We've paid our entry fee, trained hard and bought all the gear but the thing that often lets people down is fuelling correctly on race day. Whether you are looking to smash out a PB, pushing your body to its limits or are just looking to get round and survive. Taking on board the right fuel, at the right time can not only help you have a better run but it can also help you feel better during and after your big race.
Our guide is focussed around our products, a tried and tested system that is used by European and World class athletes. They are not 'sponsored' athletes receiving free products, these are some of the world's best who purchase the system to get the very best out of their races so please read on and if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch.
In the build up
Eat as you normally would (avoiding processed and fast food), ideally balanced meals based around fresh food you prepare yourself and get into the habit of sipping water throughout the day to ensure you are fully hydrated.
In the days prior to an Ultra Marathon it’s essential to ensure your system is as prepared as it can be, so our users often drink a Night Fuel in the evenings prior to an event as this helps to feed and nourish your muscles while you’re asleep and in your most restorative state. They will also ensure they are drinking plenty of water during the day for at least a week before their race to ensure they are hydrated.
Sipping an energy fuel the day before can also help with this process and if you have travelled, especially abroad then the vitamins and minerals in the energy fuel help to replenish your fatigued state. If you fly, drink plenty of water while you’re in the air to avoid dehydration.
Morning of the event
Avoid a ‘heavy on the stomach’ and large breakfast - we mean fry ups, too large a bowl of porridge etc. Having too much in your stomach is not going to help you when you start to run. Go for a calorific but easy to absorb breakfast like Morning Fuel and supplement this with a banana and/or some seeds. Or simply have a FeelGoodBar as they are energy dense yet light on the stomach and are very nutritious.
Sip an energy fuel just after breakfast and on the way to the start line too. The alternative is to have a Sports Jelly 15 minutes before the race starts.
"I’ve been using the Jellies since they came out and they’ve accompanied me on a 50 mile race on the North Downs, a multi-day race in Bhutan and a mountain ultra in the Pyrenees, as well as numerous long training runs. I’ve not experienced any sickness or drops in energy, even on the longest of runs. They taste great and even quench your thirst….finally I’ve found an alternative to gels that work! Thank you Mountain Fuel, I’m going to be using them on a road marathon next." Sarah Sawyer
Preparation is key. Little and often will keep you going all day so you must practice this in training. Get used to having a sip of your drink every 15 to 20 mins, a nibble on your bar or a jelly every 45 mins to an hour on some of your long training runs.
From the start of your race you should be taking on board fuel from 20 minutes in, don’t wait too long or you are already chasing glycogen depletion.
From this you can start to plan what you feel you will need between each checkpoint and prepare accordingly. For example if you think it’s roughly two hours between each checkpoint allow for an energy fuel, a bar chopped up into four pieces and a couple of Sports Jellies. That will deliver (roughly)
Energy Fuel (we suggest Raw for longer events): 40g carbs
FeelGoodBar: 40g carbs
Sports Jellies: 40g carbs
120g carbs over the two hours which is ideal in this instance. However please bear in mind we are all unique, have different metabolisms and are prepared to put differing efforts into racing (which has a significant impact on how much stress you put your stomach through). Weather conditions also impact on fuelling, hot and you will need more fluid, cooler, not as much etc. You need to practice in training to find what works best for you but accept that come race day, it could be a little different as you have adrenalin, a faster pace etc and you may have to adjust your plan slightly.
There’s lots of info out there about maximising carbohydrate intake up to 90g per hour but you have to have a well trained stomach and be vigilant as to intake, as too much fructose for example will end in a gurgling pit of misery. Your digestive and energy system also has to work hard to deliver energy in this way and when you’re working muscles and organs are crying out for blood flow etc on a longer event your body can simply start to shut your stomach down and that is when nausea, sickness and diarrhea can ruin your race.
We suggest that you aim for around 40g to 60g - roughly between 200 to 300 kcal an hour as a balance, on occasion you will go a little over and other times under. Ultimately you can’t absorb more than 250 kcal an hour so if you keep adding in more than this you are going to get issues…
Little and often of each, don't overload the stomach, just keep it ticking over and replenishing glycogen. Remember there is an internal battle for blood flow and fluid when you exercise, particularly over longer distances and in addition to this weather conditions can also have a big impact (Running in the heat, Running in adverse conditions). Your working muscles and vital organs are first in line for blood flow so you need to make it easy for your stomach as it is last in line and will be shut down if you eat heavy foods or the wrong types of drinks that require the body to divert too much blood.
"Finally a big thank you to Rupert Bonington at #mountainfuel. Eating on the move has always been something I have struggled with, and for about two years now I have been very reliant on their Raw Xtreme Energy Fuel. After meeting with Rupert in Keswick last week and trying out the new Feel Good Bars, I took a punt to see how they would help me through the race. They were great as I found I could eat “proper food” for longer into the race than usual, and they are so packed full of decent calories." Christopher Cowley Hardmoors 200 winner 2018 & 2019
The Energy Fuel has a balanced carbohydrate mix to ensure you rapidly replenish glycogen while delivering a sustained energy release. Added minerals (electrolytes), vitamins and amino acid ensures that your muscles are replenished and fuelled for all types of effort and distance.
The FeelGoodBars are energy dense yet very light on the stomach (used by Crohn's and IBS users) and incredibly easy to eat as they literally melt in your mouth without the need to excessively chew or leaving a stodgy paste that’s impossible to swallow. The fact that they are gluten free also helps reduce stress on the stomach.
The Sports Jellies are refreshing, easy on the stomach (again used by Crohn's and IBS users) and contain electrolytes and unlike other gels you can rely on these to deliver your fast acting energy without worry of stomach issues or the need to drink lots of fluid with them, even on a hot day. You can also exclusively fuel on these if you find it hard on take on solids.
Every 5 to 6 hours have a Recovery Fuel with around 200 ml water.. We can’t emphasis the benefit of doing this, this really does help reset the system and is replenishing your muscles on the go while offsetting DOM’s in the following day(s).
"Had 14 Mountain Fuel Sport jelly’s during my Cumbria Way Ultra. Not experienced any stomach problems or energy related low points. Very good product, easy on your stomach and very, very tasty." Jacob Snochowski
Yes you may want to collapse, chat to other competitors, loved ones etc but getting a Recovery Fuel in at this point will not only help you feel better sooner, it will also help offset DOMS the next day and that painful walk down the stairs may just be that little bit easier!
You can also consider a Night Fuel that evening too, will help you sleep and replenish your tired muscles while you’re asleep.
Put simply the system and products work better than anything else out there. We have the countries and world's best runners as paying customers. In the UK alone we see our users consistently on the podiums at races like The Spine Race, Dragons Back, Lakeland 100, Lakeland 50, Hardmoors, Cape Wrath and West Highland Way to name but a few. We also have every day runners able to enjoy their experiences far more, reducing the risk of nausea on a long race, experiencing PB's and recovering quicker. Our products aren't just designed to help you perform better, they are also designed to help you feel better during and after your run.
We have products that are very easy and light on the stomach, including gluten free and vegan options. We're delighted to have helped customers who have Crohn's and IBS type conditions to enjoy their running again, as finally they have a convenient and effective fuel that doesn't upset their systems.
Good luck and have fun and let us know how you get on with your next event.