Nutrition For Surfcoast Century

Over the last few months I've experimented a reasonable amount with my nutrition during the long runs (4-6.5 hours). I've tried a few different regimens, and varied my amounts. In the mix has been low to high calorie levels (100-340kCal/hour). Different fuel mixtures which have included testing of maltodextrin, fructose, glucose, protein and electrolytes. From this experimentation combined with a good amount of study, I have come up with a plan that seems like the right plan for the Surfcoast Century.

For the most part my plan falls close to the Hammer Nutrition Guidelines as found in their free eBook: The Endurance Athlete's Guide To Success. Well worth a read. Now I have to point out that I am not necessarily an advocate of Hammer Nutrition, and other than a few gels, don't tend to use their products. However, they do provide some very practical information that I have put to test in training. I was also fortunate enough to win a free entry into the Steve Born Nutrition Seminar, which covered exactly these topics. I attended the seminar last night. Too late to change anything now, not that that would be the outcome. What I did get from it was reassurance that I am on the right track. To win I had to submit my biggest nutrition mistake made to Ultra168. My story about the mistake of magnesium loading along with the other winners can be found here: Eating On The Run - Biggest Nutrition Mistakes.

Importantly I've found out a few things that just don't work for me. This is important, because I know what I definitely should avoid if I have change things during the race. On this list are higher levels of fructose. So the 2:1 ratio often suggested (60g glucose : 30g fructose per hour), are very much not tolerated, even at reduced volume. Protein in levels higher than 5mg/hour tends to lead to eating in reverse after a few hours. Also my fluid requirements in mild conditions are definitely on the low side. Too many electrolytes, almost regardless of which product used tends to result in frothing in my stomach that eventually works it way back up.

So what's the plan?

3 hours before race:  Liquid breakfast 80g maltodextrin, 10g soy protein. 360kCal.

Every hour during race will be a liquid mix giving about:

  • 50-54g maltodextrin
  • 1.5-2g soy protein
  • electrolytes with about 100mg of sodium in mix
  • Total 216kCal (variance will likely be 200-225kCal)
To break things up, I will occasionally consume a gel (maltodextrin base) and will have maybe 2 energy bars over the whole race which tends to reset the gastrointestinal system. Total calories will still sit in the range of 200-220/hour.

For mild conditions (typically less than 12 degrees Celsius) I tend to only require about 340-400ml of water per hour. Anything beyond this and I end up with toilet breaks every hour. If the temperatures rise, then of course that will increase fluid requirements, but this will be done to thirst. It is rare for me to require much over 500ml unless temperatures are up in the 30's. If I do need more water, then I will add a little more electrolytes to the mix. Nothing exceeding 300mg of sodium per hour.

These number may seem a little low to some. High to others. Race weight for me is about 65kg. I have tested the plan. For it to work requires a good dose of consistency. Proper pacing is integral. Going too hard too early or a burst of hard effort chews through the carbohydrate/glycogen reserves and may reduce some of the fat contribution to the fuel mix. Often pacing errors, are misinterpreted as nutrition errors. The other part of consistency is keeping the nutrition going in steadily, and not with massive feedings spread out. I find taking a couple of good mouthfuls of my fuel mix followed by a chaser of water about every 20 minutes works well.

On the day it's simple. I start each stage with a fresh fuel mix. The aim is to consume 200ml every hour of that, plus water as required. The maths for the gels and bars is simple for me. 1 gel = 100ml. 1 bar = 150-200ml. Simple because it needs to be.


  1. Wow! Thanks. You are really into the nutrition aspect of long event. I like what you said about paceing errors are often mmisinterpreted as nutrition errors. Makes sense.

    1. Thanks Marv. Of course I'll report back on whether this truly works for the full 100km distance. After all the hours spent training, and other associated commitments, I think it is foolish to leave nutrition to chance or just a rough guess. While I don't believe the nutrition will make up for any deficits in fitness/training, making mistakes with it can certainly lead to a race falling apart.


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