Here is Dave’s fourth installment in the series: Nutrition —
I hope your training is going well. We are now just 3 weeks out!
This week we are trying to survive the actual march. The march will take a lot out of us but we can fight back by being smart about how we fuel our bodies. Everyone has their own needs so take ownership of your needs and come up with a plan that works for you.
Rule 1: Train as you fight
Trying something new on race day is poor risk management. It might work for you, or you might end up doubled over with cramps or in the woods with GI “distress”. I strongly recommend trying out whatever you plan to consume on the march on one of your training hikes.
The course will have water/food stations every couple of miles. I plan to use these stations to refill on water at miles 10 and 20 when we take our breaks. Other than that, I plan to carry everything else I consume – see Rule 1. Last year the stations had Gatorade and fruit and some other stuff so you are not completely on your own. It’s up to you to make your own risk assessment on what to carry and what to get from the course.
It will be warm to hot to very hot and over 9 hours staying hydrated will be difficult. Given our workload, the Army recommends 1 quart per hour. This is an insane amount of liquid; over 1 cup per mile but remember thirst is not a good indicator of your water needs. We have to force ourselves to drink when we don’t want to. I plan to carry over 2000ml = 8c and consume that over 10 miles. If it’s hot I’ll need every bit of it. I’ve found I need at least ½c of liquid per mile. A large Nalgene bottle is 32oz = 4c so I need 1.5 to 2 bottles per 10 miles. Again, I’m large so you may need less.
In general, you want to drink before you need it. Don’t fall behind on consumption and try to catch up. Pre hydrate – drink a lot the day before and the morning of.
On a hike this long, water won’t be enough for most people. Some type of sports drink is a very good idea. I use GU Brew. I add 2 scoops to 1000-1500ml (2 scoops to 32oz plus ice).
I perform better if I have a bit of energy bar (carbs) every mile or 2. I eat 1 bar over the course of 10 mi. I drink water with each bite, which is why I carry 2 bladders, 1 with roughly 700ml of water and the other with around 1300ml of GU.
At each 10mi break I drink 1 scoop + 16 oz. of water. I immediately feel better while I’m drinking it. If you go this route I strongly recommend trying it on a training hike. Yes, it is very sweet. Very. I did not say it “tastes good.” Nor do I claim it is necessarily “fit for human consumption.” But, it works wonders for me.
I’ll eat a BP&J sandwich at each 10mi break. According to the internets, I’ll burn 5500-7000 cal on the hike so even with 2 bars, 2 drinks, and 2 sandwiches I won’t come close to replacing what I burn.
This is not medical advice. Understand and know the risks. I take 3 Advil before the start and 3 more at each break. And yeah, I’ll take more that night.
Caffeine has been shown to improve endurance performance. Caffeine is also a diuretic, which makes it harder to stay hydrated. Caffeine, or at least coffee, also acts as a laxative for some people. Know what you are doing here. I may have a cup of coffee in the morning but I don’t use caffeine while hiking.
Vitamins and Minerals
Not really on the march nutrition but a part of our training program so worth mentioning. There’s not a lot of good evidence supporting the use of multi vitamins. Send all hate mail to Wes. Vitamins D and E probably have a place (I take both) but that’s about it. However, there is good evidence that minerals can be beneficial and that many athletes are deficient. Zinc and magnesium are the big ones. I take a mineral supplement. Fair warning: the dosage on this brand is 7 capsules per day. They are not small capsules.
Keep training and stay healthy!
PS: You are on reading this for the following reasons:
After serving as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Dr. Gray earned an MBA and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago where he studied under Nobel Prize Winner Eugene Fama. Next, Wes took an academic job in his wife’s hometown of Philadelphia and worked as a finance professor at Drexel University. Dr. Gray’s interest in bridging the research gap between academia and industry led him to found Alpha Architect, an asset management firm dedicated to an impact mission of empowering investors through education. He is a contributor to multiple industry publications and regularly speaks to professional investor groups across the country. Wes has published multiple academic papers and four books, including Embedded (Naval Institute Press, 2009), Quantitative Value (Wiley, 2012), DIY Financial Advisor (Wiley, 2015), and Quantitative Momentum (Wiley, 2016).
Dr. Gray currently resides in Palmas Del Mar Puerto Rico with his wife and three children. He recently finished the Leadville 100 ultramarathon race and promises to make better life decisions in the future.
Performance figures contained herein are hypothetical, unaudited and prepared by Alpha Architect, LLC; hypothetical results are intended for illustrative purposes only. Past performance is not indicative of future results, which may vary. There is a risk of substantial loss associated with trading stocks, commodities, futures, options and other financial instruments. Full disclosures here.