the lid I put it (or them) directly in my pockets.  Several times, in the confusion at aid stations I have lost the lid to my bottle.  It can be a little frustrating wasting time looking for a lid you lay down without thinking or dropped in the dirt.  I have also left an entire water bottle at an aid station and had to go back a couple of hundred yards to get it.  If you are wearing a hydration pak, remove it as you approach the aid station.  Open up the pack and get the bladder out and open it for the AS volunteers.  There are so many different types of closures for hydration packs, sometimes the volunteers have trouble figuring out how to get into it.

It is very important to know exactly how far it is to the next aid station and how long it will take to get there.  If you are running a flat, easy trail, six miles to the next as may not take long at all.  For me, that could be as little as one hour.  All I would need is one full 20oz. Nathan Quick-Draw. That same six miles at Wasatch or Hardrock or many other races could take 2.5 or 3 hours.  Throw in heat and a section like that could be a disaster.  Two full 20oz. bottles might not be enough.  If the next section is going to be particularly long or grueling and you have a limited amount of water (as with two 20 oz bottles,) the you will need to drink extra water before leaving the aid station.  You should also carry a cup of water and walk until you have finished it.  In my case, with an extra 10oz bottle in the belt, I could add an extra 10oz.  What ever  you do, don't run out of water.  This could be a disaster for you.

Twice, in an ultra, I have run out of water on very long climbs.  The first was at the Katcina Mosa 100K in Utah in 2008.  From the Big Spring Aid Station at mile 23.84 runners start a 6.1 mile, 3,000 foot climb to the top of Windy Pass.  (Now they have added another aid station.)  The climb is totally exposed to sun and the temperatures hit 100deg. that day.  I ran out of water half way up.  I really was not sure I would make the top of the pass.  I did reach the top and I got some cold water and sat in the shade and drank for about 20 minutes.  Unfortunately, the next aid station was over 9 miles away and there was no way to get there except run.  When I did finally arrive at Little Valley AS at mile 38 I was totally wiped out.  I just sat in the shade and drank about everything they had.  That was the end of my race.  

At the Big Spring Aid Station, I did not check to make sure the bladder in my pak was full.  I have no idea how much water the volunteer added but as he was filling it, in the back pack, I looked in and said that was enough.  He asked me if I was sure, and I said yes.  Always, Always, take the bladder out and be sure there is enough to get you to the next aid station.  ALWAYS!  Can I make it any clearer that that.

At The Leadville 100 in 2009 I make a similar mistake with almost the same result.  I was carrying two Nathan Quick Draws.  At the Twin Lakes aid station, I was way ahead of my schedule and in a hurry to get to our room, just about 100 feet off the course in Twin Lakes.  I grabbed a cup of soup and nothing else and headed over to the room to get my supplies which Marye Jo had all laid out on the floor.  I changed shoes and socks for the water crossing  about half way across the valley floor, before the start of the climb up Hope Pass.  I refilled both water bottles and picked up a few GU's for the climb and was off.  Within 200 yards as I started across the valley, I realized I was really thirsty and that I had not drank anything at the aid station or the room.  I had run this section of the course in the training run just a little over a month before and I knew how far it was to the Hopeless Aid Station at timberline on the climb up.  I knew right then I would not make it without running out of water.  I considered going beck to the room and getting more water but decided to go ahead and try to make it.  It was hot crossing the valley and there is no shad at all until you reach the other side, over two miles away, and start the climb.  I had almost finished off one bottle before I ever reached the other side.  I had also started rationing my waster so I would not run totally out.

By the time I finally reached the Hopeless Aid Station, about 1000 feet below the summit of the pass, I was wasted.  I was moving so slow, I was sure I would not make the cutoff at Winfield, the 50 mile point.  I sat down and drank a lot and ate what I could, but I felt awful.  Finally, I got up and headed for the top of the pass.  I slowly make my way over the top, knowing there was a 3+ mile descent just on the other side and maybe that would give me time to recover.  I walked all the way down the hill to the road, then had to walk the3.5 or so miles up to Winfield.  This was a very gentle climb that I should have been able to run at least part of, but I couldn't.

Marye Jo make me sit and take time to eat and drink a lot at Winfield.  I was there about 20 minutes.  I left with about 20 minutes to go before cutoff.  I had to walk all the way back down the road to the start of the climb back over Hope Pass.  By then I knew I would not make the cutoff back at Twin Lakes.  I stared the climb.  Strangely enough, the higher I climbed the better I felt.  I fell in behind several others and just used them as pacers.  By the time I reached the top of the pass the sun was setting and view of the setting sun on the mountains behind us was beautiful.  I wished I had a camera.

