Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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Start: Roanoke, VA (home)                                  
End:  Same
Today's Miles:                    -0-
Cumulative Miles:          1,126.9
Texas farmer, bragging about the size of his ranch:
"It takes me all day to drive across it!"
Reply from Pennsylvania Dutch farmer:
"I know what you mean. I've got a truck like that, too!"
- joke Jim heard on a Harrisburg, PA radio station

Mmmm, ripe raspberries!

Butterfly and bee both feeding on a thistle blossom.  Photos taken along the AT on 7-3-05

Just a little Pennsylvania Dutch humor, since we've been in that area of the state recently.

Jim and I are at home now for three days to get our mail, take care of the yard, get new truck tires, read e-mail, catch up on correspondence,  plan further runs up the Trail, run some long miles on a familiar course (that would be Jim, not me!), and for me to get a massage, chiropractic adjustment, and REST.

Although I'm generally more and more fit as I get farther up the Trail, at the end of last week I started getting new pains and symptoms, like trouble sleeping, that I haven't experienced until now on the adventure run.

The sleeping problems resemble how I feel the day after finishing a 100-mile trail ultra, not shorter distances like I've been doing on the AT: tossing and turning all night because I can't find a comfortable position, legs twitching, sudden nerve endings "firing" and causing me to jerk, and feeling alternatively hot, then cold, during the night (not menopausal symptoms, because the hormones I take control night sweats).

I think part of it must be the heat the past week, not just accumulated fatigue. Until last week I was running at higher altitudes in pleasant, even cool, temps. Since I've been at lower altitudes north of the Shenandoahs it's been in the 80s and 90s every day. I've had more trouble figuring out my electrolyte needs and I'm probably not hydrating adequately, either.

Since I've been sweating more I've been taking more Endurolytes (2-3 per hour instead of 1-2 per hour). But I also had more hand and foot swelling those days so I thought maybe I was consuming too much sodium. In addition to the sodium and other electrolytes I'm getting in my energy drinks, each Endurolyte capsule has 40 mg of sodium and more of the other electrolytes.

The last two days I ran I cut back to 1-2 capsules per hour. There was no swelling but the night twitching increased and last night - for the first time during this run - I had some leg and foot cramping. That would indicate to me that I'm low on sodium and/or other electrolytes.

And then I keep reading information about the problems ultra-distance athletes can have with hyponatremia (too much water, not enough electrolytes, if I understand the physiology correctly). Gotta keep working on this problem.

We're all an experiment of one . . .


I'd like to provide an update on my nutrition plan after 2+ months. In short, I'm really happy with it. I seem to be getting enough calories during my run/hikes, as I'm not totally famished at the end. I do crave something different to eat after eight, ten, twelve hours, however.

I've lost only six pounds so far but my body is much more taut than it was - i.e., lost fat, gained muscle. If I wasn't eating so much ice cream I'd probably have lost more weight by now! I don't think I'm getting the 5,000-6,000 calories I had heard I'd need but I'm definitely eating more than before and consuming a higher percentage of proteins and fats.

I eat a large breakfast (pumpkin/sweet potato soup, as described in Prep 17; oatmeal or cereal/fruit with milk; two scrambled eggs; juice; coffee) before each day's run. On the way back to our campsite I drink Recoverite and sometimes snack. I eat a large supper in the camper (have eaten out only about six times so far) and snack more before going to bed. Some nights I wake up hungry and go raid the pantry.

My plan while I run is simple and relies on Hammer Nutrition products (they are sponsoring me by giving me a great discount on their products). I've used their electrolyte capsules, Perpetuem energy drink, and Hammergel successfully in ultras and wanted to try them pretty much exclusive of solid food during this adventure run for two main reasons: to save time stopping to eat and to get a more even infusion of energy into my system.

It's working! Here are the details, which should also work for other people during ultra-distance events (running, walking, cycling, adventure races, etc.):


Every day I hand-carry a 20-oz. or 28-oz. UD bottle with a concentrated solution of either Perpetuem or Sustained Energy, powders which both contain carbs, protein, and fat for "the long run." I mix up to 8 scoops in the 20-oz. bottle (for runs of 6-7 hours) and 10-12 scoops in the 28-oz. bottle (for runs over eight hours).

I prefer the taste of Perpetuem so I use it about 3/4 of the time. Some folks like Sustained Energy plain. Others add any of the Hammergel flavors to it; I like SE best with raspberry Hammergel. I cannot tell any difference in how I feel between the two products even though their ratios of fat, protein, and carbohydrates are a little different.

A serving of Perpetuem (2 scoops) contains 2 grams of fat, 54 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of protein. It also has sodium (231 mg), calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, chromium, iodine, and copper. It has 260 calories.

