Running an overnight relay with some of your closest running buddies is not the same as your average road trip. At first, it may seem like an awesome adventure to pile into a van or campsite with your friends while chowing down on some of your favorite past-time snacks. But ignoring nutrition is a big blunder, that can really turn your race victories into race regrets.
To avoid hitting the wall before your last leg, here are five mistakes to avoid when fueling for your next Ragnar race:
1. Not Planning Ahead
Treat a Ragnar race like any other race you train for. Similar to a marathon, test out different foods during training so you know what your stomach can handle come race day. Have the same mindset when training for Ragnar.
Just like any other endurance event, avoid junk food (easier said than done.)
Aim for high-carb, high-fat meals and snacks.
Since you’re running multiple times during the day and not getting adequate rest, it’s challenging to plan everything out. However, Monica Olivas, founder of RunEatRepeat says, “Figure out approximately what time you’ll be running each of your assigned legs of the race. This will change throughout the relay, and you should adjust these estimates as each runner finishes their part — but it can give you an idea of when is the best time to fuel.”
Once you have an idea of your run times, you’ll have a better understanding of when you need to pre-fuel. “Stick to your usual pre-run fueling routine as much as possible. If you usually eat an hour before a run, then do that. If you usually have a banana with peanut butter, then do that. But be flexible if that time window doesn’t work or your usual food isn’t available. Do your best using those guidelines,” expresses Olivas.
2. Stocking Up the Van or Campsite with Poor Food Choices
Things get tough when you can’t eat a regular meal. And, yes, we like to indulge from time to time.
You’ll probably see vans or campsites full of donuts, candy, licorice… which is considered junk food. If you eat a ton of these treats, by the middle of the night, your gut will be done. When one of your team members brings something that they typically eat, but you’ve never tested, we suggest avoiding it. If you stick to what your body knows, then you’ll avoid an upset belly.
3. Not Eating a Real Meal
Besides planning ahead and stocking your team with snacks, you and your teammates should plan for some “real food” when you have the chance. There’s only so much snacking you can do before you hit rock bottom.
Focus on food that you can eat quickly and that are relatively balanced. Keep in mind that your body runs better off on higher-carb, and high-fat foods, of course in moderation. Another trick to keep in mind is, avoid spicy foods. At least until after your final leg.
4. Overdoing It
During a Ragnar, whether it’s road or trail, you’ll burn a lot of calories within 36 hours. So, it’s important to replenish your body with calories to perform well, but you don’t need to over indulge. It’s tempting to eat a greasy burger, especially when you sit down for an actual meal —you’ve just burned a great deal of calories. However, overdoing your nutrition intake is a stomach disaster waiting to happen. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the relay.
5. Not Recovering
This is often forgotten once you finish a leg, but recovery is crucial.
Try to consume a mix of carbohydrates and protein within 30 to 60 minutes of finishing the leg you just ran. Studies suggest a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, especially following a run longer than an hour.
Shakes are easy to digest and don’t take up much room. You can also bring recovery protein powder and mix with water for a quick recovery drink.
Ragnar is a true, one-of-a-kind adventure. Like most adventures – it is always done with a bit of planning. So, map out your fueling plan (this includes where you’ll stop for your meals), translate it into a grocery list, and stock up properly. With these tips in mind, you’ll be ready to make it all the way to the finish line!