I began to run a little on the way down and once past the Hopeless aid station I ran most of the rest of the descent.  When I finally reached the valley floor I was able to run about half the time.  I reached Twin Lakes, changed shoes after the water crossing, gathered up supplies and ran up to the aid station.  I was out with 10 minutes to spare.  The climb up from Twin Lakes to the Colorado Trail was the toughest part of the race for me, but by the next aid station I was feeling good and running.  It took me hours to recover form the dehydration the resulted from not following my plan through the Twin Lakes Aid Station.  I eventually gained almost one hour back on the cutoff and could have run most of the final 5 miles (uphill) to the finish.  I didn't because I was running with two people that I had followed around Turquoise Lake and up the beginning of the long climb and I decided to stay with them to the finish.

More recently, at Rocky Raccoon 100 in February of  2012, I had similar experience at the Dam Nation AS.  Dam Nation is located at mile 6.19 and 12.2 of each 20 mile loop.  The next aid station is the Park Road AS at mile 15.61 or 3.4 miles away.  On the second lap, passing through Dam Nation AS, I was out of Carbo Pro in the bottle I had mixed.  I picked up a bottle at the aid station, put it in my belt, went on up to the tent and grabbed a sandwich and what ever else I wanted and headed out.  I never filled the bottle of Carbo Pro with water.  I figured I could make 6 miles without carbs OK and did not worry about it.  I ate a Honey Stinger waffle along the way and figured I would just fill the bottle on the next pass through Dam Nation.  Well, I once again forgot to fill the bottle, and again had no carb drink for the next 3.5 miles to park road aid station.

This time I was concerned.  It would be 45 minutes or so until I reached the next aid station and I did not have any extra water to mix with the Carbo Pro.  That meant no carbs again.  I would end up being without my Carbo Pro mix for 10 miles.  (1/10 of the entire race.)  I did add some of my water to the Carbo Pro, figuring it was better to have a little carbs than none at all.  I hoped I would not now run out of water.  This shows just how poorly my brain was functioning and I was only 35 miles into the race.  It really doesn't matter whether the water you dink has Carbo Pro, Perpetuem, or any thing else in it.  It is still water, and still keeps you hydrated.  Instead of just mixing it correctly and treating the mix like water, I mixed it way to strong and forced myself to drink it.  I did the same thing again at Cheaha.  I am not sure which AS it was, I think the second one, but I just did not fill the Carbo Pro bottle, again!  I will get this down some day.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sponsoring Restaurants of the Run for Kids Cahllenge

The Run for Kids Challenge, 12 Hour Trail Race, 50K Trail Race and Trail Running Festival will be May 5th. at Oak Mountain State Park.  We are giving away a gift package of donated $ 50.00 gift certificates to a bunch of Birmingham restaurants to someone that donates $25.00 or more to Camp Smile-A-Mile, in addition to the entry fee.  Here is a list of the restaurants that have donated gift certificates so far and I have "almost commitments" from two more.  If  you live in the area, come out and run and make a donation and you may have a bunch of free dinners at some good restaurants.

We now have seven restaurants in our gift package.  Donate as little as $25.00 and get a chance to win the package.  You will receive $50.00 gift certificates from each of these restaurants.

  The Cantina on Cahaba Valley Rd, (The Cadence Center on Hwy 119)

Bistro V, 521 Montgomery Hwy., Vestavia Hills 

Carrabba's Italian Grill, 4503 Riverview Parkway, Birmingham 
      (The Target Shopping Center on 280)

Brio Tuscan Grill, Brookwood Village, Lakeshore Dr, Birmingham

Nabell's Cafe' & Market, 1706 Oxmoor Rd, Homewood

Edgar's Bakery - Shops of the Colonnade - 449 Southgate Dr, Pelham -
Patton Creek, Hoover - Cadence Place, Hwy 119, Hoover

Brava Rotisserie Grill, 5184 Caldwell Mill Rd. at Valleydale Rd. Birmingham

There will be more!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hydration and Electrolytes - What I have learned over the last 5 years.

In 1966, training to run the mile in high school, we frequently ran a three mile and five mile training route out from Mesquite High School, east into the countryside and looped back to the school.  No one ever thought about taking water.  During the summer before my senior year I started running a 10 mile loop way out into the country from my house.  I ran the 10 mile loop in the middle of summer, in Dallas, and carried no water and there was no place out there to get a drink.  I never thought about taking water.  I did my run on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  The highs in Dallas during July and August are above 100 deg. almost every day.  I don't even remember getting thirsty.  Salt tablets?  That was what we took before football workouts when it was hot.

