Prior to starting, Tommy and I had a food plan which we based on what I ate during training. Our thought process was focus on fatty and carb calorie dense foods during the day and prioritise veggies in the evenings.
Below is the list of my “go to” foods:
· Breaky: Eggs, bacon and avocado with bagel. COFFEE!!
· Lunch: Peanut butter and jam sandwiches, ham and cheese croissants
· Dinner: Spag bolognaise or risotto with veggies.
· Snacks: Clif Bar and Bloks, bananas, chips, nuts, lollies, cheese, salami.
Unfortunately, we discovered this went completely out the window once I started. I could not stand the sight of eggs. I went completely off coffee, tomatoes and bananas. I found meat hard to stomach with the exception of salami and sausages. I developed a huge craving for oranges and pineapple - they were pretty much the only fruit I ate the entire trip. So, we had to pivot.
We went to the “eat whatever the hell you feel like” diet which was based on my cravings and whatever I could stomach. We cared only about calories and didn’t care where they came from. Normal diet principles didn’t apply.
So my diet changed dramatically. Below is what I ate every pretty much every single day. I could get it down and didn’t feel like I was running out of energy. I also started to view food as fuel – not something I needed to enjoy. Just something I needed to get down and as much as I possibly could.
· Breaky: Porridge with sultanas and cream; a tiny sip of coffee
· Lunch: Peanut butter, honey & butter rolls with LOTS of butter; 2-minute noodles
· Dinner: Pasta, rice or noodles with veggies, bangers and mash. Always followed by a block of chocolate.
· Snacks: Clif Bars and Bloks, chips, cookies, bowls of rice bubbles and nutri-grain, chocolate.
I also made sure I enjoyed the odd beer or glass of wine in the evening with Tommy. This was purely to allow myself to relax. I found that if I had an enjoyable, chilled evening, I would go into the next day in a much more positive mindset and run better.
Minimising weight loss
I knew I was going to lose weight as there is no way I could eat enough calories to match what I was burning. Knowing this, I actually put on a little bit of weight before the trip.
It was Day 15 when Tommy and I suddenly noticed I was getting skinny. It wasn’t a huge shock, especially since I had really struggled to eat in week 1 due to anxiety. But we knew keeping weight loss to a minimum was going to be key to my success so we made a couple of calorie enhancing changes.
For example, we swapped milk for cream. I would generally have 2-3 bowls of cereal a day which became very calorie dense when swimming in cream. A nice little addition of approx. 500+ calories a day.
I also took to eating entire blocks of Whittakers for dessert – another 1000+ calories!
I have to admit, I also smashed Maccas a couple of times – Quarter pounder, nuggets, fries, chocolate thick shake and a large sundae! Good way to get a big calorie boost!
The result? I was able to maintain my weight for the rest of the North Island and actually put on a bit of weight in the South. This is likely due to the fact I was doing more hiking, as opposed to running, in the South compared to the North.
We didn’t actively monitor my hydration but did implement steps to make sure I wasn’t getting dehydrated.
- I ALWAYS fill up my bladder at every opportunity, regardless of how full it was. Sometimes the opportunities to fill up were few and far between, and I didn’t want to get caught without water.
- If I was able to get back to the van during the day, I often drank coke. I'm sure lots of ultra runners would agree that there is nothing better than a cold coke on a hot day!!
- Chocolate milk at the end of the day which helps with hydration but also provides carbs, proteins, fats and electrolytes.
- Sipping on an electrolyte drink in the evening.
I typically drank around 4 litres a day but on hot days, this increased to 6+ litres.
How did I fare?
I never weighed myself during the trip because I didn’t want to stress myself out. But we think that I ended up around 4-5 kilos lighter than I started. Given I spent 66 days running over a marathon a day, I think this is pretty remarkable and is a big reason why I didn’t get any injuries.