In obstacle course racing, fuel & gear are important components to a more comfortable experience. If you choose to eat or wear the wrong items, you could pay dearly. Not only in race time, but also in fatigue, digestive issues and possibly having to drop out or DQ.
Training and timing are also key to an effective and strong race. So be sure to take your fuel and training preparation seriously. Give yourself enough training time in order to test everything out prior to your race, a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks for short to mid races and at least 8 to 12 weeks for longer races.
So what do you wear? As a personal trainer and competitor, I have tested out what works for me and for my clients and found that the “less is more” approach seems to be the most effective. The less you wear, the less you carry, the longer you can go, the faster you finish.
Compression gear specifically designed for muddy & wet conditions is essential. Your gear should offer airflow, moisture evaporation or quick-dry and have UV protection. It should be comfortable, but snug enough to allow mud to slough off immediately. I personally race in Virus Performance Gear, which offers three lines of gear for different environments.
The stay cool series is made from a Natural Cooling fabric with recycled Jade stone engineered for staying cool, dry, and comfortable. A Bioceramic performance series engineered for endurance and recovery, and a StayWarm performance series engineered for staying warm, dry and comfortable, and which I have used all three. My favorite race pick being the bioceramic series, so comfortable you won’t even want to take it off to go to sleep.
Other essential gear for muddy & wet conditions that I never race without are gloves, a buff and gators. A buff will be your saving grace during hot, cold or windy conditions. Gators keep mud and rocks out of your shoes. My favorite socks are “Darn Tough” and in true Spartan spirit, they seriously are.
What to eat, what to drink? For races longer than 2 hours, camelbacks with proper fuel & hydration are a must. I use a mix of “LivePristine Electrolyte Balance” with lemon water in my camelbacks for all my races. I do not carry water and only drink it by taking advantage of the water stations.A good rule of thumb for fuel & hydration is to drink every 15 to 20 minutes and eat every 45 minutes to an hour. Although, I personally find this a bit aggressive for me, I suggest you test it out and find out what works best for you.
Try this tested, tried & true “Gunnar Stew” recipe offering complex carbohydrates and the perfect glycemic load for optimal performance.
To Gu or not to Gu, is that really the question? I prefer a whole food approach. Eat real food, even on race day. A mix of chopped dates, espresso beans, cacao and almond butter with protein powder is quick and easy to make or buy. Luckily, there are now whole food products with clean ingredients available virtually everywhere making this a much better option. You can also purchase squeeze packs like Noka Superfood Blend that offer balanced nutrition with clean ingredients like sweet potato and goji, or blueberry and beet.
The bottom line: proper training time, tested gear, pure fuel, true hydration, deep sleep & planned recovery play key roles in a great race.
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