Think of the Bridger Ridge Run as about a third longer in effort as a marathon. If you think hydration and nutrition is important for a marathon, it is even more important for the Ridge Run. If you have already come up with a refueling regime for marathons that works for you, stick with it. Just remember, that proper nutrition before a race can have a big impact on your energy and comfort levels during the event.
For a resource on information regarding sports nutrition, see the Hammer Nutrition website. Their products are good quality, but on the expensive side. I compliment them on their generosity with their sponsorship of local races. Their website has lots of information on sports nutrition. If you follow their advice on sports nutrition, you can avoid a lot of training and racing mistakes.
Following is my race day nutrition routine that I have refined and adopted over the years. It is a bit complicated and may not be ideal for anyone else.
No Breakfast for Me
I do not eat any breakfast before a race. To avoid stomach distress and that heavy full feeling, I find I need to schedule my eating at least 4 hours before an intense workout or race. 4 hours before the Ridge Run is 3:00 AM. I’d rather be sleeping at that time than awake and eating.
If you are doing the Ridge Run for fun and not going at an intense effort, then you can probably get by with eating breakfast. If you are going to be out for 5+ hours, a meal before the race may be a good idea and provide a reserve of energy.
If you Eat Breakfast – Keep it Light
If you do eat breakfast, I suggest you focus on easy to digest carbohydrates. Avoid heavy fats, proteins and especially dairy products. Proteins before a race leads to ammonia build up causing fatigue. Fats and dairy yield that satisfying stick to the ribs feeling, but they take a long time to digest and empty from the stomach. Slow stomach emptying has negative repercussions during a race – interfering with refueling and fluid uptake.
I Eat Supplements Not Food Pre Race
Even though I do not eat breakfast on race day, I do take certain nutritional supplements and hydrate pre-race.
Nutrition Upon Awakening
Sports Drink (Gatorade or Heed) with Emergen-C, and D-Ribose
Vitamins: B, Q-10, Quercitin, NAC, L-Carnitine, Vitamin E
Nutrition During the Race
I start eating and drinking nearly as soon as the race starts. Probably within the first 20 minutes of the race. Following is a list of the food and drink I eat during the race. I carry the supplements and Hammer Gel with me. The aid stations afford me the opportunity to refill my water bottle, but I rarely take any food from the aid stations. I suggest participants taking more than 5 hours to take more advantage of the food provided at the aid stations then I do.
- Sports Drink 8 oz to 24 oz per hour depending upon heat factor
- Hammer Gel 1 to 2 oz per hour
- BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) 1-3 grams per hour
- Choline, 1-3 grams per hour
- E-Caps, 1 to 2 caps per hour depending upon heat factor
- ATP, 2 caps whenever I am feeling particularly tired or weak
- Emergen-C, 1 package added to water when refilling water bottle 1 to 2 packages total during race
Nutrition Post Race
As soon as possible after the race, I drink and eat till I am feeling satiated and full. I may also take some replacement minerals and vitamins.
Practice your Nutrition Routine
I go through my race day nutrition routine on the days I do a long 3+ hour training run. Whenever I enter a race, even if it is just a local 5K road race, I practice most of my race day nutrition routine – at least the pre-race routine.
Some runners, especially ultra-runners, swear Ibuprofen helps them perform better. Unfortunately, Ibuprofen taken during or after extremely intense physical activity causes health complications that can be serious. These include kidney failure, hyponatremia and even death. Research on performance enhancement shows there is no difference when compared to a placebo. Perhaps it just makes your performance more comfortable not faster. I don’t recommend it.