Ultramarathon nutrition 80+ miles

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    I recently signed up to an 8020 ultra plan after several years of being a coached athlete elsewhere. I’m very impressed with the 8020 plan. I’m a seasoned ultramarathon runner and pick up the occasional podium if nobody good turns up 🙂 . I find it very easy to fuel for 12 hours of racing but struggle with anything further.

    I recently ran a marathon only fuelled by gels and smashed my PB and won my age group and it really opened my eyes to the difference the right nutrition can make for the right race.

    My AA race for this year is an 84 mile hilly ultra with challenging cutoffs. I’ve finished it once before but it was very close and I practically crawled it in. Based on my improved fitness level now, 6 years after my last go, and if I get my nutrition right then I have the potential to knock hours off my PB.

    My question is how does the advice change when the race is going to take 15 to 20 hours. How should I refuel? After all won’t it be hard to stomach 60 to 90g of carbs per hour for that long?

    Matt Fitzgerald

    For a race of that length it’s best to think in terms of calories rather than carbs. You’ll still be burning calories faster than you can absorb them, so you’ll want to take in what you can, but it need not be all carbs. If you can meet or exceed a target of 250 calories per hour you should be in good shape.


    Awesome. Thank you. That’s exactly what I needed and possibly explains why I haven’t been able to make my nutrition work in the longer races. I know what I can eat and I practice eating it. I just need to be more consistent about how much I am eating, carry enough and plan my drop bags better. Your advice gives me the missing puzzle piece.

    I’ll test it out on a few long runs and hopefully that will put me in good stead for the race.

    Keep up the good work. I’ve just started listening to the 8020 podcast and am enjoying that during my runs. I have plenty of episodes to catch up on.

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