funny what you'll eat when you're really hungry. I remember trekking through in
the heart of the jungle, days into the Eco Challenge and savoring a water bottle
full of iodine treated water and roman noodles. Sounds awful now, but it truly
tasted like a home-cooked meal. Food is fuel. Food is comfort. Food is love and
entertainment. In adventure racing, food is a complex and tricky performance tool.
As with many sports, there is no one super fuel that will work for everyone. Food
choices are highly dependent on the length of the race, the climate, individual
tastes and of course, the weight versus the calories.
Sprint adventure races that last up to 12 hours in duration are high intensity
and require quick foods like sports drinks for the sugar and electrolytes, bars
and gels. The team is moving very quickly in the race and in the transitions.
The body can function well on carbohydrate sources of fuel.
Races lasting 24-48 hours require a bit more. Dried fruit, nuts, bars, sandwiches
and sports drinks are a few examples of foods that will supply fat, protein and
carbohydrates. Foods that will carry you through extended hours of sleep deprivation,
fatigue and muscle depletion. I remember racing in the Florida Coast-to-Coast
race and having a fast food mirage overcome me during the night. My body was craving
fat and salt and all I had was sweet bars and gels. Luckily, we brought money
and passed right by an Arby's. That was the best roast beef sandwich and curly
fries I've ever eaten! Get to know what your body craves and bring a variety of
foods to satisfy your needs. Always carry a little cash in case you come across
a food source.
In crewed races, teams can rely on cooked
meals that are quick and easy to make. Theses foods should be high in calories
and tasty to eat. Mashed potatoes with butter, cup-a-soup, ravioli in a can are
just a few of my favorites. Food choices that are higher in fat and protein will
stay with you longer. Because the intensity is lower in longer duration races
you can get away with more complex calories.
length races lasting longer than three days involve planning foods that are high
in caloric value and low in weight. Utilize the transitions to eat more complex
and heavy meals like canned ravioli and macaroni and cheese. Carry lighter food
items that are heavy in calories. Trail mix, chips, chocolate and peanut butter
and jelly sandwiches are good examples. Remember, variety is key.
Don't make the mistake I did. I packed like my grandmother after a holiday meal
in my first multi-day adventure race. I had enough food in my pack to feed the
entire team. I carried most of it the entire course and it ultimately cost me
energy rather than supplying it. Pack light, think light. The whole idea is to
Plan, prepare and practice with various
foods. Find out what works for you. What sounds good pre-race may taste awful
on the course. Tastes will change. Get to know what your body wants and needs.
You will eat more frequently during the race and perhaps prevent bonking.
Dialing in food choices for racing is a continual process. But the rules never
change. Keep things simple and efficient, tasty and low in weight.