A nutrition strategy for 50 miles

Running events like the Lakeland 50, is only partly down to physical fitness, the game is won or lost in your preparation. And nutrition plays a very important part of this. I’m still learning as I go, and making small tweaks on long runs. This is what I did for the recent Lakeland 50, which ended up being rather warm to say the least.

Pre Race Eating:

I try to eat a relatively clean diet as much as possible, although this sometimes falls apart when I’m working away on the road as a photographer and living in service stations. However the week before a race is very important to me, so I try to ensure that I’m eating good nutritious food during this time, and I add in bread with most meals for the last three or four days. I also will have ham or chicken for breakfast and at least one egg a day for the extra protein. Hydration also starts early and I ensure that I’m drinking plenty of fluids, so I don’t start the race on a back foot.

Registration Day:

Much the same as the days before, although I’m being extra vigilant about taking on plenty of fluids. And will eat a couple of smaller portions of pasta during the day to supplement lunch and dinner. Basically I make sure I don’t feel hungry at any point. Registration day can be especially stressful, particularly if there is a long drive involved, so I try to make everything easy and ready to go, although having a camper van sure helps for a hot pasta meal.

Race Day:

I like to get breakfast out of the way early, so will eat a bowl of porridge when I wake up, washing it down with a strong coffee. I will then graze on bananas and light cereal bars for the few hours between getting up and the start line.


Race time always comes around eventually. For the Lakeland 50 this year, I knew it was going to be especially hot. I also knew that finding water was never going to be a problem, so I kept my drink bottle for ¬†water. It’s a wide mouthed TORQ bottle, which makes filling from streams and checkpoints super easy. In my Platy-Pus I have 1.5litres of TORQ Energy Drink. It’s a lot to start with, but means I can run most of the day without having to refill it, and I just sip from the tube when I need it. I bag up a couple of portions of drink powder in freezer bags, so I can just dump it in when needed.

IMG_20130905_140045Gel’s keep me going on long runs. My plan around the Lakeland 50 was for 1 every 30 mins. I was aiming for 10 hours, so this meant starting with 20 gels in my bag. My time dropped by almost three hours, but fortunately I was able to pick a couple extra gels up at checkpoints. This strategy worked really well in the main, except I struggled and forgot to eat whilst on the long climb out of Fusedale. I took a massive slump morally as well as physically and found running hard work. Eventually I forced myself to keep sipping from my Platy and got the carbs on board I needed to get me back running. With that aside, things worked really well. I was using a selection of TORQ Gels, including the Rhubarb and Custard Flavour which are by far my favourite. I find all the TORQ Gels go down really easily, not needing to be washed down by water like most alternatives.

As they continue to target the Trail Running Market, they have redesigned the packaging slightly, to make them easy to open, but without losing tiny bits of micro trash. This simple move gets a big thumbs up from me, as there is nothing worse than empty gel tabs on the trail side.

Post Run Recovery:


After staggering over the finish line almost 13 hours later, rather wet and bedraggled isn’t the time you want to start thinking about rapid recovery. However it’s the most important time to get it right, even if you aren’t planning on running the next day. We need to get something in us which is going to help to¬†repair, recharge and refuel fatigued muscle tissue. I like things to be really simple, especially when I’m shattered after 13 hours of running, so I’m using TORQ Recovery Shakes, my personal favourite being the Mandarin Yoghurt Flavour. In fact, I like this shake so much, I’m finding excuses to drink it, which usually means an extra run or bike ride thrown in, so I can come home and mix some up.

How do you fuel your races..? Is there anything you think I’m missing here..?


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3 Comments on “A nutrition strategy for 50 miles
  1. Pingback: Nutrition Strategy for 50 miles: Reuben’s race review | The Trail Team

  2. I think this is a great article, Reuben. I particularly like your advice for the days before the race – this makes so much difference, especially keeping well hydrated. I’m amazed at your number of gels though! Did you not have any solid food at all?

    • I did, sorry seem to have missed mentioning that… I picked some food up at checkpoints. I’m a big fan of hot soup (not soap..!) and cheese and pickle sarnie’s are always good as is flapjack and chocolate. (Does any of that count as real food..?) But I do find I can stomach the TORQ gels for extended periods, much more so than other gels I’ve used…

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