Just a little Pennsylvania Dutch humor, since we've been in that area of the
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
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 . . .
NUTRITION PLAN - UPDATE
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,
CONCENTRATED ENERGY DRINKS
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."
TIPS ON MIXING THE SOLUTION
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
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
(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).
SUPPLEMENTATION WITH GEL
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
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
Each ounce of Hammergel has 91 calories, so a five-ounce flask contains 455
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 . . .