Linda Quirk (www.run7on7.com), is an amazing person to say the least. She is an accomplished endurance athlete, having done marathons and Ironman races and has completed seven marathons on seven continents in one year. Recently though, she set her sights on doing the 4 Deserts which is a series of ultra-running races in various deserts around the world. These typically consist of 6 days of running with about 155 total miles completed.
Linda finished her first deserts run in Chile (Atacama Crossing) recently and finished with a cumulative time of 54 hours, 33 minutes and 7 seconds. I have been working with Linda for about a year and took her from being a traditional endurance athlete in terms of nutrition (high carbohydrate diet, ample sports nutrition products with a high caloric load per hour) to being a metabolically efficient athlete. The transformation has been unbelievable as she has dropped significant body fat and she has taught her body to rely more on her internal fat stores as energy.
She is living proof that metabolic efficiency works as is evident from her first Deserts run. Remember that she did 155 miles in 6 days. It was a stage event so she camped at night after running. Okay, now to the good stuff. She averaged roughly 103 calories per hour each day while running. Her daily times ranged from 7 hours and 3 minutes to 16 hours and 43 minutes time on her feet. Yes, 103 calories per hour during these efforts!
You may be thinking that she loaded her breakfast with crazy calories or she ate everything in sight after finishing each day but that could not be farther from the truth. Most mornings she consumed a drink that consisted of 180 calories, balanced with carbohydrate and protein with a splash of fat and decent sodium. That's it. Then it was off to running! When she arrived at camp each night, our initial plan was for her to consume freeze dried foods (one thing I didn't mention was that she had to carry all of her food with her on her back and her pack had a weight limit). Good intentions with using the freeze dried food but her GI system didn't like it too much after the first couple of days thus she drank one of her morning drinks to end her day.
At best, I calculated that she was consuming about 1200-1400 calories each day. That is a ridiculously low amount of daily calories for her expenditure but this, along with her proving that she did well on only 103 calories per hour, further justifies the fact that metabolic efficiency has its place among endurance athletes.
And not to forget, the elevation ranged from 8200-10000 feet throughout this race with temperatures ranging from 80 to over 100 degrees. At altitude, the body's requirement for carbohydrates increases but Linda proved what harnessing the power of metabolic efficiency can do!
A huge congrats to Linda and her quest this year in her next three deserts competitions. The Gobi Desert race is next up in about 3 months!
Be sure to follow Linda at www.run7on7.com.