When it comes to fueling for an effort such as the Leadville 100 there are several additional things to consider in order to have your best day. When racing at high elevations we all know it is harder to breath but what does this mean for your fueling needs and how hard can you push your body?
As we increase in elevation our body requires more fluids due to an increase loss of fluid from respiration (our breath). This means if you haven’t increased your predicted fluid needs for the race you will run the risk of becoming dehydrated and cramping. We recommend that you consider adding in an additional 1-1.5 liters of fluid per day while in Leadville. Along with a fluid increase we also need to increase our carbohydrate intake due to our bodies working even harder while at rest. You should be able to overcompensate for this by doing a proper carbohydrate loading period the days leading into the race (see our pre-fueling post for more info on this)!
The last piece I want to touch on before jumping into nutrition recommendations would be adjusting your power output while racing. As we increase in elevation our bodies threshold level also decreases. On average most research shows that you can expect around a 3% decrease in power for every 1000 feet you gain in elevation from your normal elevation. This means as you are pushing hard up those climbs be aware of your heart rate since you will reach your max heart rate soon than you would back home. Remember that it is a long race and it is never good to push past your limits early in the race!
When developing your fueling plan for the race there are three main factors to consider: how many grams of carbohydrates do you plan to take in every hour, how much fluid do you plan to drink each hour, and how much sodium should you be replacing every hour.
You goal should be to consume between 60-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour of the race. This means you have to start fueling as soon as you start racing, and don’t wait till you start to feel fatigued! Many athletes like to set reminders on their watch or bike computer telling them to eat every 20 minutes. This way you never miss your fueling. You can get carbs from sports nutrition products such as gels, chews, and bars, but you can also utilize real food like pretzels or rice cakes.
Another strategy is to have a carbohydrate rich drink mix that you sip on throughout the hour. This is a very efficient way to get in carbs, fluids, and electrolytes! Some go-tos are Skratch Labs Superfuel, Maurten 320, and N2 C90!
As mentioned above, you will need to increase your fluid intake every hour, so if you normally drink 16 oz. of fluid every hour consider bumping that up to 20 or 24 oz. of fluid per hour. This will be critical to keeping you hydrated as you climb up to 12,000 feet! You will want to make sure you are utilziign the aid stations to replenish your fluids and if its hot it can feel nice to grab an extra bottle of water to pour over your head!
There are seven different electrolytes within the human body, however, one rains supreme when it comes to exercise. Sodium! This is because sodium is the main electrolyte lost in our sweat while the other ones are much more tightly regulated within our bodies. You will see that most electrolyte tables and drink mixes included a little magnesium, potassium and chloride as well. When our body becomes depleted of electrolytes this will lead to cramping, performance decline, and it could even land you in the medical tent. With that being said if you find that you are a heavy sweat and are dripping with sweat and have white salty streaks on your cycling kit and helmet straps you may need a higher electrolyte option in your bottles (or from a capsule).
Pro Tip: make sure you aren’t carrying any extra fluid or weight up the long climbs, every little bit or extra weight will add up on your overall time!
Once you have determined your fueling and hydration needs it is best practice to study up on what will be available at each aid station. If you plan to use the products available at the aid stations you should practice with them in your training as well. This way you know how your body responds to them and help prevent any GI distress. Below are the different aid station and crewing stops, have you determined which one you will refuel at?
Aid 1: Carter Summit at mile 10.5
Aid 2: Pipeline at mile 28.5 (crewing location)
Aid 3: Twin Lakes Dam at mile 41 (crewing location)
Twin Lakes Alternative Crew location at mile 44
Aid 4: Columbine Mine at mile 51.8 and race turnaround
Twin Lakes Alternative Crew location at mile 59
Aid 5: Twin Lakes Dam at mile 63 (crewing location)
Aud 6: Pipeline at mile 74.5 (crewing location)
Carter Summit – inbound (mile 92.5)
Tell us about your fueling strategy. Wlil you have a crew supporting you? Are you going for speed or are you out there to have a good time? Lets see if we can help provide support to those on their first LV100 MTB Race!