30 Jul Eat well and enjoy your race!
One of the most common mistakes of newbies of staged races is to participate to one of those events without having tested correctly the feeding strategy, or to choose the food as if they do for a non stop race. Staged races are different, and desert running creates even more unique conditions. The “feeding strategy” has to be prepared a long time in advance and you should try all the meals you are going to carry with you. Do not buy a “desert pack” or a “week pack” from the internet and think that that will work for you. That combination can work for most of the runners but might not be good for you. Always try the single components of the desert packs before buying the full set. When we are at home we can easily skip a meal and integrate with something else, in the desert every single planned caloric intake is crucial and skipping a meal could mean not to be able to run the next stage.
If you don’t underestimate those aspects and you plan carefully your meals you will not have any problem in finishing the race, and you will be in the best conditions to enjoy the beauty and magic of the desert.
1) Follow the race rules. The rules are stating that you need food for 6 days and a minimum of 12.000 kcal. This means an average of 2.000 kcal per day. This amount is the minimum required to participate in the race, however, your calorie needs might be much more. The fatigue and the heat will reduce your appetite and the risk not to eat enough food is concrete. Before the race try to keep a diary of what you eat and of your weekly calorie intake, on the web there are many apps for that, and do it for a for of a week of intense training. This will give you a fairly precise idea of how many calories you need and how you feel with that amount of food.
2) Eat all the time. Don’t plan a single or just two meals a day, the best strategy is to have a light breakfast, some snacks during the race (bars, gels, dry fruits, etc), the main meal just after the race and a light evening meal. Many people can’t eat just after the daily stage, as they feel too tired and they lose appetite. A complete meal after the daily stage is crucial for a correct recovery and preparation for the next stage.
3) Plan your meals. Your first day in Oman will not require any food from home, we will transfer you from the airport and lunch, dinner and soft drinks will be included and provided by the organization. Also, the morning breakfast of day 1 is included, your last meal sitting at a table before the start of the race. At the end of the race, on day 6, you will find at the finish line grilled fish, meat, fresh fruit and. This means that you will need food for 4 full days (stage 2,3,4,5) + 1 day ( breakfast of stage 6 + lunch and dinner stage 1): 5 days of meals and 6 days of race snacks.
4) Test your meals. All the dry freeze food you can buy on the web or in stores have been studied to be tolerated by the majority of people. Don’t trust statistics. Always buy samples and try your meals before buying what you need for the race. Try to differentiate as much as possible: rice with chicken and curry is the most loved dry freeze meal, however, is not a good idea to try to eat it a lung and dinner for one week.
5) Don’t underestimate the snacks and the breakfast. Alternate bars and gels with dates, nuts, dry figs or dry meat and plan to eat small and frequent amounts of food during the effort. Vacuum-sealed small portions Parmesan cheese are also a great solution, and this kind of cheese can resist the heat of the desert. Don’t skip the morning meal: in one or two days you will be paying a high price for this decision.
6) Don’t forget electrolytes. Electrolytes (salts) are very important to avoid dehydration. The supplements contained in gels and bars are not enough. Plan to assume them with food or in small and frequent doses.
7) Test your backpack: the food must fit your backpack and you will be able to run with it. Don’t forget to try to run, or even better, train for a month or more, with your full backpack. During the race, the weight of what you carry will decrease daily but the fatigue will increase. Be sure you can run with what you plan to carry and be sure that what you plan to eat fits the backpack.
Good planning means to run a good race. If you have doubts, ask us and we will be glad to help you. You can also discuss or ask advice to the other competitors in our closed Facebook group, just for ODM Runners