One of my biggest struggles during a 100 mile run is staying awake between the hours of 3-6 am. I always have to have a pacer with me during those hours, not just because I like having a friendly face along for the adventure, but because I can’t stay awake!
At three in the morning, I become very tired. I nod off as I’m drudging down the trail. I start weaving back and forth and my footing is precarious. It takes all the concentration I can muster, which isn’t much at that point, to keep my eyes open. I’m so tired I hallucinate. I tell my pacer to keep talking to me and make sure I answer with at least a grunt to help me stay awake. Luckily, none of my races have put me on narrow trails with drops to either side during the wretched hours.
I’ve tried using coffee, but it makes my stomach upset and I’m a coffee lover when I’m not running. I can drink it right before a run, but not in the later stages of a 100 miler. I’ve tried chocolate covered espresso beans, which caused major issues during bear to the point I had to make myself vomit (not pretty). Carbonation bothers me too, so I don’t drink the sodas.
5-hour energy is about the most disgusting option out there in my opinion. I’d rather stay away from Red Bull and other energy drinks if possible.
I know a lot of this boils down to my sensitive stomach. The farther I run, the less tolerant my stomach becomes. I’ve worked on eating solid food and believe I have that figured out. It’s all about quantity.
At Bear 100, another runner offered me nodoz. I turned him down because I had never used it before and was concerned it would upset my stomach. I’ll try the nodoz, if I can’t find anything else.
I know conquering this tiredness issue will drastically increase my speed during the nighttime hours especially from 3-6. It will put a sub-24 hour finish within my grasp. It’s my goal to figure something out before the next 100 (March 2016).
There are many sports drinks and endurance fuel options such as shot blocks and gu, which contain caffeine, but during the final 25 miles of a race I crave real food and I don’t like the sugar spikes with the gu and shot blocks.
I’ve been researching other natural sources of caffeine besides coffee and have come up with a few things I think I can throw into a granola bar such as maca powder, cacao and goji berries. I’m going to find a green tea with fennel and possibly ginseng too.
My other thought is to stop drinking caffeine two weeks before a race with the hope that it will lower my tolerance and make the tea and granola bar more effective.
Does anyone have anyone have any suggestions?
Lowering your tolerance is a great idea. I used to use Mt. Dew to stay awake on my drives to and from college, CA to Utah. As soon as I started drinking it just whenever, it no longer worked to keep me awake. I would definitely try that.
How long did it take to reduce your tolerance?