It is an exciting week for many ultra runners in Australia as they taper and make their final preparations for The North Face 100, one of Australia’s premier ultra running events . Here, ultra runner, Lisa Tamati, shares some of her wisdom on nutrition for ultra running. Photos: Lyndon Marceau/The North Face

BEFORE THE RACE
In the days leading up to an ultra, I don’t do the traditional carbohydrate loading. I replace eating low quality carbohydrates like bread, pasta and white rice with high quality carbs like quinoa, pumpkin, kumara.

Don’t change your diet dramatically in the days leading up to an event because it can cause stomach upsets. Try rather to convert yourself slowly to whole foods, instead of processed, sugar, flavour and preservative laden foods. Eat plenty of leafy greens, good starchy vegetables and high quality proteins like grass feed beef, chicken, fish, nuts and lentils.

I suggest just eating 10 percent more than you usually would in the last three days before an event so all your glycogen stores are full.

DURING A RACE
During a race it is important that you never let the stomach empty completely of water. Try to keep it half to 2/3 full, which helps with digestion of food.

During races I stick to real foods and not just sugary ones. You may actually find that you crave savoury tastes. If I have access to it, I eat salted potatoes and packet soups. Sometimes I end up licking chips to get the salty taste and nibble on pretzels or rice crackers.

Always remember to eat little bits at a time. A constant flow of little portions is easier to digest.

In general, runners need to add in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates each hour that they are running longer than 75 minutes. But you’ll need to start fuelling earlier than 75 minutes into a run; by that time, your tank will be empty, and once you hit empty it is very hard to recover. Start taking in fuel within 30 minutes of starting.

I take in a bit of fuel every 15 minutes. I’ve found that this keeps my energy levels steady, and I don’t get large sugar level drops. Some runners find that when they add in too much fuel, like an entire gel at one time, their digestive system is upse

Be sure to follow your high-octane fuel with water. Your stomach can only tolerate a certain percentage of carbohydrates so you need to dilute your fuel in order for it to go into circulation.

Learning to read your body and when your sugar levels are starting to drop is a very good skill to have, when you suddenly start feeling sluggish, weak, dizzy, jittery besides the normal fatigue or emotionally upset, your sugar levels are dropping and you need more fuel.

AFTER THE RACE
After an ultra it’s important to get something in your tummy as soon as possible. Good quality proteins, fats and carbohydrates such as a protein shake, a banana and some nuts. Later, a solid meal that includes steak or chicken.

THE NORTH FACE 100
About 2000 ultra runners will be testing out their nutrition at The North Face 100 this weekend in the Blue Mountains. If you are looking to take your running to the next level, check out The North Face 100 2016, which has a 50km option for those first foraying into the ultra-scene, and a 100km option for the more experienced trail runners. Get a taste for The North Face 100 with the live stream happening at www.thenorthface100.com.au.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Having run more than 60,000km to date, Lisa Tamati has traversed on foot almost every major desert in the world, run the 2250km length of New Zealand in 38 days (averaging over 50km a day), and is among the top female ultra-athletes in the world. Running has become an important part of her life, her philosophy, her way to inspire and help others, and her passion. Lisa believes that there is so much more to explore, to learn; more limits to push and more people to inspire.