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Supporting a runner on the London to Brighton double marathon

(13 Posts)
PrettyCandles Mon 08-Aug-11 15:06:57

I'm going to be supporting my mad quite mad dh when he does the London to Brighton run in a few weeks.

Any tips on the best way to do this?

I'll have spare shoes and running clothes with me, Vaseline, and water to top up his Camelbak, but what else should I bring?

Should I bring food as well as runners' fuel gels? If so, what sort?

Should I bring Compeed? Or is that only for repairing the damage after running? Or is there a better alternative?

The course is about 56m, mostly self-navigated cross-country. Is anyone familiar with this run, and can advise me where are the best places to meet dh?

How many times should I aim to meet him?

I'll have the car (and probably the 3dc, too).

bagelmonkey Tue 09-Aug-11 13:45:40

Fill a load of empty fruit shoot bottles with an isotonic sports drink or dioralyte so you can had them to him as he runs and he can drop them a bit further along, but close enough for you to see and pick up.

PrettyCandles Tue 09-Aug-11 14:50:36

Do the fuel gels contain rehydration salts? If he's taking them, as well as water, would he need isotonic drinks? The reason I ask is that he doesn't use the drinks, prefers gels and water, so we don't know how he would get on with the drinks.

Also, how far along the road would he drop them? (I know, how long is a piece of string?)

bagelmonkey Tue 09-Aug-11 16:37:46

Oh, gels and water would be perfect. If using small bottles, not too far. It's hard to drink when running so the sports style tops help.

afishcalledmummy Tue 09-Aug-11 16:42:05

I'd pack some savoury foodstuffs - peanut butter or marmite sandwiches, crisps or similar. DH does long distance races and gets to a point where he cannot stomach another gel/sweet/sugary drink and just needs something savoury to take the edge off.

Plasters, tape, vaseline, immodium, painkillers are helpful in a first aid kit. I'd also have a couple of changes of socks in case his feet get wet or chafed.

As to how often you see him - that depends on what he is carrying re fuel and water. If he has a camelbak or similar hydration system you probably only need to meet him every 12 or so miles - if he can't carry as much fluid you may need to meet him more often. Can you do a bit of a practice on his training run?

PrettyCandles Tue 09-Aug-11 17:19:26

Oh dear, dh loathes both Marmite and peanut butter! Dh says that on marathons he does get fed up of the sickly stuff and eats a muesli bar or two. It would probably be good to have a savoury alternative. Would any carb-rich, low-protein, hand-held food be suitable?

I wondered about ibuprofen. Doesn't taking painkillers risk masking pain to the extent of masking real injury?

Immodium - good idea! Does it matter that he has never AFAIK taken it?

Tape - what sort? Zinc? Micropore?

He has a 3L camelbak. Does this mean that I should aim to meet him 3 times over the 56m course? Or should I aim to meet him more often and let him choose whether to stop?

Unfortunately I won't be able to do any training runs with him. And we won't have a chance to go over the course beforehand, which worries me a little because it is self-navigated.

Thank you all very much for your advice!

afishcalledmummy Tue 09-Aug-11 18:48:12

Any savoury foodstuff will be fine - I was just suggesting what DH uses. He raved about a salty chicken soup he was given at IM Germany for years, so if your DH likes that it might be worth considering. I'm not sure it needs to be hand held as people do tend to take breaks at the aid stations on ultra marathons. Ask him what he wants and be prepared for him to reject everything you have, especially in the later stages of the race. Another thing DH adores when racing are jaffa cakes as the sponge seems a bit more substantial than just sweets/gels.

Re painkillers - yes it does run that risk, but if this is his A race he's likely (if he's like any other ultra runner) to continue and finish it even if he is getting hurt. One of DH's friends suffers with his feet aching after about 40 miles so takes painkillers to dull the pain and get through the race. I think most people know the difference between the fatigued ache you'll get in an ultra and the more acute pain of injury. It's something worth having IMHO as he might need it (and they'll likely help at the end). I wouldn't worry if he hasn't taken immodium before - dodgy tummies are one of the more likely side effects of long runs, so it may be required on the day (it's more likely not to be though). And with tape - I go for the stickiest stuff I can find - zinc type stuff as the skin will be a bit clammy and it's just for helping cover blisters.

