Posts tagged: recovery

Ideal Caloric Intake for Racing a 50k Ultra?

Cathy Fieseler, MD|

Q: I am training for a 50k but do not think I am taking in enough calories during my long runs (18-22 miles). I am taller (6 feet 2 inches) and weigh more (188 pounds) than the average long distance runner and my typical long runs last between 3 to 3 ½ hours. How many calories should I eat before, during (every hour?) and after?

— Jeff, California

A: A 50k is just 5 miles longer than a marathon, so if you have a nutrition plan that works for a marathon, this is a good starting point for a 50k. What you eat before a run depends on how much time that there is between eating and running. The closer to the race that you eat, the lighter the meal. Three or more hours before the run, you can eat a meal; avoid a lot of protein and fat and stay away from fiber.. An hour before the race, you may eat a bagel with jelly, an energy bar or some other food that is predominantly carbohydrates (about 300 calories is a place to start). If you are nervous, you may not tolerate more than this. You may find that you can eat a bit more than this and not experience any problems. The key is to experiment in training to see what works for you.

During the run, you should average 250-300 calories per hour. Electrolyte drinks (Gatorade, Heed, etc.) contain calories. Make sure that you try whatever fluids are served during the race while training; not all drinks are tolerated equally. You may add gels to this for additional calories. Most ultras have a wide variety of foods at the aid stations – fruit, candy, cookies, potatoes, etc. Additionally, you will find salt and/or electrolyte tablets. Practice eating during long training runs to see what works for you.

Read more about recovery and fuel for an ultra.


Lymphocytes, Immunoglobulins and Running

By Peter Pfitzinger |

You run the best track workout of your life. Four repeat miles, and you feel like Moses Kiptanui. You hang around in your sweat-drenched clothes, talking splits with the other runners, and savoring the atmosphere. The next morning you wake up with the Russian Army marching down your throat. You have the flu.

Did the track workout suppress your immune system and allow you to get sick?

The answer is not clear-cut. The immune system is a complex blend of lymphocytes, leukocytes, immunoglobulins, eosinophils, natural killer cells, and other beasts, each with its own unique role in protecting our bodies from disease. Recent research from McMaster University in Ontario, however, provides some interesting insights into running and your immune system.

In a study published in the August, 1995 issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Dr. J. Duncan MacDougall and colleagues investigated the effects of training on the immune systems of distance runners. Unlike previous studies, MacDougall’s group looked at the effects on the immune system of increasing training volume and/or intensity, and at both acute (immediate), and chronic (longer-term) effects. I contacted Dr. MacDougall to find out more about his results and their implications for runners.

In this study, two groups of six runners each, trained for 40 days, consisting of four 10-day training phases. The volume and intensity of training differed between phases. Group 1 ran at low volume/low intensity during the 1st phase, followed by high volume/low intensity during the 2nd phase, then low volume/low intensity again during the 3rd phase, and high volume/high intensity during the final phase. Group 2 followed the same protocol, but switched phases 2 and 4.

“Low intensity” meant running at 60-70% of VO2 max, while “high intensity” involved running 1,000 meter reps at 95-100% of VO2 max every other day. “Low volume” represented each runner’s typical training distance, while during the “high volume” phases, the runners completed twice their normal mileage.

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