The first time I ever drank anything while running was during my first 10K, the Azalea Trail Run in 1979.  Actually, I am not sure if I drank the water or poured it on my head or both, but I did grab a cup of water at the aid stations.  A few weeks later I ran another 10K and decided I wanted to run a marathon so I started running longer routs.  I found a 12 mile loop I liked and I always stopped for water at three gas stations along the run.  I selected them because they were equally spaced along the route and two had outside water fountains.  The third was the last place to get a drink before the final several miles to my house.  I usually drank out of a faucet by the pumps.  I remember passing a bank sign on Old Shell Rd that would read  as hot as 103 in the afternoons when I ran.  I always ran in the afternoon.  I was an accountant with a CPA firm and by the end of the day, I had to run!

From 1978 until the first two 50Ks I ran in late 2007 and early 2008 I never took any kind of electrolyte tablet.  Occasionally I would drink a Gatorade after a race, but that was it.  When I went to the Katcina Mosa 100K in Utah, John Bozung, RD of the race and also of the Squaw Peaks 50 Mile Trail Race  in Provo, Utah, provided every entrant with Enlyten Strips for the race.  I used them just like he said, "put one strip between your cheek and gums.  When the first one is gone, put in the next.  I never got sick at my stomach at all.  Of course, I only ran 38 miles but that took me almost 13 hours.  But that is where I started using electrolytes and suddenly I no longer got sick at my stomach every time I ran a long run.

Electrolyte Progression
1.  First two 50K races, water only. Beginning thru August 2008. We took Salt tablets before football   workouts.
2.  Enlyten Strips - Katcina Mosa 100K, Pinhoti 100 and Leadville 100. (great but burns your mouth)
      August 2008 - August 2009
3.  NUUN tablets - Wasatch 100, Tahoe100 (first 75 miles), Rocky Raccoon 100 (first 2 or 3 laps)
       August 2009 - February 2012
4.  Back to Salt Tablets - NOW!

How much water to drink?
Since my first 100 mile race in 2008 I have learned a lot and made a lot of mistakes.  Several times I have been sure I had the whole problem of hydration and electrolytes solved only to find out in the next race I did not.  Over the last year, and especially in the last few months, running so many races, I feel I have a better grasp on staying hydrated that I ever have before.  Of course, staying hydrated is the single most critical issue facing every ultra runner.  While fueling is critical to a strong finish in shorter ultras, or finishing at all in longer ones, improper hydration can be dangerous.

Lets review some basics.  A lot of people suggest weighing yourself, naked, before a two hour training run. Do not drink anything or pee during the run, then weighing yourself again, nude, before drinking or peeing following the run.  This would give you an exact weight loss from sweat during the run.  Of course, for this test to be relevant, you would have to perform it at 30 deg. F., 50 deg. F., 70 deg. F. and 90 deg. F and possibly at 100 deg. depending on where you run or race. (I can tell you, there is a huge difference in perspiration between 50 and 90 deg.)  With this little experiment, you could probably get really close to figuring out how much to drink during training run and ultras.  (There are a couple of complicating issues though.  If you tried this at Oak Mountain State Park here in Birmingham, you would probably get arrested. The 30 deg. weigh-in could be a little uncomfortable.)  Then, all you would have to do is figure out how to stay cognizant of the temperature progression from morning, through the heat of the day (or lack of same) into the cooling of the evening, calculate how much you needed to drink between each aid station based on the expected temperature and, of course, remember to drink that specific amount.  It is hard enough for me to remember to add water to my Carbo Pro mix bottles, never mind the rest.

I use a much simpler system.  I just drink all the time.  I literally drink a sip of water every four or five minutes.  I don't time drinks, I just drink a little, constantly.  This last weekend I ran the Oak Mountain 50K right here in Birmingham.  The temperature was about 55 deg. at the start and warmed to 82 by the time I finished (six hours, 54 minutes later.)  It was overcast and damp early and did not clear until mid morning. Then it got hot, a little later it clouded up again although it was still hot.  During the first section of the race, (start to first aid station) I covered the distance in 1 hour, 25 min and drank about 18 oz of water plus one of my 10 oz bottles of Carbo Pro mix.  The Carbo Pro totally dissolves in the water so you can count is at 10 more ounces of water so actually I drank 28 ounces or about 18 oz per hour.

