January 11, 2012 cburnham

Training the Gut and Shattering Perceptions

Recently there have been a few studies looking at caloric intake during ultra events and performance.  One recently published study looked at the correlation of caloric intake and performance in a 384kilometer (238.6 miles) cycling event.  Their findings were that while it is difficult to meet energy demands in ultra endurance events, the athletes that consumed the most calories had better finishing times.  Another study published last summer looked at the correlation between increased carb intake with increased performance, and nausea and gas, for Ironman distance athletes.  It is obvious that the better we meet energy needs in longer events the better our performance will be, but what about that whole nausea and gas thing.  Do we, and our unfortunate riding partners, have to deal with that?  Can we train the gut to handle more?

Desiree Davila thought she could.  I was reading through the latest issue of Runner’s World when I came across a great article on the elite marathon runner.  One part really caught my attention: Desiree started off on the track running 1500m, 5000m, 10000m events (her 10K time is 31:37) where fueling wasn’t much of an issue.  She didn’t need to drink, and even more so she couldn’t.  Everything would come back up.  So when she decided to focus on the marathon she didn’t take in fluids either.  That strategy doesn’t work so well in a 26.2 mile run.  She fell apart 21miles in.  So instead of accepting the fact that she couldn’t eat or drink while running, she focused on forcing in the fluids during training.  Her body rejected it at first but eventually it adapted.  She went from a 2:37:50 to a 2:27:53 marathon.  That is significant!

Who would have thought we needed to train our bodies to eat?!  Don’t accept your limitations as fact until you try to change them.  You are capable of more than you think!

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