"Last year, I walked at Oxfam Trailwalker for the first time. Not knowing what to expect, me and my team were in unchartered territory, and by the end of it, we didn’t have enough words to describe the whole experience." Vaisshali Sreekumaarh writes.
Oxfam Trailwalker 2018-19 was Vaisshali's first stint at the event. It was a learning experience and below she pens down what she learnt and the suggestions she has for the new Trailwalkers!
But one thing that is undisputable is that it requires you to prepare well. Based on my experience, I am summarizing below some important points which will help new walkers to maintain optimum health and stamina.
Eating more carbohydrates helps muscle store more glycogen. If more glycogen is stored in the body it will take longer to deplete the body’s preferred energy source during a prolonged physical event. In order to do a successful carb reload, you will need to taper the duration of the practice which is a must. Gaining a few kilos as a part of carb reload is normal as carbohydrates require water for storage.
Managing the carbohydrate balance by consuming foods with right glycemic index is important – as not all carbs are the same. High glycemic index foods break down rapidly causing a large glucose spike – examples are white rice, white bread, corn flakes, dried fruits, roti, idlis, dosas, chicken, peanut butter. Increase the intake of these foods by 10-12 grams per kg of your body weight starting immediately.
Bananas are good to replenish glucose levels quickly as these are rapidly absorbed in the body and quickly release sugar in the bloodstream. Before you start walking – 60 minutes prior, have bananas to kick start your metabolism in the morning and then follow up with a serving of this fruit at a gap of 2 to 3 hours.
Start consuming more fresh fruit juices as compared to full fruit as high fiber content in the food tends to hinder the absorption of carbohydrates.
Do not eat deep fried food or processed food from now until the completion of the event – as too much saturated fat makes the body acidic which hinders oxygen supply to the cells and may cause early fatigue to set in.
WATER AND FLUID INTAKE:
Start with drinking 500-600ml of water 1-2 hours prior to walk to ensure good hydration status. Please note not drinking enough water and drinking too much water – both are dangerous. Water consumption needs to be effectively spaced out and well managed.
Consume sugarcane juice / coconut water when you stop at checkpoints – this is to balance glycogen and prevent fatigue, dehydration and hypoglycemia. You need to ensure the sodium and the chlorine balance of the body is well maintained – add electrolytes to your water and keep taking small sips as you walk.
100KM, NO JOKE:
When physical exercise lasts longer than an hour, blood glucose levels begin to dwindle and after a maximum of 3 hours, muscle glycogen storage depletion sets in. If no glucose is consumed the levels continue to drop further and fatigue sets in.
Especially for those walking 100kms – when you break for the next day – your diet has to be spiked with 80% carbs and 10% proteins. Proteins do not play as big a role as carbohydrates during the walk, but are required to repair the muscle proteins and muscle breakdown from day 1 activity. Consuming curd and lentils along with rice will greatly help.
It takes at least 4 hours for the body to digest and breakdown the food consumed. Since we are starting early in the morning – the dinner from now onwards till the event should be to eat carbohydrate rich food before going to bed. This can be followed by simple light weight walking in the morning (NOT STRENEOUS LONG SESSIONS).
You must try to have the snacks or fruits as discussed above from now (if not done so) to optimize your performance.
Maximize glucose availability and select foods low in fat and fiber to minimize gastrointestinal distress. This is to ensure the food you consume is well tolerated by your body.
Carbohydrates consumed will be more effective if 30-60 gms per hour are consumed in small amounts at 15-30 min intervals rather than as large meals after 2 to 4 hour. Dates and dry fruits can greatly help here.
STRATEGIC REFUELING FOR DAY 2:
After your day 1 activity is complete, if you are walking the 100km, try and eat a high carb snack after 30 minutes of rest and have a fully loaded meal within the next 2 hours. Ensure you have a protein along with carbs. Yoghurt is recommended. This is a part of strategic refuelling.
Last but not the least and very important is be happy and peaceful and enjoy the event. Be one with nature. It’s the best spiritual remedy.
POST WALKATHON TIPS:
In first several minutes – have Gatorade or any other sports drink if possible and a medium banana. After cooling down and when the body is back in resting state, have orange juice and some dates and raisins.This can be followed by a meal after 30 minutes.
Please remember do not consume too much water directly after the event instead focus on maintaining the sodium and potassium levels through regular small sips.
- Get acclimatized to heat – it will be hot during the day
- Stay hydrated
- Avoid overnutrition and high fibre and high fat diet before the event
- Limit the intake of anti-inflammatory drugs, alcohol, caffeine, or antibiotics as they can cause gastro discomfort.
Stay healthy! Be happy! Be connected! One of the best moments to be with nature!