Last year when I did the Unbound 200 miler as part of the Lifetime Grand Prix, I survived off of Tailwind Endurance Fuel and fig newton bars. I had no idea how to fuel or prepare my gut to sustain an effort for 200 miles. It turns out, Tailwind works amazingly for a long event in a hot climate like Kansas. But trying to take in a 200-calorie fig bar is dry, challenging, and maybe not the best for digestion. Since last year, I’ve learned a lot about fueling for long, hard bike races. I’ve discovered that everyone is a bit different when it comes to what they consume and that I have to learn what's best for me.
For this year’s Unbound 200 (and probably the rest of the Lifetime Grand Prix series), I will be using LOTS of Endurance Fuel, with a goal of taking in 200-300 cal of Tailwind per hour. But, and this is important, I didn’t just start with 3 scoops of mix one day. I had to train my gut and work up to taking in that much Endurance Fuel. I started with 1 scoop this winter and then slowly worked up to 3 scoops over the course of 6 weeks. However, I don’t do as well with over 3 scoops of Endurance Fuel. So 3 is my magic number and what I’ll be aiming for during these 6+ hr races.
At Unbound, I’ll be using the Berry and Tropical Endurance Fuel in my bottles and in my pack. My plan is to start with a 2L pack that has 8 scoops of Endurance Fuel in it, and two 24oz bottles with water. The first part of the race will be hectic and high paced so having my calories in the pack will make it easier to get them down. It will also be the highest intensity racing at the beginning which is when my body will be utilizing the most carbs; as the race goes on the intensity will drop and I will take in a tad less carbs but stay up on electrolytes and hydration. At the first aid station, mile 80, I’ll be switching out pack reservoirs with another 6 scoops in it (for 1.5L reservoir) and getting two fresh bottles. At the aid station, I’ll also be eating any other types of food I’m craving such as potato chips, doughnuts, bananas or PB&J. I will be carrying Endurance Fuel stick packs with me to add to any water I get along the way from the “water oasis” they have out on course. And then at the last aid station, around mile 160, I’ll have 2 scoops of Chocolate Rebuild to boost my protein, and then a fresh reservoir and bottles again.
It’s hard to know exactly how your body might feel for a 12+ hour race, that will likely be in the heat. Having a solid game plan for fueling, as well as training your body, mind and gut, for that game plan is a key way to eliminate any unpredictable issues that come up during the event. However, we all know life is never perfect and you can plan all you want but things happen, so having back-up options (like a PB&J) is never a bad idea. I feel confident in the plan I’ve made for this race and more importantly I’ve practiced my plan! Now it’s time to put it to the test!
Written by Ellen Campbell