Race Nutrition with Kilian Jornet
iRunFar: I gotta’ know, during a mountain ultramarathon, how many calories do you consume? Are there certain foods you rely on?
Kilian Jornet: I have no idea. I never count calories. I eat a lot more now than when I first started. At my first UTMB, I drank maybe three liters and ate two sandwiches!
For food, I eat Overstim’s Aliment Liquide 640, a glass every four hours. I eat small sandwiches with jam and Nutella. And I eat gels during the last four or five hours of racing.
iRunFar: That’s pretty crazy, your first UTMB! Do you ever have stomach issues in getting certain kinds of food to digest or in food not tasting good?
Jornet: If I eat normal food, for me, it is not a problem. Too many gels are not good for my stomach. I sometimes have a problem with hydration if I drink a lot of very cold water. That gives me digestion problems.
iRunFar: How much fluid do you take in during a mountain ultramarathon? Do you drink just water? Or do you drink some sort of sports drink?
Jornet: For the drink, it depends on the conditions of the race. This year, I drank 13 liters of water at WS100 and five liters at UTMB.
I drink just water in long distance. How much depends on climatic conditions. Under normal, cool, European racing conditions, I drink one liter every two or three hours. The maximum I will drink if it’s very hot is between .7 liters and one liter per hour.
If I’m racing at night or in the last hours of a race, I maybe also have Coca Cola or Red Bull.
iRunFar: A Red Bull-amped Kilian is a fun image. At some races, you don’t carry much food or water with you between aid stations. And, once you’re in an aid station, you eat and drink a lot. What’s up with this?
Jornet: When I train, I never carry water or food. The mountain gives me everything I need, the rivers and fruits. Normally, I train for five or six hours with nothing. I am used to not having it.
In races I eat a lot at aid stations! They are every one to two hours on the trail. This is not long time to go without eating.
iRunFar: At this year’s WS100, you carried water and food between aid stations. How did that work out?
Jornet: Yes, that race is really different than Europe’s races. Really hot. It is for the heat that I carried one liter of water between every aid station. I also took salt pills every one hour at first and every 30 minutes at the end.
Why? I remembered every moment of last year’s experiences!
iRunFar: Do you notice that runners in the US and runners in Europe use different fueling and hydrating tactics? When you go to different places to race, is it hard to adapt?
Jornet: Is important to study every single race, the temperatures, rivers, aid stations. It is important to plan a strategy and to adapt to what happens in the race.
European races are more cold and you don’t need so much water, and the backpack is mandatory. In the USA, there is no mandatory equipment but you need to carry a lot of water.