Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Endless Analysis #3:Nutrition

Stuff I ate: 1/6 of an amazing, salty, peppery, mouth-savoring steak. One slice of pizza. About 10 or 15 Clif Blok packages (love the 3x Sodium!). Two or five Clif Bars of various types, maybe more. A nice pastry or two (thanks Matti and Ines!). A french fry or two. Maybe 5,000 calories all-in with the breakfast on the day of the event?

Stuff I drank: Eight Red Bulls. 18 liters of water/electrolyte mix plus another six or so after the event. An entire tub of Clif Electrolyte mix. Two coffees (thanks Java for the java!). One small but real hit of single malt scotch in honor of Guy Lacelle (who didn't drink so that's kinda funny, thanks Bill B., I took the bottle to the memorial in Canmore and shared it out).

Successes: Bloks, RB, electrolyte mix.

Failures: Steak (puked it up on the bottom of the canyon, no big thing, I was impressed with the color at the time...).

What could have been better: Fresh fruit, more simple sugars in the form of minty stuff, more simple sugars in general. The protein and fat are critical for me after about six hours, but I over-planned that and didn't have enough super-simple sugars on hand. When you're burning a whole truckload of calories every hour you need incredibly simple sugars, or at least I sure do. Because I was often on the edge of puking (anaerobic burns or close to it each time, a sure way to get close to your puking limit) I had to be very careful with what I ate and drank. A Clif Blok a lap, solid food at the start of the rest period every hour (about ten minutes if I was doing OK), just riding the edge of calorie absorption and intake vs. rejection. I'm stoked I only puked once, and it was pretty benign really.

What I did right:

Thanks to Dave Marvin, Aaron Batte and Jim Nowak I drank enough liquids in general. They had the bottle on top, I hit it up every lap pretty much, slightly warm water with lots of electrolyte mix in it. I am certain, based on past experience with long climbs and some really stupid planning that I would have imploded without the electrolyte mix in the water. That is critical. I was sweating despite the freezing temps, I wanted salt a lot, which for me is a sure sign that I need to drink more sodium...

I quit almost all caffeine and RB for two weeks before the event, and didn't take my first RB until at least four hours into the ascent. Every single can I drank had a strong impact on my performance, it just works, that's why so many guides are carting around cans in the mountains for both themselves and their clients. I buy the stuff when I travel, hundreds of dollars every year just so people are clear that I do fully use and believe in the stuff, it's not just a logo on my head.

I had a whole whack of different boxes of Clif Bars (I paid for these, pro deal, but I have no deal with Clif), the different flavours, products and tastes really worked for me.

What I learned that applies to other super-endurance stuff:

More heavy-sugar liquids. This was working well for me, I'd up my intake of those. Fudge, cheese, peppermint patties. I wanted each one of these "foods" so much at various points! More of an effort to consume "X calories/hour," and have that tracked by someone. I really blew it a couple of times, and while I never bonked I did lose my focus until I got a 100 or so calories back into the system. That's all it takes to get back into the game, kinda cool... I figure I must have burned at least 10,000 calories in the 24 hours, quite likely a lot more based on my heart rate and time spent climbing vs. resting. Who knows, hard to figure out, but interesting to guess.

I'd also pay more attention to how I was loading my energy systems in the days leading up to the race. I think I was likely taking in too much carbohydrate and not enough high-quality protein and fat, especially in the morning of the event. I've found over the years that I perform better when I'm careful with my diet in general, and especially in the few days leading up to a huge push or whatever physical torture I'm enmeshed with. I was a bit distracted in Ouray, and got hungrier than I should have a few times before the Endless Ascent started. I also had the stomach flu two weeks before the ascent; I honestly think that hurt me. Little things matter.

But, given my lack of adventure or 24-hour racing experience, it worked out pretty well thanks to everyone who helped directly or indirectly. You can't measure words of encouragement in calories, but they are just as important. Thanks.


Luke said...

Thanks for all the details! Really cool stuff.

Bill said...

Will - Congrats on your incredible performance and success!

Your detailed discussion and analysis of your training, diet, injuries and prevention thereof, and climb contain so very much good info.

You are awesome and inspiring!
--- Bill McC

p.s. Thanks again for your excellent clinic at the Ouray Ice Fest.

Bill said...


Got some footage of your endless climb. Hi def on a Sony Z1. I do have a FA in filming. (Fucking amateur)
If you think this would be of use, let me know and I'll send it to you. (Need address)

Thing two, got a green light from PBS for the paragliding disabled vet show. Looking for funding.
Do have a good, go to guy, at Red Bull?

Thanks Man
Bill Laurence

Anonymous said...

Holly Cow! Simply amazing...

Geoff G said...

Thanks for sharing this. I am always tweaking my training nutrition. I like the cliff blocks. I don't so much like Cliff shots or Gu-too much like a mouth full of rice syrup, though I know they work.I really like the Power bar shots and Endurance drink mix. Cytomax electrolyte drink mix is another favorite.
I have made my own Gu-type mix with rice syrup, maltodextrin,sodium and potassium.
I get really sick of all the bars so I make my own, basically Logan bars with lots of good stuff. I could pass along the recipe if you want- really easy to make and adjust to your liking.I still carry regular bars ready to go in pockets for fast and warm eating.
BTW- cool new ice discovery.