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Tegyn Angel

Ultrarunner, Coach & Masochist

Tegyn Angel

Ultrarunner, Coach & Masochist

Case Study: Dek

The importance of tailoring your nutrition strategy to your event.

One of our customers, Dek, recently wrote to us for advice.  It was a great question (well it was two, really) because he was after advice on two completely different events; a shorter, high-intensity stair race and a longer, multi-day paddling event.

I’m currently entered into the Eureka stair climb (88 floors in firefighters full turn out gear) on the 19th of November and the Massive Murray Paddle (404 km kayaking over 5 days) I’m doing this event in support of Too Many Pricks.  I’m just an average guy who’s go motivated by watching the others in Too Many Pricks do some amazing events/challenges … My question to you guys is what products should I be using before, during and at recovery?[Which] Vfuel products … would be best and what would you would recommend for my events?


So let’s break it down a little. In the stair climb you’re going hard straight out of the gate. The start is staggered so you aren’t racing to get in front of the person next to you in order to secure a good place on the course, but if you happen to catch the person in front of you, you’ll definitely want to get past them. There is no warm up in a stair race, it’s peddle to the floor from the outset.  While it’s still important to pace yourself lest your pace fall off like a reverse hockey stick, the pacing strategy you use here very different to that you employ during a multi-day event.  It’s a trenches charge, a war of attrition versus the methodical, manoeuvre approach of covert ops.

The Eureka Climb Elite Race qualifying standards are 11 minutes for men and 14 minutes for women, which puts it relatively close in duration to a 3000m race (Mottram’s Aus. record is 7:32.19 against Mark Bourne’s Eureka CR of 7:34). While Dek plans to climb the 88 floors in full Fire Fighter turn out gear and won’t be going anywhere near these times, the intensity will still be very high.  Given the time it takes for the carbohydrate in a gel to hit the bloodstream, our advice would be along the following lines:

Fueling for a Stair Race

  1. Ensure your last meal was a minimum of 2hrs before the start of the race.
  2. Spend at least 15 minutes warming up to increase body temperature and expose the body to mild stress.
  3. Include four sets of strides at 60, 70, 80 & 90%
  4. Take one VFuel gel 15-20 minutes before the start of the race (e.g. as you’re starting your warm-up).
  5. If you’re planning to take any fluid during the event (entirely optional), VFuel Drink in a bottle will help to get extra carbohydrate on board, though this would contribute more to recovery than to race performance given the time it takes to reach the bloodstream.

The Massive Murray Paddle is a different beast entirely. Split across 5 days and taking anywhere between about 30 and 55hrs to paddle the entire distance, there’s far more to consider than is the case with something as short as Eureka.  The nutrition strategy needs to consider recovery and refuelling just as actively as it does intra-race intake.  The intensity of effort will (I hope!) be substantially less than that of the stair climb which means you can digest more calories per hour.  While you’ll never (and should never aim to) replace calories out with calories in during an event, taking in a tolerable amount during the day will help avoid falling into a substantial calorie deficit across multiple days.  Combined with sensible (or in my case, excessive) eating between race days, you should be good to go (at least from a nutrition perspective).

While we could write an entire series on multi-day fueling (hey, that’s an idea…), here’re some basic considerations.

Fueling for a Multi-Day Race

  1. Starting with a gel 15-20 minutes before the start of the race, aim to take on between 200-250 calories per hour. This figure should be tested in a race simulation during training.
  2. Our personal preference for hitting this target is to consume 1 x VFuel Gel (100cal) approximately every 45 minutes and support this with one sachet of VFuel Drink consumed over 2 hours. This is equivalent to 230cals/hour.
  3. You can scale this up or down depending on your personal preferences and tolerance.
  4. Immediately post exercise take the fuel you’d rationed for that period, or consume another sachet of VFuel Drink. The supplements (e.g. Citrulline Malate, OKG) and electrolyte content will accelerate recovery while the Carbohydrate will help to replenish your glycogen stores.
  5. Follow this with quality protein, anything you can find that will help to alkalise (leafy greens, apple cider vinegar etc.) and reduce inflammation (fish oil, turmeric etc.) and plenty of fluid.
  6. Ensure you continue moving gently throughout the period between the end of one day and the start of the next; active recovery is better than Couch Potato recovery.

Good luck with the races Dek!

What do you think? Any other hot tips for fueling over multiple days of racing?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!  Why not drop a comment below and share your experiences?

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