Running an ultramarathon can be intimidating, but when you have a fueling strategy that keeps you strong late into the race, you may be shocked at how well your body and mind perform.

Just ask Sally McRae, elite ultrarunner and BPN athlete. She recently completed an unprecedented challenge of her own creation, the Choose Strong project. 507 miles across 5 races in just 81 days. Sally could have never accomplished this goal without the in-race nutrition plan she executed, mile-by-mile, race-by-race.

Sally has some tried and true tips to share on the nutrition that keeps her going, from mile one to the end!

This is your expert fueling guide; whether you're running your first ultramarathon or trying to set a new personal best, Sally's guidance will help you get to the finish line feeling stronger than ever.

CALORIES IN, CALORIES OUT

Getting in as many calories as possible during an ultramarathon is crucial. In its simplest form, a calorie is a vital form of energy. Fueling can be the difference between a finisher's belt buckle or a DNF.

Your body burns many calories throughout these extended efforts, and output can be even higher in races with large amounts of climbing or elevated temperatures. If calories out don't get balanced out by calories in, performance can quickly decline.

As part of your training for an ultramarathon, you should practice nutrition regularly. Find the foods and supplements that work best for you, practice using them regularly, and implement a fueling plan to push you to the finish on race day.

Here is how Sally considers her nutrition strategy for an ultramarathon.

TWO TYPES OF FUEL

In your plan, you should consider two types of nutrition, liquid calories, and whole-food calories. Both provide performance benefits and will keep you strong into the later stages of the race, so let's break down each individually.

#1. LIQUID CALORIES

When we say 'liquid calories, ' we're referring to a drink mix powder that supplies calories in carbohydrates. Sally uses BPN G.1.M Sport as her primary fuel source for training and race day to provide sustained energy without unnecessary blood sugar spikes.

Fuel properly for your ultramarathon by finding a supplement that provides a quality source of calories from carbohydrates, along with sodium and other electrolytes, to replenish what is lost from sweat. Consider these three questions when deciding on your primary source of liquid calories:

  1. Does it use a high-quality source of carbohydrates (not just another cheap form of sugar)?
  2. Is it formulated with a full-electrolyte profile?
  3. Can you digest it easily?

Sally thrives on G.1.M Sport thanks to its primary ingredient, Cluster Dextrin®. We consider this a superior carbohydrate source because of its ability to be fast-gastric emptying, which makes it more readily available for your body to use as energy without the all-too-common stomach discomfort and bloating.

G.1.M Sport offers 80 calories with 20 grams of carbohydrates in each scoop, in combination with 350mg of sodium, and a full-electrolyte profile from Pink Himalayan Salt and TRAACS® minerals.

Sally knows that the most accessible and easy-to-digest calories come from liquids. By incorporating a dependable liquid fuel source as part of your nutrition plan, you can be sure that your body will have what it needs to keep going.

Sally McRae using BPN supplements for her race.

#2. WHOLE-FOOD NUTRITION

Ultramarathons demand hours upon hours of energy expenditure, and unlike shorter races, the finish line may not be in sight for some time. This unique challenge should make you consider how whole food can support your performance (beyond the typical gel).

Two factors influence whether you should use a specific food during your race.

  1. Digestibility – The food shouldn't sit too heavy or give you any unneeded digestive discomfort. If it does, you should search for different kinds of fuel sources.
  2. Useability – You should notice an energy boost shortly after eating the food (typically within 30-45 minutes). Any foods you choose should provide calories that push you forward, not hold you back.

Sally has a short list of staple foods that work well for her body and can be easily implemented throughout any demanding race. She has selected these foods through trial and error and uses her experience to help inform strategy. If you are new to ultramarathoning, practice fueling with whole foods in your training so that when race day comes, you know what works for you and what doesn't. The golden rule here is to never try anything new on race day.

A few of Sally's favorite ultramarathon foods include:

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Almond or peanut butter
  • BPN Field Bar

Everything she consumes must be made from simple ingredients. Sally knows that these foods will digest easily and further her performance when she needs the extra boost. Each food on the above list can be grabbed and stored easily so you can fuel quickly.

Options like a banana provide the body with additional carbohydrates (on top of consumed liquid calories), while avocado and nut butter fuel the longer-lasting energy of healthy fats. For the combination of carbohydrates, fats, and protein, the Field Bar comprises simple ingredients you know and trust. Sally always has a Field Bar in her pack; from training in the mountains to racing any terrain, the Field Bar is made for those on the go.

HYDRATION

Dehydration is the fastest limiting factor for you as an ultra-endurance athlete. Like nutrition, hydration needs should be addressed proactively (before issues arise) instead of reactively (in response).

Sally has overcome some of the world's hottest ultramarathon conditions, like Badwater 135, by staying on top of her water intake and electrolyte balance. Here are a few key tips for continued hydration, regardless of the conditions:

  • Consume an electrolytes drink mix and water to replace what is lost in sweat.
  • Avoid over-consuming plain water, as this can flush out electrolytes in your body.
  • Create a plan for how much water and scoops of electrolytes powder you will use throughout the race, and if you need, set reminders to ensure that you drink regularly.

When looking for an electrolytes supplement, choose one that features a complete profile of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium). Each of these electrolytes can be essential in how you feel and perform. Sally's electrolytes powder of choice offers 500mg of sodium, a properly balanced electrolyte profile, and is offered in 3 great sugar-free, naturally flavored options (salted watermelon, strawberry, and lemon-lime).

BPN Electrolytes mix perfectly with our superior carbohydrate powder, G.1.M Sport. Sally combines one scoop of each in her bottles and sips throughout the race. This combination will get you through some of the most demanding conditions feeling strong and ready to overcome whatever the ultramarathon throws your way!

Woman running a race in the mountains

STICK TO THE PLAN

Like your training, building a nutrition plan that works can take time! It's why we work so hard to create products that work, so you can stop searching and, instead, keep performing! Once your fueling strategy is established, all that's left to do is finish the race.

Want to try the products that Sally uses for her ultramarathons? Shop G.1.M Sport, Electrolytes, and Field Bars now!