Thru a sustained intense physical effort it is as important to be very well trained, have the physical condition and endurance, as it is to eat and hydrate properly. Doing both right will make a notable difference. Putting it as a metaphor, you could say that the trained body is a car. The better trained, the bigger the engine in it. Whereas the food and liquids are the fuel that moves the car. The better you eat and drink, the more fuel you have and more efficient it is.
Whit that in mind, is how we designed the menú for our (we did not know exactly then) 8 to 10 hours run in the Sonoran desert. We had the engine, now we needed to work on the fuel. Advised by the superb runner, lovely human and great nutritionist, Gaby Escalantes, we came up with the following menú -fuel list (portions per person):
When your exercise intensity is high and prolonged, making sure you eat enough is critical. From all the calories burned during intense and prolonged physical exercise, the great majority come from carbohydrates, then fat and last protein. Therefore, a carb load a week before such a challenge is indispensable and also why in our fuel list, carbs where predominant, followed by good fats (peanut butter, avocados, olive oil etc.) and last protein.
Being big advocates of Michael Pollan, specifically of his book "In Defense of Food", we tried to include in the list mostly real food, not processed. Next time we will even exclude energy gels, waffles and similar, and substitute them for real food portables.
One stellar superfood our engines relied on thru our adventure was spirulina, used as a primary source of energy and power by the ancient Aztecs. It was sort of `power-food´for them that gave energy quickly and increased stamina, so it was for us.
Overall we can say that our fuel selection was very good. It got us thru 8 hours and 20 minutes of effective running at a steady and fast pace. We did not suffer dehydration, nor did we break because of undernourishment. Next time we will add up food zone portables as mentioned and work on another menu fit for the conditions of our next adventure. If you wonder where did we carry all of this, well we had a pick up truck follow us. Every 10km we would stop some minutes and reload our camel bags with liquids and food. We don't know if we will have a pick up truck next time.
Disclaimer: we are not professional nutritionist, we where partially adviced by one. We at Aire Libre love health and we know that we are what we eat. Therefore we are constantly reading, learning and cooking healthy food. If you reader have any comments and wish to add up to this blog post, by all means do.
Post written by: Mauricio Díaz Arellano
Photos by: Daniel Almazán Klinckwort