With Kinetica Sports heavily involved in a number of ultra endurance events such as the Gower Triathlon, Montane 50/100 and The Sandman, we got Elite Sports Nutritionist and Kinetica Sports ambassador Matt Lovell to offer tips on competing in Ultra races.Ultra activities are very, very different to other forms of endurance – the rules change, the substrates (forms of fuel) change and different strategies need to be employed to maintain optimum performance during these events.
Here are a few thoughts I have on the subject;
Ultra endurance events require a higher level of fat adaptation than shorter duration events. This must be a background strategy employed by ultra-endurance enthusiasts. Simply put your need to eat more fat and less carbs whilst doing some of your training sessions and flex carb intake up and down. Over a period of months (yes it takes a while to properly fat adapt) you’ll burn more fats as fuel at a higher intensity of exercise.
Some fats burn faster than others – coconut oil with its high levels of MCT’s provides a faster burning source of fat. Ketones burn super-fast too – inducing a state of ketosis through fat adaptation can help ultra-endurance based events as long as you continue to provide fats and aminos into the fuel mix.
Don’t forget the carbs
Whilst fat adaptation is a great asset for ultra-endurance based events, topping up with carbs leading into and during these events is also vital to performance. As much as anything these carbs keep the brain happy (increasing dopamine) as well as a steady supply of glucose for the brain. The fuel mix should also contain BCAAs, and some performance fats as these will continue to be burned along with everything else during these epic 8-15 hour master pieces of human performance endeavor.
Other ways you can get tired include an overload on muscle waste products like ammonia, and general muscle protein breakdown leading to eventual inability to continue running. Stuff which helps clear waste products and prevent muscle protein breakdown should assist performance in these events. If you look up the ammonia cycle and kreb’s cycle you’ll see various items which can be of assistance like citrulline malate, ornithine and so on.
The brain can also be a limiting factor in these events – if you run out of motivation, finishing these events is highly unlikely – depletion of acetyl choline through repeated muscle contraction can lead to extreme fatigue and inability to continue. Taking a choline based supplement like CDP choline along with paracetam can prevent breakdown in this key area. Enhancing the dopamine pathways also through the use of tyrosine should prove effective due to its profound effect on reducing environmental stress.
Finally, sodium depletion fatigue becomes a serious issue in these prolonged ultra-endurance based activities – most people sweat 2-5 times the average sodium content of sports drinks. Additional sodium and electrolytes should be practiced with and added to your race day strategies.
For more information on events, check out our website events page.