Fuel in the tank

Matt Griffiths
Wednesday, 15 August, 2012


I have always had a big appetite. I was that skinny lad, the roadrunner who never seemed to put on weight. I would eat anything that wasn’t tied down. I’ve explored the natural world over the years, and consumed it. Plants, animals and even insects have disappeared into my inner cauldron and my body has eagerly processed such things as locusts, Chinese jellyfish soup (decorated with cod lips!), African meat broths and even cat food! There was a period when I considered there may be a Tapeworm, neatly coiled inside me. Our symbiotic relationship meant shared meals. He may have even been a fussy eater or a vegan, spitting out the bits he didn’t like.  

Eating to run

  Fast forward over 30 years and I still have a large and adventurous compunction to devour things. I never had a tapeworm. In my youth I had a highly charged metabolism and, as I got older, I replaced it with a tapeworm called running. Running means I don’t feel guilty when I eat, but I do feel guilty when I don’t eat. I feel guilty when I have been running for 2 hours and my tank is empty, apart from a few unlucky flies, and I have to endure that heavy sickening lethargy as my energy dries up. The Gatorade team at the training day explained the importance of good nutrition – before, during and after. To complete this Ultra (on two legs, rather than an exhausted crawl!), I will have to find the food that works for me.  

Eating on the run

  One of my daily meals will have to be on the run. It was breakfast time in New York but, 5 hrs to the East, it was Lunchtime in Twickenham. My body just needed food. It would not be getting a Manhattan plate of pancakes, stacked a foot high, with maple syrup drizzled on top, but a 2hr 15min run round Manhattan with my breakfast in my pocket. In fact some of my breakfast started before the run with fruit and oatmeal.   matt-griffiths-blog The remainder of breakfast was spread around the compartments of my rucksack. I was experimenting with various foods but my favourites on this run would prove to be peanut butter filled pretzels and Swedish fish (a jelly like sweet that gives an instant boost!). Along with my gels I made a point of constantly nibbling. “Never Hungry, Never Full” is a mantra I’d heard on the training day. 2hrs and 15min later I finished my run and something felt different. I was tired but not exhausted. I had managed to preserve some of my glycogen by chucking fuel on the fire before it went out. A week later and, inspired by twittering ultra runners, I chopped up some Soreen fruit loaf and filled my pockets. Then I followed the Thames for 2hrs 30min (running that is, not in a canoe!) I ate my way through my run and have a new found love for Soreen. With my Kevlar lined stomach I am now chomping, chewing and slurping my way through my training schedule. I know it is working because when Nick sends me my running schedule, I start to drool.

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