Fuel for getting fired up!

Fuel for getting fired up!

Words:

Eoin Keith

Photos:

Greg Byrne

Tags:

"Art O'Neill", "Eoin Keith", food, "ultra running", ultra-running

Ultra-runner Eoin Keith tells us what he gets down the hatch before he races.


Eoin Keith’s first ultra run was a 50km race over the Wicklow hills in the late 90s. Since then he has gone from strength to strength in both ultra and adventure racing events. This year alone, Eoin (44) finished second in the Across the Years 72-hour ultra running race in Phoenix Arizona, breaking both the Irish 48-hour (343km) and 72-hour (300.2miles) road records. Two weeks later he won the Art O'Neill Ultra for the fourth consecutive time, keeping his 100% record for the race. Eoin currently also holds the Irish records for 24-hour track running (235km). As for adventure racing, his highlights include Primal Quests Utah (2006) and South Dakota (2008), the world championships in Scotland, Spain, Tasmania and France, and finishing second in the Turas, a five-day international race in Cork/Kerry. Eoin is most at home running in the mountains and is an active member of the Irish Mountain Running Association. Here he tells us what he gets down the hatch before he races. 

As for what I eat during an event, the short answer to this is as little as possible.
 
For the Across the Years event I managed to eat pretty much my optimum pre-race meal. In a local steakhouse, I shared a buffalo wings starter, and followed that with a large filet mignon steak accompanied by sweet potato fries and green vegetables. The only thing I would have changed was sweet potato mash rather than fries, which was exactly what I had as my post-race recovery meal. It all tasted great, and was good for both the soul and body.
 
Before the Art O'Neill I didn't make any variations from my normal Friday routine. I partook in a workplace tradition and had a Japanese beef curry for lunch. In the evening I had a toasted sandwich. No carbo-loading, no over-eating!
 
Over the years through my experience of racing ultra distance and multi-day adventure races I have found that conventional nutritional theory was just plain wrong. It could never account for how little food I needed to eat for the amount of energy I was burning. However, the latest more advanced nutritional theory, with its emphasis on depleted training, eating real non-processed foods, and using a more protein (paleo) oriented approach to teach the body to adapt to burn fat rather than sugars (carbs) squares up much better with my experience through the years.
 
As for what I eat during an event, the short answer to this is as little as possible. If you are properly trained and adapted to burn fat for your energy source then you can go a long way without requiring any food. For the Art O'Neill I didn't eat anything and drank a few sips of water about four hours in. Even for Across the Years, the total amount of food I ate would probably only add up to significantly less than the amount I’d eat during a normal non-racing 72-hour period (half at a guess). None of this food would have been gels or power bars. It was mostly fruit and various hot treats (such as lasagne, pork burritos and pancakes) provided by the race. I mostly drank fruit juices and smoothies, protein drinks, Coke, the occasional hot chocolate at night and a McDonald’s milkshake!
 
 

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Fuel for getting fired up!

Ultra-runner Eoin Keith tells us what he gets down the hatch before he races.

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