Energia 24hr Race (part 2)

Post event, the injuries have been relatively few. The injuries that I had before the race (heels, left knee, right quad) are sorer, and I’d a few blisters but nothing too bad. The blisters were only because I’d worn lace less Hokas… note to self, only ever wear shoelaces!

Without laces you can’t get uniform tightness of the shoe and the area around your toes always feels a bit loose. If you pull tie-ups, it really just tightens the area near the ankle. This isn’t too bad on a normal run, but on longer runs it can more easily lead to blisters as your toes have more scope to move about.

The right big toenail looks as if it might come off, feels loose. Took about 2 months after Energia 2011 to come off, so will wait and see. Last two times, I was very dehydrated but this time, I was a lot better. Whilst humid, it wasn’t just as hot as last year which must have made a difference as I probably drank less than previous years.

Nutrition wise, I played it a little smarter than previous years. Normally I would have everything under the sun, just in case. But this year I focused on having drink, and small bits of food every hour. Lisa only ever filled the drinks bottle with about 150-200ml which was all I needed and was great. In total, over 12 hours, I took:

  1. 1-2 packets of fruit pastilles
  2. 1 slice of pizza (cold)
  3. 2 bananas – maximum, ½ banana at a time
  4. A handful of haribo
  5. 3 packs of Acti-Snack Sweet & Sour Mango
  6. 1 small bowl of pasta

To drink, I had:

  1. Water
  2. Blackcurrant dilutable
  3. About 750mls of Pepsi Max – Normally mixed with water
  4. 1 bottle of orange Lucozade – normally mixed with water

I’m generally not a fan of Lucozade, but just wanted energy and to mix the flavours up. The coke was mixed with water, to provide something nice to drink (I’d rarely drink coke otherwise) and to provide a little Caffeine. Eoin Keith was taking blended milk, which he said was ok on the stomach, and I know people from last year took slim-fast as a way to get proteins & energy etc. I love milk, but you'd need to keep it cold (warm milk not a fan) and wouldn’t be sure of alternating it with water on the stomach. Milk, and milk variations is something I will be keen to try out though over the next year though.

Stomach is a huge issue for me and many other runners, especially on a long run you need to be able to manage foods and drinks. In the Energia race it’s easier as you’re not carrying it with you, and can have a table where you can put all your stuff. It seemed the majority of runners faced stomach problems during the race, which then really changes your drink/eating capacity and strategy.

As it’s a track your only ever 2-3 minutes from passing the table, where your support crew (very important) can hand stuff to you. It works well, as it allows you to say, “next lap, 2-3 fruit pastilles” or “coke and water in about 3-4 laps”, which takes a lot of pressure off you running. You could, and people do, manage without support crew but it would be a lot harder. Also, there’s various supermarkets (one 24hr) within a few mile of the track, and you can leave extra stuff in your car beside the track, so logistically it’s a brilliant race to run…. Especially compared to a long ultra point to point in England or overseas where you won’t have that easily accessible support.

Strategy wise, this race is very unlike any sub 40mile race, as it’s not just a matter of going a good hard pace and keeping it up. You will probably run at a pace you don’t run much in training ever, you will run slower than you naturally run. You will need to build in rests and recovery, and how you will manage food & drink. You need to know what can you keep up, and sometimes there is only way of knowing and that is by running. Most importantly you need to ensure you can last the distance, if you go out too fast, even a small amount you won’t know for a few hours and by then its too late.

There is no way of replicating what the 12 or 24 hour race feels like. You need to see the faces of those on the track at the finish, and of those not on the track. Compare people on an hour by hour basis. No-one knows what their body will feel like after 4-6 hours running, especially as there is no end in sight. Unlike any other race, you’re 6-7 hours in and nowhere near the finish, you’ve got to live with the speed you have done so far and keep going. Between 7-10 hours, at which point it begins to brighten up again and people feel better is the toughest point for competitors (at least the 12hr competitors!).

This is a mental race, in terms of strategy/planning but more importantly determination. When it gets tough, and it will; when you have all the support in the world at the side of the track, and friendly people on it; it still comes down to you… having to put one foot in front of the other, for hours when it hurts, you’re tired/bored, you have doubts, your plan’s not working and there is no end in sight. That’s when you find out a lot about yourself, stuff you’ll find out in no other race… that’s what makes the Energia24hr the race it is… and why people want to run it, to test themselves.


The final part 3 of the blog, will be done over the weekend (photos added then)