Running on Empty:
Training, Nutrition, and Hydration Above 10,000 Feet
With Leadville Trail 100 Run coming up this weekend, we sat down with Floyd’s of Leadville ambassador and veteran endurance runner Chris McGovern for a few hydration tips, as well as first time LT100 Trail Run competitor running ambassador Erin Laplander to get her take on the training, mindset, and goals for a 100 mile off road foot race.
Chris McGovern, Endurance Runner
Chris, you’ve run races in just about every condition and duration imaginable. What are a few hydration tips you’d give to to racers this weekend as they run 100 miles above 10,000 feet?
The old adage “drink to thirst” is very applicable in my opinion. But what you are drinking can make all the difference. I tend to drink water to thirst with Salt Stick and solid food for the first half of long races, then I switch to drinking my calories in the second half.
Do you eat as well?
If you are drinking a high calorie drink and eating food…it is likely you are going to have stomach issues. So If you choose to drink your calories, stay away or limit your solid food. General rule of thumb is 250-300 calories per hour.
When would you add in our Hydration Mix?
If you are eating your calories, I recommend sticking to water or low caloric, electrolyte drink mix. The sodium, potassium and magnesium are super important to your blood volume.
How does the altitude affect your performance?
Altitude complicates things if you are not accustomed. You are limited by not being adapted to there being less oxygen, but also your body is trying to make more red blood cells, which if I am not mistaken causes dehydration.
Sounds…painful. Any other words of wisdom?
Brown pee, not good. Clear pee, not good. Lemonade pee….just right.
Erin Laplander, Endurance Runner
Erin Laplander is from Perrinton, Michigan, a small town about an hour north of Lansing and currently resides in Grand Rapids; at sea level. A full 10,220 feet below Leadville. Why’s she up here in the mountains getting ready to suffer for 24+ hours?
Thanks for making the pilgrimage up here to Leadville HQ. This weekend is approaching quickly, are you ready? How have you been training?
Lots of mileage and as much vertical as I could get in Michigan. I did back to back long runs on my higher volume weeks, and one long run on my recovery weeks. Anytime I could run hills, I took the opportunity.
What made you decide to try your hand at the Leadville 100 Trail Run?
My boyfriend, Steve, was riding the Leadville Trail 100 MTB last weekend. After being in the race atmosphere, I decided that when the lottery opened, my name would be in the drawing. I did not get into the lottery, however, and I didn’t realize how much I had wanted in until I did not see my name. Fast forward to April. I was in Boston for the marathon, and I stopped by the Floyd’s of Leadville tent. I was introduced to Floyd himself, and when he found out I registered but wasn’t drawn, he told me he had an entry.
We’re really glad we could help you achieve this dream. Hopefully you won’t be cursing us at the finish. How long have you been running?
I was not always a runner. I played basketball through middle school and high school. I’m short and muscular, so middle-distance made the most sense for my build. Senior year I caved and ran track. I was not good whatsoever. Going into college I always said I would never race further than a 5k since, as a middle-distance runner, a 5k was too far. The summer before my junior year, I was scheduled to do a 13 mile run for cross country training but I decided to do a half marathon to get the credit. It was a smaller local race, but I ended up finishing second. When I called my coach, Rod, he informed me I was only about seven minutes off national qualifying time and we should talk about switching me to a long-distance runner. I ran my first marathon at the 2013 NAIA Outdoor National Championships Memorial Day weekend. It was also the first year I watched Boston. As we heard about the bombs I knew that one day, I wanted to go. I ran my first 50 miler in Wisconsin in 2015 but when I ran Dances with Dirt in 2015 I swore I would never run an ultra marathon again.
And yet here we are, at one of the toughest ultra marathons around. Do you have a goal in mind for your race this weekend?
Obviously to finish! Being my first hundred miler, I don’t want to be too ambitious, but even still, I feel pretty confident. Ideally I’d like to be in the 27-28 hour range.
That’s over an entire day of running! How do you fuel for something this big?
My basic plan is to eat every half hour on the trail. I have a combination of Cliff Bars, fruit bars, Larabars, Stroop Waffles, and SIS gels. I also have salt tabs for cramping. I’m also bringing some Floyd’s Gems to take on the go to help reduce some of that inflammation. However, if anybody else has some recommendations I’m all ears!
So your keeping an open mind, we like that! If any readers have any suggestions maybe they can shoot you some tips on your IG account @happy_athlete_erin or at the very least cheer you on digitally. And lastly, speaking of inflammation, what are your favorite CBD products?
I didn’t know much about Floyd’s until Boston [this April] but I can say with 100% certainty that these products work well! I LOVE the protein powder and the Transdermal Cream. I’ve also used the lavender balm for my wrists and forearms. I’m a massage therapist, so when I have a long day of clients, that’s my go to. I take the soft gels from time to time, but probably not as often as I should be taking them!
Thanks Erin! We’re glad we found you at Boston and helped to play a small role in getting you up here to Cloud City, USA. You’ve done all the heavy lifting and we can’t wait to hear how things go for you. Best of luck! Just a friendly reminder to our readers to stop by our tent at events, drop us a note, or reach out on social media (Instagram | Twitter) because you never know what Floyd’s can do for you.