Running Rations

This week I'm doing an Atacama race simulation to test my gear and food, and as a final training block before the race. I'm aiming to complete a four-day series of long runs. I have almost all my final race gear and I have a nutrition plan that I'd like to use during the race. This will be the last check and after this I should be ready and I expect to be confident in all my choices going into the event (if everything works this week).

I have prepared four days of food that are exactly like I plan to use in the race. It doesn't look like very much and doesn't look that appetizing, but I hope that my homemade meals and the variety of flavors for my race fuel will be better than last year's freeze-dried meals. I've split the meals into four periods: pre-run in the morning, during the run, immediate recovery after the run and an evening meal.

Pre-run breakfast.

I have put all four pre-run breakfasts into one ziploc bag. It's 4 x 72g of Cerelac which will give me 300 calories for breakfast each morning. I love Cerelac so this might even be the most delicious meal for me!

During the run fuel.

During the run I plan to use a combination of Ensure powder during the earlier part of the day and gels during the later part of the day. The first day is short so I'll only be using gels and then the next 3 days I'll use Ensure powder for the first 2 hours (the blue squeeze bottle and two ziploc bags) and gels after that. I aim to consume about 200 calories per hour while running.

Post-run recovery food.

Immediately after the run I start my recovery routine. I'll be taking more Ensure - about 500 calories, a salt rehydration solution, almost no calories, and then eating a small meal of couscous, about 300 calories. This should put back some of the calories I expend during the run and help to rehydrate me.

Evening meal.

Finally I'll be eating an evening meal. Here I've gone for flavor and more food to offset all the gels and powders I'll be eating during the day. I've only prepared three evening meals for the first three days, as I'll be eating something big, delicious and definitely not powder-based after my fourth day of running! For the evening meal I have noodles with chorizo, ham, anchovies, olive oil and parmesan, which on average comes to about 500 calories for each meal.

If anyone has any suggestions for improvements, please leave a comment for me.

Run, walk, clamber, scramble

As the Atacama Crossing draws closer I needed to do a long run with my pack to get used to the weight and to get used to running for a long time in the heat. I decided to go around part of the TNF Ultramaraton de Los Andes 2011 course as I know there's lots of climbing, not too much shade and that it would be some seriously hard work. The route is close to home and usually provides for some spectacular views.

It was a very smoggy day and the city was shrouded in a grey-brown layer of fog that became more visible the higher up I ran - not the usual spectacular city views that I was hoping for! I was quite pleased to be out of that smog and in the clean mountain air. I had a good run and managed to get the time on my legs that I wanted. My pack is starting to feel comfortable and I'm getting used to the heat. A good day out and good preparation for the desert.

Looking over Cerro San Cristobal from the mirador on Carbon.

A smoggy vista from the top of Cerro Carbon.

At the top of Cerro Carbon with the next peak in the background (Manquehue).

The haze of the city appeared the worst from the top of Manquehue.

Next up the peak behind Manquehue heading towards Chicureo.

A view of Chicureo.

Route: Carbon (out of pic on right); Manquehue (1st peak on right); 3rd peak (top left of pic); along the hills to a 4th peak (where the pic is taken from) and then one more climb on the way home.

Map of the run and elevation profile (more details on Strava).

Frutillar - smooth dirt roads for miles

Approaching the end of our road trip we stopped in the idyllic little town of Frutillar. It borders Lake Llanquihue and a lakeside road runs from Frutillar south towards Puerto Varas and most of the way around the lake. Going north, however, is a simple dirt and gravel road that extends along the lake and through the countryside of farms and cottages.

I did a fantastic run on the gravel road, enjoying the tough footing amongst the larger stones that are similar to some of the terrain I'll be racing on in the Atacama. The road dips and rises as it moves through the hills along the lake edge and makes for fun, fast running.

Miles and miles of road to run on.

Beautiful and calm fields line the road.

Enjoying a rolling climb on the way home.

The lake is almost always visible as a reference point along the way.

The farm homes are unbelievable!

Almost back in town with the Frutillar beach reaching out of the photo.

Frutillar in the morning fog.

V and I would love to go to Frutillar again and I'd be happy to run this countryside road a few more times. It wasn't a tough desert or towering mountain, but provided really steady running and I enjoyed the time on my legs.

Mountain Man of Talca

Patrick has been trying to convince me to visit him for some epic running in the mountains of the 7th Region ever since I met him. Everyone knows that Talca, where Pat lives, is not the most exciting holiday destination in Chile so the trip and promised epic running hadn't happened. However, this month V and I went on a road trip to the south of Chile, and Talca was to be the perfect first stop on the way.

We picked up Pat in Talca early on a Friday afternoon and immediately headed to Vilches Alto where Pat is a regular runner in the parks and is well-known by everyone there. He managed to get us a place in a refugio that was fully booked, got us into the park for free when we forgot take any cash with us and knew all the best places for a drink or food.

On Saturday morning we headed out for a long run on one of Pat's favorite routes. It started with some huge climbing that took us just under two hours to reach a small pass close to Cerro Peine. The climbing was great, too steep to be runnable, but not so steep that we were scrambling. From the top the views were spectacular and worth every minute of climbing.

"That's where we're going!"

Sun rising over a false peak that hides the summit for the day.

We crossed over the ridge in the center of the photo.

On the other side of the ridge was a beautiful lagoon.

From the highest point near Cerro Peine we descended almost all of the way back home. First down to an amazing lagoon, then a small climb out of the lagoon basin, followed by some smooth and fast running along perfect trails to Enladrillado (a supposed UFO landing site). Pat was in his element and it was awesome to watch him flying along the trails that he knows so well.

Looking back at the lagoon as we climbed out of the lagoon basin.

Having a ball on awesome trails with great company.

Enladrillado - unfortunately no UFOs on this day.

Looking down into the valley from Enladrillado.

After the UFO landing site we continued descending through a beautiful forest down to the a campsite near the river that runs through the valley of the Reserva Nacional Altos de Lircay. To add on some mileage we ran an out-and-back section to another viewpoint over the river valley.

Mirador over the valley with some great peaks for climbing in the background.

We had an amazing day of running and I thoroughly enjoyed the route that we ran. I'd love to run there again and maybe that's in store for April (Pat's thinking of putting on an informal race in Vilches Alto).

Thanks Pat for a brilliant day!