Since Al asked about my take on Hammer Nutrition products, I thought I’d write a post rather than just add a comment because I have a lot to say about their products. I’m sponsored by them although it’s a discount, not cash or free product, so if I didn’t like their products it wouldn’t do me any good. If you’ve never ordered from them before, you can get 15% off your first order by following this link. They have a Yahoo group where even the owner will answer questions. Steve Born that has finished RAAM more than once and done things like start at the finish line of the Furnace Creek 508 and ride to the start to do the race has been a big help for me to get my nutrition dialed in for long races. Last year I was really out of shape for the Adirondack 540 and I had to call him the day before the race to be convinced I could do the race.
The best way to explain my take on the products is to tell my experience when I first did Montezuma’s Revenge in 1998. It was my second 24 hour mountain bike race. I was sick when I first did the 24 Hours of Moab and spent 7 hours off the bike but was so congested I couldn’t lie down without starting to choke.
I had tried Sustained Energy during training but had trouble with bloating and gas so I had given up on it. I now know that because it doesn’t have any preservatives it goes bad in about 3 hours in the hot sun and that is what was causing my problems. They actually say it should last a little longer but 3 hours has been my experience. I ended up solving that problem by mixing my 2nd bottle the night before and freezing it. That was back before they had Perpetuem and HEED which take a lot longer to go bad. I had gone back to using CytoMax and GU. I got about 8 hours into Montezuma’s Revenge and got so sick to my stomach I didn’t feel like eating plus I was peeing like crazy but at the same time feeling really dehydrated. I got up on Gray’s Peak above 13,000 feet and was stumbling and falling asleep as I tried hiking with my bike on my back.
After that miserable race, I decided to give Sustained Energy another try along with some Hammer Gel. I used them at the 24 Hours of Moab along with solid food and did much better although still had some stomach problems. Dr. Bill that has had a huge part in developing the Hammer Nutrition products finally convinced me that for 24 hours I was best off without solid foods. The first time I tried without solid food I had plenty of solid foods available and ended up not using any and didn’t have any stomach problems. I now pretty much just use their products except I’ve eaten a small amount of solid foods in my RAAM qualifiers. When I did the Furnace Creek 508 in 2002, I had 36 servings of Sustained Energy and less than a 1,000 calories from other foods.
Now they have more choices in fuels and I mix them depending on what I’m doing. For short, hard group rides I use HEED and some Hammer Gel. When they first came out with HEED, they just had the Lemon-Lime flavor and I didn’t like it but I’ve come to really like the Mandarin Orange. For 2-3 hour mountain bike races, I use Sustained Energy with a couple scoops of the powdered Endurolytes added in plus I use a coin purse to carry more Endurolytes. For 100 mile mountain bike races I mix Sustained Energy and Perpetuem half and half along with some powdered Endurolytes. When I’m going hard I seem to have some problems digesting straight Perpetuem and that’s why I mix it with the Sustained Energy.
In 24 hour mountain bike events and RAAM qualifiers I use mainly Perpetuem but use a little of the other fuels for variety. I always have plain water with me so I can drink what I need independent of the calories I’m getting plus it helps to not have any taste in my mouth. Even under ideal conditions, I have trouble digesting much over 250 calories and hour and try not to go over 28 ounces of fluid an hour. Eating or drinking stuff with simple sugars while using the Hammer fuels is a sure way to bonk. I found this out the hard way doing the Vail Ultra 100. Julie offered a couple bite sized Snickers bars at one of the aid stations and within 20 minutes I was severely bonking and sat at the next aid station for an hour wrapped in blankets and shivering.
If I’m doing an early morning race, I sleep as late as possible and don’t eat anything until I’m on the bike. The first few times I didn’t eat before I felt really hungry and thought for sure I’d bonk but my stomach felt better early in the race than if I had eaten and I didn’t bonk. I do find I have to start eating sooner but my stomach feels fine. If I ate too close to the start, I’d find my stomach didn’t feel the best and it would be an hour or so before I could start eating.
Lately on my long training rides I’ve been mixing one bottle with 4 scoops HEED and 2 scoops plain Perpetuem and another bottle with 1 scoop HEED and 5 scoops Dreamsicle Perpetuem and 3 scoops powdered Endurolytes in each bottle. For performance I’d probably be better off using more Perpetuem but I like the variety of flavors.
For races and rides under 3 hours, I take 1 Race Cap Supreme, 1 Mito-R-Cap, and 4 Anti-Fatigue Caps an hour before the start and then just Endurolytes during the race or ride. I longer races and rides I take the same thing before the start and then starting 2 hours in I take the same thing every hour except drop the Anti-Fatigue Caps to 2 and take 2-3 Endurolytes. I always have more Endurolytes so I can take more if I need them to keep from cramping. The Anti-Fatigue Caps really help keep me from smelling like ammonia. Before I started using them I used to stink of ammonia by the time I’d get 6 hours into a race. For during races and rides, I use the little baggies to but in an hour worth of pills so I can just grab one out of my pocket and dump everything into my month. I can really tell I don’t fatigue as fast and recover faster if I take the supplements. During training I generally open the bag and squeeze from the sides on the zip section to open it wide so I can reuse it but during races I generally tear the top off. If I have a crew with me, I use empty canisters that film come in and have them hand it to me. Now that I’m using a digital camera I have to make sure I don’t lose the ones I have.
After hard rides, I generally have 2 or 3 scoops of Recoverite and then a little while later I mix a bottle of 2 scoops of Recoverite and 1 of Whey Protein. I also take Super AO and Tissue Rejuvenator.
Update: See what I did for nutrition during my 2006 solo RAAM attempt.