The Lakeland 100 – one of the toughest ultras in the UK – starts tomorrow evening and will be my third time at this wonderful race. My first in 2014 was an amazing and enjoyable experience and I was lucky enough to win. Last year, I was second to the talented Paul Tierney. On paper that’s a great result. But in reality, it was a real tough shift and I had to dig deep. I suffered from stomach issues and was unable to eat for the first 30 miles, which isn’t the ideal was to run a 100-mile race. I’m happy that I gutted it out and I learned a lot, which I hope to rectify this weekend. A year has passed – with lots of reflection – and with some help from the guys at Mountain Fuel, I’ve drawn up a new plan.
Last year I ate too much pre-race. I had this fabulous idea (at the time) of having my dinner on the Friday for lunch and then while still totally stuffed, I had an additional large snack at about 3pm before the race. The problem is that my body is so used to having a light lunch (soup, yoghurt and fruit) that the lunch sat in my stomach and then I forced myself to eat 100g of porridge on top of that. The consequences being that I felt bloated at the start of the race making me feel lethargic and sick. Try running and having to eat while feeling like that. This year I will start my pre race food plan today (Thursday) and sip a Mountain Fuel Energy drink (500ml) throughout the day. During the day I will eat what I normally eat – what my body expects and what I eat before any long run training weekend. This evening, I will have a Mountain Fuel Night Fuel.
Tomorrow (race day) I will again have 500ml of MF Energy Drink – sipped during the day, normal porridge (and of course coffee) for breakfast and normal lunch. About three hours before the race start I will have a Mountain Fuel Morning Fuel made with Chocolate Soya Milk.
Another issue for me in last years Lakeland 100 was stress. This was my big race and I put a lot of work into it, so it was normal to be nervous and anxious.
I looked through every stat of every runner. I knew – who went off fast, who got quicker during the race, who would blow up after 40 miles etc. I had stats overflow in my brain. Then the race started and I ignored everything I had spent so long looking at. I ran after the leaders and did the first section six minute too quick. It doesn’t sound much but the first section is only seven miles and so that is 50s per mile too fast. In fact I still had one of the Strava segments for that first climb until only a few weeks ago. That was hardly going to end well. At the start of a 100 miler it should be easy and relaxed. Looking at pictures of the first few miles I can see I am working far too hard and my form is all over the place. Compared to 2014 (which was warm at 30C) in which I looked relaxed and calm (and 6 mins slower) All of this plus the masses of food in my gut and it’s no wonder that I had stomach issues and trouble eating. This year I have limited the stress. I haven’t looked at any stats apart from my own. I have tried to train less to the point I feel rather under trained. Work has graciously helped me with this in that it’s been damn busy with weekend work etc but even with that I have tried not to stress too much. You see I know that all stresses can really affect how your gut works and so I am trying to make sure that that is also something that won’t, well, stress me. Also as I spoke about in pre race I will be starting the race not feeling bloated but probably slightly hungry as my normal dinner time is 6pm. That way I will be able to eat from the word go. It’s not like you should need a lot of food during an ultra as it should be predominately a fat burning exercise and so I will just need to top up my carb level throughout.
During the race I will fuel with MF xtreme energy drink, sipping 4 – 500ml an hour while supplementing this with some MF pancakes and MF gel. The beauty of the Mountain Fuel system though is that it isn’t meant as the be all and end all system but rather a supplement to normal food. So I will be picking up things at the checkpoints too. Bananas, rice pudding etc. I’ll even have some Shot Blocs and I always carry some gels for the second half if I feel I need an extra lift. Mountain fuel though will be my foundation of my fuel plan.
At Dalemain which for the 100 runners is roughly halfway I will have a small treat. A Mountain Fuel Recovery Drink. Chocolate flavour. If you haven’t tried it, I’d highly recommend it. It is fabulous and something I will look forward to having.
Most of this plan was tested in a 24 hour race I did in Barcelona last year. During it I had no stomach issues and in fact didn’t even need to go until about 18 hours. This has given me the confidence to continue with the same plan and so stress less and with that, race better.
At the finish I’ll have MF Recovery Drink. Followed by a well-earned fish supper and maybe a pint of beer.