Interview with Fueling Expert Steve Born

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Steve Born is a fueling expert at Hammer Nutrition. Steve is also an accomplished athlete holding two ultra marathon cycling records and has been inducted into the Ultra Marathon Cycling Hall of Fame.

We brought Steve on the podcast to help us unravel the mysteries of fueling for long distance running.

Ten Questions for Steve Born

1. How did you get started in endurance sports and what is your role at Hammer?

My sport was the financially lucrative (sarcasm) sport of ultra marathon bicycle racing. I did the Race Across America five times. I have spent so much money and made so many mistakes with fueling and I don’t want people to make the same mistakes. That’s pretty much why I have a job.

2. What is the toughest cycling challenge you have taken on?

In 2002 I had a wild idea of doing a back to back Furnace Creek 508 through Death Valley. I completed the record attempt and didn’t even have so much as a flat tire. A little whisper in my ear said, “You want to know what quitting while you’re ahead looks like –this is it.” So I finished that race and am still the only person to complete a double Furnace Creek 508. Now I enjoy life without it revolving around a bicycle.

3. What percentage of an athlete’s performance is related to their nutrition and fueling habits?

I would say at least a third. I have a little philosophy, in every sport you need the right equipment for the job, secondly you need an intelligent training program that incorporates rest, and thirdly, you need proper nutrition, fueling, and supplementation. If you are not putting the right fuel in the tank, you are not going to get the full value out of the time, energy, and money you spend on training.

4. Can you explain what constitutes the difference between fueling success and fueling failure?

I believe athletes either neglect fueling completely and just wing it, or they over-compensate and consume too much food, calories, liquid, and sodium. At Hammer we believe less is better.

5. In your experience, what is the #1 reason that runners experience GI distress?

Running is a digestively challenging type of exercise. I think the primary reason runners have GI distress is because they overdo their fueling. No matter how many calories you are losing your body can only accept 25-30% in fuel donation.

6. What are your best tips for avoiding “bonking” during a long run or race?

I’ll go out on a limb here. I believe that far too many athletes neglect post workout refueling. When you are consistent with post workout refueling your body rewards you by storing more minutes of a premium fuel called glycogen in the muscles.

7. What kind of post-run recovery plan should we be using?

The Godfather of recovery nutrition, Ed Burke, basically wrote the book on post workout refueling. He said, the sooner you refill the tank the better (30-60 minutes). Your body will respond by storing more glycogen for future workouts. To me that is the true meaning of carbo loading.

8. Do you think there is any value in increasing carbohydrate intake a couple days before your race?

I don’t think it’s wrong to alter the ratios of what you are consuming, but on the other hand, why deviate from what got you there in the first place? If you’re not fit a week before the race there is not a heck of a lot you can do, if anything, to become fitter in the days leading up to the race. The same is true with fueling.

9. What’s your favorite flavor that Hammer makes?

I go for about three weeks thinking, “Oh this flavor is the bomb. I could drink this all day long.” But then you just get tired of it and try something else. That’s why we make nine flavors of Hammer Gel.

10. I noticed at the end of my longer runs (15 miles and up) I’m gritty with salt even though I don’t feel thirsty. Would taking a little water at each stop prevent that?

Salt stains are to be expected to some degree. But my advice is to take a look at your diet. The body has a way of getting rid of excess salt during exercise. We all consume 3-4 times more sodium than we all need. The American Heart Association says 1,500 milligrams a day but every American is consuming somewhere in the realm of 8,000 milligrams a day. We are salting ourselves to death.

Quick Tip: Sustaining Energy in Long Runs and Races

Perpetuem is an endurance fuel designed for multi-hour events. It utilizes protein in the mixture so your body doesn’t have to start breaking down its muscle tissue. You can use it as your sole fuel source and it will provide you with steady energy without GI distress.

Click the link below to get %15 off your first order.

I used Perpetuem in my latest marathon and had great energy all the way to the finish line. It felt a little weird getting to the starting line with an empty stomach.  About 5 minutes before the start I had a Hammer gel and carried gels and Perpetuem solids with me.  I had great steady energy and was very happy with my new fueling plan.

9 Responses to Interview with Fueling Expert Steve Born

  1. Trevor October 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    2 more days until my first marathon. I’m eating strawberry Perpetuem all the way to mile 26 baby!

  2. Kush October 23, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Thanks to Angie, Trevor and Steve for a wonderful session. Potentially very helpful information! I say potentially because although Steve went over some of the Hammer Nutrition products (and I must confess I listened to the podcast two times and also went over the test on the MTA web site) I’m still uncertain how to get started! Here’s my issue:

    I’m 5’7″ tall, male, weigh 148lbs and I am a regular meditator. I have lost 20 lbs in little over a year with change in my eating habits and regular running. I also have higher than normal blood glucose levels; my family gift which I’m determined to give back. Hopefully my lifestyle change will make that a reality in the near future.

    1. How do I get started with the nutrition products?
    I need to setup a plan of action. Maybe Hammer Nutrition has a beginners plan or a sample I and many other like me can use to get started.

    2. With my elevated blood glucose levels, I can’t indiscriminately eat or drink high caloric foods or drinks. I can’t seem to find helpful information on how I can start using fueling and recovery products. Can you point me to the right direction?

    Thanks and once again thanks you and keep up the good work.

    P.S. Trevor by now you must have completed your first Marathon. Kudos to you my friend…

    • Angie October 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

      Hi Kush. I’m glad that you enjoyed the podcast. You have been making some wonderful changes in your heath and I’m glad that you’re concerned with using fueling/recovery products wisely. I think that Hammer Nutrition’s products would be a good fit for you even with the high blood sugar issues. They avoid the use of simple sugars in their products so that the blood sugar doesn’t do the “roller coaster” effect. Their philosphy of “less is more” with fueling is also good when a person needs to be careful about not taking in too many carbs. I’d encourage you to visit the website and then either call or email customer service to get their recommendations. They do offer samples of the products too. Check out:

  3. Kush October 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Thanks for you response Angie. You are always generous with your inputs.

    I revisited the Hammer web site and have been reading up some of the articles and guides. Lots of info there! I was getting ready to order some samples the day I listened to your podcast but wanted to wait for some helpful tips on the subject. I’m going to order some now, try them and see if I can notice some improvements.

    Waiting to hear all about Trevor’s marathon experience! Best wishes to both of you.

    • Angie October 29, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

      I think that you’ll have a great experience with the Hammer products. Trevor and I will be recording a race recap soon. Happy running!

  4. Trevor C October 31, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Found some Hammer products at my local Running Room here in Canada.

    Once I am done with my current stash of GU I will give them a test drive.

    • Angie October 31, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

      Sounds great Trevor. I think that you’ll notice a positive difference in your energy levels. Hammer Perpetuem is my go-to product right now.

  5. Kush November 4, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Thanks Angie for you suggestion. I ordered several samples from Hammer on the 27th after your response. They have arrived! In fact Hammer threw in several other samples I did not even order. Now I’ll need to go for a very long run and work my butt off to deplete the glycogen so that I’ll deserve them!

    • Angie November 7, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

      Sounds great! Happy running and fueling.

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