Fueling for Spartan Beast
With the Spartan Beast at Stoneham coming up this weekend, I’ve received a lot of messages asking me how to fuel for this type of event properly.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, IF you have an ideal performance diet and show up to a race with a full supply of glycogen, it only provides about 1,400 to 1,800 calories of fuel. During steady exercise at moderate to high intensity, you can burn through that in less than 90 minutes.
The fastest finisher in the open division for the 2016 Beast at Owl’s Head was 4:01:46. The fastest finisher in the elite heat was 2:59:23. Hundreds of racers took over 7 hours to complete the race.
YOU NEED FUEL FOR A SPARTAN BEAST. I repeat, you NEED to carry fuel and hydration for this race.
3+ hours is way too long to rely on a few water stations and your breakfast alone.
Many athletes do not consume an ideal diet to begin with, and if you’re not paying attention to your food and fluid intake in the 4-hour window before your race, you are going to be starting without a full supply of glycogen.
For an event like the Spartan Beast lasting more than 2.5 hours, you need to seriously consider your nutrition strategy and aim to consume 80-90 grams of carbohydrates and 600 ml of water per hour.
You could start with 30-60 grams of carbohydrates for the first few hours, but you also don’t want to get too far behind in replenishment. You will finish the race having burned way more calories than you can eat regardless, but you don’t want there to be a massive discrepancy and end up bonking.
Ideally, you should have been testing out nutrition strategies during your long training days leading up to this race, so that you know exactly what works for you. You should not be trying new foods and strategies on race day.
Night Before Spartan Beast:
- Keep dinner as “clean” as possible – nothing deep fried, breaded, creamy etc. Aim for 2-3 cupped handfuls of carbohydrates, 1-2 palms of protein, 2 fists of vegetables and 1 thumb of high quality fat (avocado, coconut oil). I personally eat vegan the night before a race, so the protein I am consuming is plant-based.
- Consume 2 cups of water at bedtime
Morning of Spartan Beast:
- Consume 2-3 cups of water when you wake up
- Eat at least 2 hours before race time so you have time to digest. Breakfast should mostly be easy-to-digest, low fiber carbohydrates such as:
- ¼ – ½ cup white rice mixed with 1 tbsp. nut butter + a glass of fresh orange juice
- Oatmeal with banana + glass of apple juice
- Toast with nut butter and jam + fruit + glass of juice
- 1 hour before race time, drink 2-4 cups of water with electrolytes, carbohydrates and a small amount of sodium
- 30 minutes before race starts, consume 30-50 g of carbohydrates (a banana or an Endurance Tap, for example)
- Drink 1-2 additional cups of water 20 minutes before race time
During Spartan Beast
- Aim for 30-60 g of carbohydrates per hour until 2.5 hours into race, then switch to 80-90 g of carbohydrates for remainder of race in the form of gels and whole food. You can also include a sports drink formula in your hydration pack throughout the event for a steady flow of low amounts of carbohydrates so that you don’t need to eat as much.
- Aim for 600 ml of fluid every hour, which should include a mix of electrolytes and carbohydrates
- Mix water with fruit juice
- Ultima Replenisher (electrolytes only, 0 g of carbohydrates)
- You could also use an essential amino acid formula mixed into your water.
After Spartan Beast
- Consume 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein within 30 minutes of finishing
- Include some sodium in meal immediately after race
- Consume normal meal (1-2 cupped handfuls of carbohydrates, 1-2 palms of protein, 1-2 fists of vegetables, 1-2 thumbs of fat) in your following meal
Want to Learn More?
Most OCR athletes know that they need to consume more calories than the average Joe or Jane to fuel their training. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy lives.
That’s why I work closely with OCR athletes to help them optimize their performance and improve their race times by making sure they are nourished on a cellular level.
Interested in OCR Peak Performance Nutrition Coaching?
If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, I encourage you to book a free phone call or Skype session with me. We’ll use this call to discuss your goals, your current lifestyle and what’s holding you back from getting to where you want to be.
If you’re ready to optimize your performance and improve your race times, this is your chance.