The second aid station I reached at 2 hours, 54 minutes (almost 1.5 hours.)  During that time I drank 20oz of water and another bottle of Carbo Pro mix.  That is 30 ounces of water or 20 oz per hour.  About the same as the first 1.5 hours.   By now, it was getting hot.  The sun was out but the humidity was still very high. I reached the third aid station at 4:22.  (There seems to be a pattern here.,)  That is about another 1.5 hours.  From here we start a 2.25 mile climb up the red trail (a fire road) to the crest of Double Oak Mountain.  There is an unmanned, water only aid station along the crest about three miles from AS #3.  I drank about 15 oz. in that three miles so I refilled the bottle and finished it off as I reached the 4th aid station at 5:40.  That is about an hour and 20 minutes.  So I drank 35 oz of water, 10 oz of  carb mix or 45 oz total in 1.33 hours.  That comes out to about 34 oz if water per hour.

The final segment of the race is mostly down hill with only two short climbs with about 100 and 150 ft elevation gain.  I finished in 6:54:30 so that final segment took one hour and 14 minutes.  Again, I finished off my 20oz bottle of water and most of my carbo drink mix or about 28 oz. total.  I am back down to about 22 oz per hour.  Usually, the last mile or two of a race I just run and don't worry about drinking or any thing else.  I just want to get to the end.

I have decided to simplify my electrolyte mix.  Instead of fooling with NUUN tablets which work great as long as you mix them to exactly 16 oz of water per tablet.  That sounds easy enough but I have found in race conditions I just don't do very well.  I always seem to get the mix too strong and that causes real stomach problems.  There is one other problem with NUUN tablets.  When the water gets hot, the NUUN mix is almost undrinkable.  It tastes so bad I just quit drinking.  That is not good, especially considering that the water only gets hot in hot weather.  I now just eat "Thermolite" electrolyte capsules.  During the first three hours of the race I took one each hour.  When I started drinking more water, I increased the dosage to one capsule every 45 minutes.  I had no problems at all with cramps or upset stomach.

In summation:
First, I weigh 165 lbs.  The amount of water you drink and the quantity of electrolytes you require will likely be different than mine.  If you weigh 98 lbs. and try to drink as much water as I do, you will probably never reach the first aid station.  If you weigh more than me, obviously, you will need to drink more and take more electrolytes.  Also, everyone sweats at different rates.  Experiment and figure out what works for you.

In Cold or Cool Conditions I drink about 18 oz of water (liquid) per hour.
In warm temperatures, (70's - low 80's) I drink bout 25 to 25 oz per hour.
In hot conditions (85 - 90+)  I drink 35 or more oz per hour.
When the temperature reaches the mid 90s as it does in summer here in Alabama I drink even more but I really do not know how much more.  I will check that out in the next few months.
I take one tablet per hour in cool or cold conditions. (0 up to about 70 or 75 deg.)
As it get warmer, 80 to 85, I will increase dosage to one tablet every 45 minutes.
When it is hot, 90 to 95+ I will probably take one tablet every 30 minutes.
In reality, I just drink what I want and take electrolytes as I think I need them.  I still carry Enervit Tablets with me when I run and if I start to get a cramp I eat one.  I will also start drinking more when I first feel that little twinge in a muscle.  As it gets hot, and you drink more, so you need more electrolytes.  This you will have to experiment with in training and figure out what works.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Micah True "Caballo Blanco" Found Dead

Caballo Blanco Found Dead In Gila National Forest

Most of you probably already know this, but just in case you missed the story I copied this article from Scott Dunlap's blog.  Micah True disappeared on a 12 mile trail run last Tuesday and his body was located Saturday.

Micah True, known to many as "Caballo Blanco" from the book Born to Run, was found dead in Gila National Forest in New Mexico after not returning from a trail run. Friends and officials have been searching for four days when they found him last Saturday, his body by a cold creek. The cause of death wasn't known Sunday, although there were no obvious signs of trauma.
(Micah True, seen here in 2009 with Jean Pommier when he came to NorCal)
Micah was an incredible voice for the Tarahumara tribe, who quietly and humbly enjoy a simple life in the Copper Mountains of Mexico. They could use his voice now, since unprecedented floods have caused them to only reap 1% of their typical maize harvest. You can donate to help by sending a PayPal to (local Jewish relief org) or on theNorawas de Raramuri web site (founded by Micah).

I really enjoyed getting to know Micah and will miss his big smile and deep spirit. This is a sad loss of a truly original and inspirational trail runner. I find great solace knowing he died doing what he loved best.