I'd be there for him more often than he needs you - better to be there and run past than not be there when he needs you. Make sure you have eta's at each of the checkpoints so you can go back to find him if he's super late and struggling. Make sure he has his phone and you have yours in case he hits the wall and he needs you to bring fuel to him.

PrettyCandles Tue 09-Aug-11 20:41:40

I just now read somewhere that ultras are basically food marathons with lots of countryside! So different easy foods, and plenty of it. He seems to love my carb-fest sweet potato and lentil soup for after races, so I'll make extra for during the race. And cool it a little for the flask, so that he can eat it straight away. Also a flask of ketchup soup (another favourite, but this one a thin, watery soup).

nocake Tue 09-Aug-11 21:03:11

I've run ultras in the past and each runner is different in what they need. You should let him plan his nutrition and then work out how you're going to make sure he gets what he needs at the right time. I would carry extra supplies of whatever he wants and also some extra bits and pieces (sandwiches, savoury snacks, fruit). A few medical supplies may be useful - ibuprofen, compeed, immodium, zinc oxide tape. Again, he should be thinking what he might need and letting you know. Don't forget that you'll need to eat as well so pack food for you.

If it's self navigated (or even if not) a mobile phone each will be essential. I remember frantic phone calls as my DW tried to track me down on the Grand Union Canal to give me painkillers.

nocake Tue 09-Aug-11 21:08:31

I've just dipped into the race website. As it's only 56 miles he should be able to carry all his food himself. I've carried everything I needed except water for a 50 mile race without any problem. That means you only need to worry about getting water to him. If you can meet him every 10ish miles he shouldn't need to carry more than 1 litre.

PrettyCandles Wed 10-Aug-11 07:14:29

Dh isn't used to running supported - in the past my support has been to cheer him wildly, with the dc, at as many points along the course as we could, and to meet him with soup and supplies at the end. But his longest runs so far have been marathons.

Although he researches and plans his training meticulously, he's not been as good about telling me what he needs from me. So, for example, I needed to research carb-loading before a race, myself.

He's tempted by going it alone the full length of the course, but has decided he wants me to be available from about 30m. And appreciates my suggestions grin. He's a very focused individual, and sometimes misses peripheral things, whereas my mind tends to leap, gazelle-like, around the subject (the only gazelle-like thing about me!), so I tend to come up with things that have not occured to him.

Question: wet or dry toilet paper? (Despite his best attempts, he sometimes cannot 'empty out' before very early-starting runs, and has had to resort to dock leaves once or twice.)

nocake Wed 10-Aug-11 09:05:47

Oh yes, the toilet paper grin I just carried a small roll of normal paper and found an area of woodland and bushes.

Let me tell you what I did for my last 50 mile race. There were checkpoints every 10ish miles where I could get water so I started with about 1litre in my camelbak. I then carried ziploc bags each containing enough food to get to the next checkpoint. I worked out how many calories I could digest between checkpoints and packed that many in a bag. They contained a variety of food such as dried fruit, homemade flapjacks (high energy with nuts and fruit), cashew nuts and jelly babies. The bags for the later stages also contained a gel as they're easy to digest and I carried a couple of spare gels.

My rucksack has pockets on the waist strap so at each checkpoint I transferred the bag for the next stage into one of the pockets. That meant it was easy to get to as I was running. I also topped up my water supply at each checkpoint. There's no point carrying too much water as it's heavy. I was also carrying an empty drinks bottle containing sports drink powder. At the half way point I filled this with water so had an energy and electrolyte boost for the next stage.

I didn't actually eat all of my food during the race but having it in bags made it easier to gauge how much I should be eating. If he's planning to do it self supported then he could try the same as I did but would need to carry more water. The only problem with that is the weight.

Because the race organisers were providing water there wasn't much my supporters needed to do. I did insist on them bringing me an expresso during one race grin and also some painkillers that I'd forgotten to pack and found I needed after tweaking my ankle.

There's little point in carb loading before an ultra as you keep yourself fuelled up as you go.

PrettyCandles Wed 10-Aug-11 09:53:02

Thank you! This is excellent info - the sort of thing you learn through experience, which we lack ATM.

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