Nutrition Breakdown for Ultra-Marathon Runners

The nutritional demands of ultra-marathon runners during training and racing play a large role in performance and recovery. A common challenge revolving around nutrition within these athletes is simply meeting the daily caloric demands that are essential for performance and recovery.1 Similar to a periodized training program, nutrition intake should be periodized in order to accommodate for the changes in volume and intensity throughout training and competition.1,2

Several factors influence our daily caloric demands.1,2 Examples of these include:

  • Body Composition
  • Resting Metabolic Rate
  • Daily Activity
  • Training Requirements
  • Environmental Conditions

The International Society of Sports Nutrition released findings that included an estimated daily caloric and macronutrient requirement for ultra-marathon runners. This was broken down based on sex, typical body mass/fat, and the duration and pace of a session.1 

Aside from overall daily energy and macronutrient intake, another consideration that should be made is fueling during running.1,2 Appetite dysfunction, taste fatigue, and gastrointestinal symptoms are common after fueling during training or competition.1,2 Practical nutrition recommendations have been made to aid in this aspect of training and competition.2 

Examples of these recommendations include:2

  • Test specific food and fluid quality and quantity during training
  • Test different carbohydrate types and forms during training
  • Alter the rate of intake during training; trial higher intakes in the early stage of the event (gastrointestinal symptoms are commonly lower during the first 2 hours of running)

How Can My COROS Help?

COROS watches provide an estimated amount of calories that are burned during your recorded workouts that you can use to help estimate your daily energy intake needs. It is important to note, that your physical activity is just one component that makes up total daily energy expenditure. However, it is important to monitor the energy expended during a workout, because this will greatly impact your daily needs. Aside from using the watch to track your energy burned throughout a workout, you can also use the watch during your runs to set reminders, timers, etc for when you need to refuel.

Conclusion

It’s clear that nutrition plays an essential role in performance and recovery. With that said, it’s also a difficult aspect to maintain throughout training and competition within ultramarathon runners. Due to the role and difficulty of this aspect, it should be a fundamental component of all training programs. The recommendations listed above should provide a good starting point, however everyone’s nutritional needs are truly individualized. If you are wanting a plan tailored specifically to you, please consult with a sports dietitian for additional help.

References

1. Tiller NB, Roberts JD, Beasley L, et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: nutritional considerations for single-stage ultra-marathon training and racing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2019;16(1):1-23.

2. Costa RJS, Knechtle B, Tarnopolsky M, Hoffman MD. Nutrition for Ultramarathon Running: Trail, Track, and Road. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. 2019;29(2):130-140.

Michelle Singleton
Michelle Singleton

Michelle has a diverse background in the exercise and sport science world. She is currently finishing her PhD focusing on Human and Sport Performance, with additional backgrounds in athletic training and nutrition. In addition to this, she is a certified and licensed athletic trainer, personal trainer, and educator. She utilizes her extensive education and clinical experience in athletic training, nutrition, and exercise science to help guide and educate others.

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