It’s time for another update on my training for my first ultra run scheduled at the end of June here in Colorado. For those of you who don’t know, my preferred sport for a very long time had been road running. I moved to triathlons in recent years but decided this was the year to try my first 50-miler. I have never done any running events longer than a marathon and all my events have been on pavement. Sure, I’ve done my share of leisure trail runs - I live in Colorado after all! But as a sports dietitian who strives to serve my athletes in the best possible ways, I need to walk, run, and squirm in the same shoes you do to better understand the physical and nutritional demands. That whole “walk the talk” thing that Bob and I take pride in.
So, here’s what I discovered in March as I started to do more trail running: I love dirt and rocks. The scenery and solitude are where I find my bliss. I know it sounds touchy-feely and “very granola” as one of my friends puts it, but I am not afraid to say it. I get a thrill from the physical challenge of pushing my body in different ways than I have ever felt on the road. I am not coordinated or one of those graceful runners. I was actually happy to get my first fall over with and after looking around to be sure no one had seen me, get back on my feet and smile at the dirt soaking into this newbie’s skin. Thankfully Anton Krupicka wasn’t around to see the dirt flying and limbs scrambling.
What about nutrition? I’ve been testing out a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein for my pre-run fuel (calorie counting die-hards out there, it’s a whopping 180 calories) along with my usual 8 ounces of coffee and necessary water. During my long trail runs, I have averaged between 25-40 calories per hour. Very different than what traditional sports nutrition guidelines say you need. Why the difference? am I a rebel? is it my implementation of metabolic efficiency and nutrition periodization? You can guess what I believe. And if you have doubts, stay tuned as I continue to experiment, test the trails, and see how metabolic efficiency works for me.
Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD