With another Leadville 100 trail race over, the feeling of being chewed up and spit out by that extraordinary course is on the minds of many. A DNF is no fun for anyone, particularly if you trained your heart (and legs) out in hopes of reaching the finish line. If you were one of the ~53% who DNF’d at Leadville (or any ultra race this year) due to a nutrition and/or hydration issue, take a read through these few tips to take your future training and racing a notch up:
- It may be hard for you to think about what happened. You may not want to relive certain memories, but reflection on what went well and what went awry is super helpful for your future “nutrition direction”. If your crew kept a log or any kind of notes, be sure to review them. Some questions to include in your reflection:
- What did you eat and drink the day before?
- What did you eat and drink before and during the race? When and where were you on the course?
- Was there anything you consumed that was new for you or consumed in a different amount, or at a different time interval from your training?
- Have you raced in similar environmental conditions previously (elevation, climate, etc.)? How did you do?
- When did you start to feel what? In other words, did you dry heave after you consumed 3 energy gels the previous hour… or did you have several “oh my gosh, where is the nearest porta potty right now!” moments? Write down all the nitty gritty.
- Once you have some data collected, take some time to assess your observations and experiences. Discuss in depth with your coach or consult with a coach who is experienced in this type of racing. Perhaps you did not have adequate training time under your belt or the training was not specific enough. Or maybe you deviated from your race plan too early.
Additionally, seek the guidance of an experienced Sports Dietitian who can dig deeper with you to assess the type and amount of calories you consumed, along with the role of hydration (or lack thereof) and its impact on your performance along the way. There are actually a number of factors that can influence your race day nutrition plan and how well it unfolds. There’s no time like the present to learn, particularly if you want to continue your athletic pursuits!
- If you decide to skip the above steps, then absolutely start fresh next season. Remember that your daily nutrition highly influences how your body needs to be fueled during training and racing. You can adapt your body to be more resilient with training, no doubt. But your nutrition is a huge player in this game we play…and it can make or break your dream day. Decide to make changes and learn what you, individually, need to thrive and keep going forward.
-Dina Griffin, MS, RDN, CSSD,
Board Certified Sport Dietitian