28 October 2022

Nutrition for Kullamannen 100 Miles by UTMB, Sweden

Nutrition, and more specifically the intake of carbohydrates and hydration during competitions. The Key in Ultra-trail distances!

Last weekend Fernando Armisén, Arduua Head Coach attended the “CONGRESO INTERNACIONAL DE CARRERAS POR MONTAÑA”, a mountain running congress in Castellón de la Plana, Spain.

Many new insights and wisdom in ultra-trails where gained, and now in connection to Kullamannen in Sweden, where we have some runners from Team Arduua next weekend, Fernando has some new great knowledge to share with you today.

Blog by Fernando Armisén…

Fernando Armisén, Race prep with runners at Trail Valle de Tena in Spain.

Hi guys!

Now that Kullamanen in Sweden is coming soon for some of you, today I wanted to talk to you about a key issue in ultra-distance races. Nutrition and more specifically the intake of carbohydrates and hydration during competitions.

I remember a few years ago, there was no nutrition culture, and I found the problem that athletes did not eat enough in race and fatigue and energy drop were noticeable as the hours passed…. And now it seems that in recent years there is a race to see who is able to eat more in ultras and I’m finding many runners with problems on the contrary … try to assimilate too high concentrations of carbohydrates and end up with gastrointestinal problems that are very difficult to reverse in race.

I share with you my thoughts on this matter corroborated with several expert nutritionists in mountain runners this past weekend during a fantastic international Trail congress that we had here in Spain.

– Historically the brands of isotonic sports drinks for endurance sports have been studying that the 8% concentration of carbohydrates is ideal for the assimilation of energy in the majority of athletes. This means about 30-40 grams in half a litre. Isotonic sports drink only has to contain: carbohydrates + water + salts (sodium).

– In recent years, studies have shown that there are some athletes who can assimilate a much higher amount of carbohydrates per hour than the 50-60 gr/hour previously recommended, talking about up to 90 and 120 gr/hour, which has led many brands and athletes to increase their carbohydrate concentrations disproportionately to the amount of water they ingest.  

– It should be noted that water is FUNDAMENTAL to assimilate carbohydrate intakes and maintain a correct electrolyte (sodium) balance to replace those lost through from sweating

– Most amateur athletes will perform perfectly well in a race if they are able to assimilate these 40-50-60 grams/hour of carbohydrates and therefore do not need to go to the higher amounts that elites might need as they normally run at a higher intensity and for a shorter time.

– To be able to safely assimilate any amount of CH requires training and trying everything many times. Even foods in different forms that are good for you at one time need to be retried and tested because they may feel worse later on.

– In conditions of high temperature or higher sweating rates of some athletes, hydration and electrolytes have to be taken care of even more.

– Increasing the proportion ingested in the form of real food to the athlete’s liking is often a great strategy (even though it may take more time to prepare and more space for transport).

– The recommended temperature for drinks is between 15-21 degrees

– The capacity of an athlete to assimilate higher proportion of carbohydrate may depend on his genetic, and history with training and nutrition.

In conclusion, don’t get the message that the energy limitation in a race is only the amount of carbohydrates that you will intake, don’t get obsessed with the amount of carbohydrates you should ingest because the water that accompanies these carbohydrates is as important or even more for their correct assimilation. So put the focus in a well-balanced nutrition plan between carbos, water and electrolytes avoiding big concentration drinks or products.

If you like to know more about Arduua Professional Coaching, and How we train, we are always here to help you, that are preparing for any trailrace 5 – 150 km or more.

/Fernando Armisén, Arduua Head Coach

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