Tara's headline numbers
Carbohydrate is the main fuel you burn when racing. Failing to fuel properly is a leading cause of underperformance in longer races.
Having used 21 different items to fuel her previous ultramarathon in Andorra, Tara streamlined her plan to less than 10 items for the CCC but relied on energy products like gels and chews, as well as using some of her preferred ‘real foods’ to ward off flavour fatigue. Chris and Rachael from the PF&H team crewed Tara throughout the race, which meant they could provide her with advice about her fuel strategy throughout, and help her adhere to the plan, especially when her focus started to drop as tiredness became more of a factor late into the race.
Taking on board an appropriate amount of fluid and sodium is essential to maintaining blood volume and supporting the cardiovascular effort needed to perform on race day.
Whilst the absolute amount of sodium and fluid consumed per hour is important, it’s critical to consider these in relation to each other. This is known as 'relative sodium concentration' and it’s expressed in milligrams per litre (mg/L). How much sodium you’re taking in per litre of fluid is more important than the absolute amount taken in per hour.
Sweat sodium concentration (mg/L) is largely genetically determined and remains relatively stable. Knowing how salty your sweat is enables you to replace a good proportion of your sweat losses, which can range from 200-2,000mg/L.
Whilst Tara’s losses are on the low side, getting her hydration strategy right is still crucial when it’s hot and/or humid as her higher sweat rate in these conditions can result in significant net losses over the duration of a race.Learn more
As temperatures were high, particularly in the middle of the day, Tara mostly drank PH 1000 from her Soft Flasks to slightly “oversalt” her drinks compared to her sweat sodium concentration of 716mg/L. This was to ensure she replaced a high proportion of her electrolyte losses, whilst also avoiding the excessive peeing she experienced in her last race, by encouraging a little more fluid retention. On one occasion, where she wouldn’t have crew access for nearly 3 hours, she chose to fill her Soft Flasks with PH 1500 instead, as she knew there were some plain water stations along the route where she could dilute this higher concentration back down.
Beyond the Three Levers of Performance (carb, sodium and fluid), caffeine is one of only a few substances that is proven to improve performance for most endurance athletes as it can help stave off mental and physical fatigue.
Tara discussed her caffeine plan with the Sports Science team at PF&H, and decided to delay her caffeine intake until ~9 hours into the race when the sun began to set. She really noticed the perceived benefits at this point as it helped her fight against her natural circadian rhythm which was trying to shut her muscles down and encourage her to sleep. This worked well as she felt significantly better than at the same point of her previous 100km race, so is a strategy she’ll use again in future ultras.
How Tara hit her numbers
Here's everything that Tara ate and drank on the day...
Tara's weapons of choice
Tara's full stats
There is good confidence in the accuracy of the data reported. An athlete feels that the numbers closely reflect what they consumed despite a couple of estimations which may carry some degree of error. The majority of what was consumed is recorded to a high level of specificity (most volumes are known through the use of bottles brands quantities flavours). The numbers are very plausible and align with previous data recordings (if an athlete has collected data previously).