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What You Need to Know to Complete a 50 Mile Race

JFK50Marathon schmarathon. When 26.2 becomes routine, one goes searching for a distance that appears more challenging. So how about a 50 mile foot race? The JFK 50 is America’s oldest 50 miler. At 5:00 a.m. on November 21 I started my journey in the dark somewhere in Maryland. At 4:30 p.m. that day, somewhere 50 miles further away, I collected my medal for completing the ultra endurance race. It was amazing.

Wondering if a 50 miler is in your future? Read on to find out more what it’s all about and decide if you’d like to add it to your bucket list.
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How to Survive an Ultra Marathon

rebecca scritchfield ultramarathonBecause completing my first Olympic distance triathlon was not enough, I decided to follow up a week later with my first ultra marathon – a 50K (31 mile) trail race in The North Face Endurance Challenge series! If you’re surprised, trust me, I was too! I actually thought I was competing in a 20-miler! But, you know what, when it came down to it, I trusted myself and my nutrition fueling plan. I just committed to having fun.

Here’s how I survived my ultra marathon:

  • Carb-load - Carbs are gasoline for the body and you can’t attempt a 50K without putting gas in the tank. I had two cups of whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce and some salted steak fries the night before my run.
  • Early riser breakfast – I woke at 4 a.m. for a 7 a.m. start and I noshed on a toasted plain bagel with almond butter, a banana, and water.
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What to Eat Before Endurance Races

rebecca scritchfield triathlonThis past weekend, I competed in my first triathlon. The race course consisted of 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run. I can’t tell you how much fun I had. From learning how to swim and cycle in the first place to learning how to rip off a wetsuit and clipping in to the bike, tackling a triathlon promises adventure for everyone who dares to do it. The craziest part for me was definitely the swim. Imagine humans swimming over and into each other. I was smacked on the back, legs, arms, head, and face. Thankfully, I got out in about 39 minutes. I managed to develop “ulnar palsy” (temporary numbness in the ring and pinky finger from pinching on the ulnar nerve while cycling) and acquire several bumps, scrapes and bruises — and that’s just from the biking!

The triathlon took me 3 hours and 2 minutes to complete and I estimate that I burned 2,000 calories! In fact, once I got my appetite back I was hungry all day! Clearly, my metabolism was on overdrive!

In this kind of race, good nutrition is paramount to have a strong finish. But if you just focus on what you do during the event, you’re too late. You need to fuel well all during your training to maximize the benefits. Most importantly, you need to take care to deliver the right nutrients 1-2 days before the competition. That’s what this article is all about.
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