A serving of Sustained Energy (3 scoops) has less fat (1 g), more carbs (73 g), more protein (10.5 g), less sodium (112 mg), and chromium (no other minerals). Both products buffer lactic acid and are easily digested.

What each does is provide a constant, even source of energy - no spikes up or down like something containing simple sugar. I take sips every 15-20 minutes, I'd guess, and wash it down with plain water.

The amount needed varies with the individual person. Most people would use one to two scoops of Perp per bottle (2-3 scoops of SE), mix it with water, and just drink it as they run. Each "serving" like this should last approximately an hour if mixed with 20-28 ounces of water.

With the concentrated solution I have to drink water from my Camelbak bladder to chase it down. The thickness of the concentrate varies from runny to almost viscous, depending on how many "servings" (hours) I want in the bottle. It didn't take me long to get used to the taste of the concentrated "drinks."


Mixing either powder completely took a bit of practice. This is what I now do with the 28-oz. bottle, which I use the most frequently. I'll use six servings or 12 scoops in my example.

1. Put six scoops of Perp or SE in a dry water bottle. Tap on counter to get it to settle in bottom. Add about six ounces of water and shake like crazy (with the lid on tightly!)  2. Do the same in a second bottle (smaller one works OK). 3. Add concentrate from second bottle to first one. 4. Add more water to fill the first bottle to the top, if necessary, and shake again. Refrigerate until use.

When I tried mixing up two six-scoop batches in the 28-oz. bottle the second part wouldn't mix well. Using two bottles and combining it into one works just fine and it's all in a nice even solution.

If you're using Sustained Energy you can add about an ounce of Hammergel at any point in the mixing process for added flavor.

Keep either mixture refrigerated until use. Even though I carry the bottle in my hand all day it doesn't taste rancid in the afternoon. I've always drained the bottle by the end of my runs/hikes. If I had any of the solution left I'd probably throw it out rather than risk a possible stomach problem.

Each "serving" of Perpetuem provides 260 calories, so 12 scoops (six servings) contain 1,560 calories. That's what I use during 6-10 hours of running. On longer days I carry more powder in a little plastic bag. That's probably what I'll do during the VT 100. I plan to use the concentrate there this time (instead of mixing just one serving at a time in my bottle) since it's working so well for me on the adventure run

Sustained Energy has 343 calories per serving, using three scoops. That's 1,372 calories for twelve scoops = four servings. That's about all I can get in a 28-oz. bottle without making the solution a thick paste (which is OK if you want it that way).


A couple times per hour I also consume about one ounce of Hammergel, which I keep handy in a five-ounce flask attached to one of my front shoulder pack straps. I carry one to two extra flasks (depending on the distance of that day's run) in my pack.

I usually go through one flask every three-four hours. My favorite use is at the beginning of a climb. I do notice a little surge of energy in a few minutes with the gel but I never get a "crash" with it because it contains long-chain maltodextrin and no simple sugars. It's absorbed easily and comes in eight flavors.

Each ounce of Hammergel has 91 calories, so a five-ounce flask contains 455 calories.

On a nine-hour run/hike, I consume about 1,560 calories from the Perpetuem (1,372 from Sustained Energy) and about 910 calories from Hammergel, for a total of about 2,470 calories (2,282 with SE).

If I'm predicting a longer time on the Trail I'll take an energy bar or muffin with me for a few more calories. I still love those harvest muffins (recipe in Prep 17)! But I really prefer the convenience of just sipping my energy drink concentrate and gel "on the fly."

And sometimes I supplement with yummy ripe raspberries (see photo above from Day 65) or some sort of appealing Trail Magic (fresh fruit is my favorite) found along the AT!


After each run Jim brings me a cold bottle of water and a cold bottle of Recoverite. I really believe it helps me recover faster after each run. My goal is to get it down before we get back to the camper because it's important to get the protein and carbs in my system as quickly as possible.

Two scoops = a serving, mixed with 12-16 ounces of water. It's pretty sweet but tastes good.

My problem is that I'd prefer either plain water or something salty after most of my runs. The Perp, SE, and Hammergel are somewhat sweet and I want something different at the end.

But I know the benefits of a good recovery drink. I've used them for several years in training and after ultras. I think they are even more critical in a journey run where I'm running so much day after day after day.

So I'm a Good Girl and drink all (or most all) of the Recoverite after every run on the AT. And sometimes I get my salt "fix" by eating some spicy Cheez-It crackers, too! Jim always has some of those in the truck.


I've never had any nausea or stomach problems during the adventure run using these products. I plan to use them in the Vermont 100 but will have to supplement in the race with some "real" food since I'll be on the course 28-30 hours. Since I started using primarily the Hammer products in ultras I've been able to avoid the night-time nausea I used to get in 100-milers.

All this talk about food is making me hungry. Think I'll go get some ice cream . . .

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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  2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil