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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.