Ultra Running personal nutrition tips – Dave Troman

As a distance runner I like to maintain a light weight frame while maintaining lean muscle, I also want to eat a healthy and balanced diet to ensure that I can still enjoy running into my retirement and not just for the next few years!

I can’t tell anyone how much to eat or in fact what they should be eating as we are all unique however my approach can be adopted and to be honest it is not rocket science… it involves monitoring how I feel, my performance and the occasional set of scales or mirror if I think I’m putting on or losing weight unnecessarily.

I have an open mind when it comes to food so don’t follow a specific type of diet or trend however I do keep my eye open for new ideas to try. I try and eat a wide variety of foods, made up from mainly fresh ingredients and are cooked or consumed raw. I do eat a lot of carbs as I find I perform my best roughly a 3:1 carb, protein mix although I am not scientific about portion sizes although when training hard I eat more etc. By eating a variety of fresh veg/fruit and lean meats, oily fish along with selected dried fruit, nuts, seeds and selected grains (oats and quinoa are favourites) I also cover my essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. I try moderate my refined sugar, processed food and alcohol intake as we all know these are not going to help my health and well being nor my performance.

My typical diet

Typical breakfast includes porridge with seeds (sesame and ground linseed), raisins and a drizzle of maple syrup.

I am a secondary school teacher so lunch can be varied and includes wholesome food where I can have meat, pasta or curry with loads of vegetables. On a Monday I treat myself to a pudding after a hard weekend of training.

For dinner I eat a bit lighter than at lunch time and try to keep my meals balanced rather than an emphasis on carbs or protein.

Real food is incredibly important but it can often be the supplementation that can make or break an event and having a few years under my belt I have on occasion learned the hard way as to the best approach to my race fueling.

How do you Mountain Fuel?
If I’m going for a long run I always utilise a Mountain Fuel Xtreme energy as it’s easy on my stomach, quick to absorb and keeps my glycogen levels topped up so I don’t bonk. By training with Xtreme energy I am able to get to know when and how how I need to sip to keep me going which is crucial in a race scenario where I can’t afford to allow my energy levels to dip.

Not having too much in my stomach when training and racing is important so I often turn to Mountain Fuels Morning Fuel pre-race and also as a top up at feeding stations as it is so quick to make, is small in quantity but packs a powerful punch with a balanced mix of carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals along with pro-biotics.

Post run and especially during a heavy training week Mountain Fuel recovery is one of my favourites, not only does it taste great, so good to look forward to but it works really well at ensuring my muscles are replenished and I am ready for my next training session.

Fuel Mechanics tip
Dave is an elite level athlete so he already had a decent basic understanding of nutrition and a willingness to explore subtle changes to his nutrition focus.

In Dave’s personal blog discussing his nutrition strategy he touches on his over use/reliance on gels in previous events;

“The most important part of my preparation for this race was getting my head around the fact that I could get most of my race energy from the Xtreme Energy Fuel. Prior to this, I felt that I needed to throw in gels to get me round my ultra races. I had a particularly bad experience earlier in the year and can trace the problems back to too much gel use. This time I was confident in my nutrition and happy that the Mountain Fuel products would get me round in good shape.” Extract taken form Dave’s blog about his UTMB experience.

Our view is that gels like many foods and products have a time and a place. With the right nutrition strategy you should not have to rely on gels as your primary source of energy, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t carry them as a back up for emergencies or that final push to the line if you have no other energy source.

When competing in Ultras you either have events where you can place your drop bag or you have to rely upon feed stations. If it’s a drop bag that’s easy as you can make sure you have the variety of foods, drinks, sachets to chose from however feed stations are a different kettle of fish. Always try and find out what the options are in advance and plan your strategy around this, you do not want to make decisions mid race when you’re tired and have that choice upsetting your stomach or affecting your energy levels.

The following is an extract from Dave’s blog reflecting on his approach to nutrition in his UTMB race;

“At each checkpoint, the organisers provide an array of cold meats, bread, biscuits and cakes, along with a salty noodle broth, and various drinks. My life-saver was the salty noodle broth. I avoided the cold meats as this would have been a break from the norm and I did not want to get the sugar rush associated with the cakes and biscuits, so at every station, I would have some broth, and as the race went on, I would manage to eat this when nothing else appealed.” Dave Troman

Sports nutrition for many can be as psychological as it can be physiological so use your training to fine tune what works well for you and don’t be afraid to change some of your existing habits, you may be surprised by what you discover.