Spartathlon! One of the most demanding Ultra running games in the world, rooted in ancient Greece! Its history begins in 490 BC, when Pheidippides, an Athenian runner, traveled the distance Athens-Sparta in an attempt to seek help for the great Marathon battle between Greeks and Persians! Indeed, according to historian Herodotus, he managed to reach his destination the day after his departure and this was said to have been in September.
It has been many centuries since the foundation of the International Spartathlon Association, which has been organizing the race every September since 1984. It is a 246km long-distance race, which attracts runners from all over the world in late September each year.
What is Ultra running?
The term ultra running actually refers to long-distance running and is often referred to as “Ultramarathon“, since it refers to longer distances than the Marathon. Usually, ultra running races are 50km or more.
But what preparation is needed for a super marathon such as Spartathlon and what is the role of nutrition during the race, but also with the end of it?
Nutrition during the race
According to the famous ultra runner, Ann Transon, “Ultra running is a food and drink competition, with a little bit of running thrown in”, so as to show how important it is to provide our body with the right ingredients, during one difficult race!
The key to success lies in replenishing carbohydrates as it is an excellent fuel in endurance sports. In a good effort, you will certainly use fat and carbohydrates from your body’s storage, but it is the carbohydrates that will run out at some point and also the ones you will need in order to run with greater intensity.
Quantity and frequency
Although there may be slight differences depending on the body or the gender of the runner, most experts recommend that a quantity of 1-1.2g carbohydrate per body kg per hour (1-1.2g C/kg/h) constitutes a very good choice to get the best performance possible. If, for example, someone weighs 70 kg, you will need to consume 70-84g of carbohydrates per hour.
Such an amount can be easily met by consuming carbohydrate-rich energy gels. Energy gels provide a concentrated source of carbohydrates, which are indicated on long roads, as they help delay fatigue and improve endurance. Some athletes also choose bananas or cereal bars. Whatever you choose, pay attention to the amount of carbohydrates they contain.
What to drink during the race?
A good choice is sports drinks or energy drinks, which will also provide you with some carbohydrates. If you need something for sure this is electrolytes, as they will help you replenish the minerals and trace elements lost with sweating, while greatly reducing the chance of cramping. You can easily find energy drinks that also contain electrolytes in their composition.
Regarding the amount of fluids you need to consume, this depends on the sweating rate, so it is good to have your needs observed during previous workouts. It is also important to consider the climatic conditions in the area where you are competing and adjust your training to them. Also, do not forget to drink liquids before you thirst, as thirst is a sign that you are starting to dehydrate.
Recovery after Spartathlon!
What you consume after the race is crucial, as your body will try to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles over the next couple of hours! In addition, now is the time for the body to try to repair damaged muscle tissue.
So you’ll need both protein and carbohydrates! Carbohydrates convert 1.5 times faster than normal to glycogen these two hours after the race. Proteins, on the other hand, will take care of the various repairs your body needs, especially muscle repair. In addition to a good meal, there are special preparations available, such as Recovery drinks or Whey Proteins, which have the perfect proportion of protein and carbohydrates that your body will need after the race.
We should not forget about fluid replenishing after the race. An important detail that will save us from headaches, cramps and other problems. Be sure to replenish lost electrolytes if you had a lot of sweating fluids, as you would have lost some valuable metals and trace elements. Don’t make the mistake of consuming too many liquids at once, but prefer small amounts every few minutes.
While all this information that science and human body’s study has been able to provide us with, is certainly helpful, the only sure truth is that we must learn to listen to our bodies! Only these can show us when something fits or not!
In our country, the athlete with the most participation in Spartathlon is so far Giorgos Krystallis, who since 2003 has not stopped surprising us with his performance. He follows many of the tips above to get the best results, while this year’s effort is being enhanced by Lanes Active Club!
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