The Devil’s In The Details

WPut your GU Gels into a Salomon Soft Flaske have covered most of the important parts of the nutritional equation, so we have decided to provide you with some GU trail running tips for the Otter courtesy of our GU Crew and athletes. There is no substitute for experience!

The weather on the coast at the Otter is never very predictable, so in case of a cold snap, GU Crew Member Gary Muller advises that “if it’s cold, I take a GU Energy Gel every 35 minutes instead of every 45 minutes, as your body burns more calories than normal trying to keep your core temperature up.”

Muller also says that “if I can feel my body starting to take strain, I usually take 2 GU Energy Gels together to give me an extra energy boost”, GUd advice for those last few climbs on the Otter, especially the caffeinated flavours!

GU Trail Runner Cornel de Jongh ties in with Muller’s cold weather advice, saying that “holding a GU Energy Gel in each hand while trail running helps keep the hands warm”.  A GUd tip if you find yourself running without gloves with colder weather rolling in.

Littering has luckily never been an issue on the Otter trail, but we’d like to keep it this way and thus GU Crew member Luan van Schalkwyk advises that “if I’m using a few of the same flavour of GU Energy or Roctane Gels, I like to put them into a Salomon Soft Flask instead of having to deal with the resulting trash while on the trails”. For those that like a thinner consistency gel, you can also add a bit of water to the flask to achieve that.

Van Schalkwyk also says that “if it’s a hot day, I like to add a GU Electrolyte Tablet to my GU Electrolyte Brew or GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Drink for extra electrolytes without the bulk of a separate bottle”. This is a GUd tip for the Otter where it’s not always practical to have different bottles and/or bladders with you.

His last tip revolves around mixing up your GU flavours. Otter can be a long day (up to 11 hours for some) so this helps you to not get tired of your nutrition and keep taking in those much needed calories. “I like to take Grape flavoured GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Drink together with the Peanut Butter flavoured GU Energy Gel for a ‘Peanut Butter and Jelly’ type of flavour, a lekker mix of sweet and savoury” says Van Schalkwyk.

GU multi-sport athlete and African X trail run stage race winner Dawid Visser also has a tip to help you combat litter on the Otter.  ” The little tear off flap of a GU Energy Gel actually fits inside the sachet once you have squeezed out the contents.  Many times you will see the little flap dropped on the trails while the rest of the empty sachet has been shoved into a pocket.  So try and empty the sachet and just walk for 2 or 3 steps (this also helps lower your heart rate so nutrition is easier to take in) and slip the flap into the empty sachet.  Practice makes perfect; the first few times might be bit tricky, but you will get the hang of it.  Be careful of falling, you can even stand still while you do it” says Visser.

With the anticipation of getting on with the Otter, your warm up combined with race day nerves tend to raise your heart rate, which leads to some much needed calories being burnt.  If you didn’t have a great breakfast (many struggle to eat early before a race like the Otter) you will then need some added calories.  Visser’s advice on this is “to help curb the first little low after the start of the Otter you can take your first GU Energy Gel after about 15 minutes into the race and then calculate your next gel to be taken every 45 minutes to an hour after that one”.  Remember that once again this is purely a guideline; it’s best to test the intervals you need to take in nutrition on the trail for yourself.

Also remember to take about 2 – 3 mouthfuls of water with every GU Energy Gel to aid absorption.  “Most people seem to think that it’s the gel upsetting their stomach during a race. Your stomach most likely gets upset because there isn’t enough fluid in your gut to aid absorption of the calories, so your stomach has to draw the fluid from other places and this in turn strains the stomach”  says Visser.  Visser further advises trail runners to “hydrate along the way and take the gel in 3 ‘pieces’.  Squeeze a little into your mouth, swallow and repeat over a 2 to 3 minute period till the sachet is empty.  Your stomach will also react better to the little bits coming down your gullet than all at once, especially the longer you get into a long trail run like the Otter”.  Just remember that a whole gel needs to be taken for it to be effective, one cannot take a bit of gel from the same sachet over a few hours and expect results.

After our post on planning your Otter nutrition, you should know how much you need, but GU Trail Runner Kane Reilly advises one to err on the side of caution. “Rather take too much nutrition, rather than too little! That extra GU Energy Gel doesn’t weigh much, but it can make a huge difference when you really need it, especially in a race like Otter where your race can be won or lost with nutrition!” We agree, rather take some extra nutrition than risking a time penalty from delving into your emergency food during the race.

Stuart Marais, GU multi-sport athlete and recent winner of the Mountain Warrior 38km trail run, echoes our sentiments in saying “you must stick to your nutrition plan.  Calculate how much you will need before the Otter and stick to that plan eg.  a GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Gel every 40 minutes and a slug of GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Drink every 20 minutes”.

Marais also says ” don’t wait till you are thirsty before you drink and don’t wait till you are hungry before you eat. When you are hungry or thirsty, it is too late, the damage has been done.” Again this means sticking to your nutritional plan like we discussed in a previous GU Otter HDYG Tip.

Desert running specialist and multiple KAEM champion Dirk Cloete has a GUd tip for the racing snakes concerned with carrying too much weight. “Make a concentrated energy drink (for example GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Drink + GU Electrolyte Brew) in a small 300 ml bottle. Then swallow small sips down with water over the same period of time you would have done if you had the 2 drinks diluted separately according to the recommended formula.” This gives you the same energy intake, but you don’t need to carry so much product with you. Just be sure to get enough water in so the drinks can be in the proper dilution ration in your stomach.

Lastly 2013 SA Long Distance Trail Champ Thabang Madiba says that “I normally drink GU Roctane Ultra Endurance Drink around 2 hours before I start my race to ensure I’m properly hydrated and energized”. The Roctane Ultra Endurance Drink allows almost 3 times the calories to be ingested by taking in the same amount of liquid, so you won’t have a sloshing stomach like you would if you had to take 2-3 bottles of GU Electrolyte Brew and it’s much easier to manage in the morning rush before the race.

We hope these tips have given you some GUd insight into the little details nutrition wise that make a difference for the pro trail runners when they take on the Otter.

Hopefully these tips will give you that slight edge you need come race day!

Best of luck with your final Otter prep, we look forward to seeing you on the start line!

The GU Crew