Right energy for 220 km

If you’re about to ski for 220 km then it’s important to constantly fill up with energy along the way. Here are some tips on how to think in terms of drinking and eating.

Text: Erik Wickström

The shorter the race the higher the intensity you can keep up. For elite skiers, that ski Vasaloppet in around four hours, sport drink and maybe some additional liquid energy sources such as gels or other high-energy liquids will do it.

As race time goes up and intensity sinks, it becomes easier for the stomach to handle solid food – for races that take ten hours or more to complete, this is often the way to go. Amongst other advantages, it will help you to keep the feeling of hunger away. Many can feel hungry during long competitions. Those hunger feelings usually don’t pop up as long as you lie on a high intensity. That’s not the case for long competitions with less intensity.

Cashew nuts and chocolate cake

Before I skied for 24 hours last spring, I tried to read a lot about energy intake during really long competitions. As it wasn’t easy for me to find any scientific articles about the topic, I had to rely on stories from people who have been successful in such long time spans.

I read that Rune Larsson, Swedish record holder in running for 24 hours, hade eaten cheese sandwiches during an ultra competition. That sounded good so I did the same. I also ate cashew nuts, as they’re high in energy. Beyond sports nutrition I ate chocolate cake throughout the day too.

Caffeine can improve your performance during the whole race. Many make the mistake to only consume caffeine towards the end. Just make sure not too overdose, you might get shaky otherwise.

Pick your hydration system carefully

Energy intake is very individual in terms of amounts, rhythm and products. Test a set-up that works for you well in time. Another challenge at Nordenskiöldsloppet is to carry energy along. Of course there are good energy stations along the track but you might want to drink or eat something in between too.

There are different kinds of hydration systems on the market. The best solution for some might be to ski with a belt that can hold a water bottle (which you can fill up again along the way) and that comes with a small bag for other things too. If you want to drink more and even take some additional clothes with you, a small backpack with a water reservoir might suit you.

If you believe that two liters will be enough for you besides what you get at organizer’s control points, one of these rather new hydration systems with a tube from the waist to the mouth might be a good alternative. Make sure to use an isolated tube so your beverage stays warm as long as possible.

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When the Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet returned for the first time in modern time in 2016, it was difficult to know how much the starting participants were going to eat and drink along the way. This is however the amounts that stood ready on all energy stations combined.

  • 3000 liter sports drink
  • 1500 liter water
  • 800 liter Red Bull
  • 300 liter coffee
  • 1200 liter blueberry soup
  • 1000 liter soup/bouillon
  • 5000 bananas
  • 1200 oranges
  • 3800 buns
  • 2800 cheese sandwiches (70 kg cheese, 70 kg butter)
  • 4000 energy bars
  • 4000 energy gels
  • 100 gluten-free bars