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Long ol' dayhike prep
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Kevin Sullivan
(bustedchucks) - F
Long ol' dayhike prep on 05/06/2013 17:55:30 MDT Print View

I want to do a Hut to Hut traverse in the White Mountains, NH; it weighs in at about 50 miles with 16,000-17,000 feet of gain ( and about the same amount of loss) and wanted to get some input from anyone who'd like to chime in. The idea is to finish in less than 24 hours. At this point my goal is basically to finish in one push and the time is a distant second, i.e. I would consider finishing in 26 hours an unqualified success.

Part of me thinks it is preposterous (who are you kidding, you can't cover that kind of ground in one go) and another part thinks that just maybe I can. Who knows, right? In any event, it has captured my imagination and I want to give it a shot.

Me: avid hiker and that is about it, not a serious athlete. I have been building up the milage this spring with dayhikes in the mid 20 miles and up. Last weekend was 36 miles with a bit less than 10,000 feet of gain in 14.5 hours. I felt pretty good and had an overall fatigue the next day but no soreness worth mentioning.

So if you were me and the hut traverse was at the end of June, what would you be doing until then? I am going to revisit the circuit of NE tough dayhikes: Catkills Devils Path, ADK Great Range, Presi and Pemi Loop in NH over the next few weeks. Aside from getting in one tough dayhike a week I have no other plan.

What about food? Thus far I have eaten real food: chicken salad sandwiches, bananas, gorp, pretzels and various bars. Mostly water, some gatorade type stuff. Would you recommend sticking with the same or should I experiment with switching over to ultra runner gels and such for some of my calorie needs. At what point does the "technology food" become advantageous? Aside from cramping, I haven't had any chemical imbalance/insufficiency type woes yet but I understand that I am exponentially more likely to have to deal with this as the miles get over a certain point.

So, yeah...all input welcome!

Edited by bustedchucks on 05/06/2013 17:56:30 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Some thoughts on 05/06/2013 20:57:18 MDT Print View

1) Drop the idea of a time to complete the route and concentrate on just maintaining a pace you can sustain for the distance. Then come back and do it for time on a second effort. You'll have a much better idea of what it takes, how to train, how to fuel, and you'll probably enjoy the hike a lot more than if you put yourself under the gun by thinking of a specific time goal.

2) Experiment with gels and powders over your next few training hikes. They provide
readily available energy with very little impact on your digestive system. If
you feel the need for solid food, consider simple foods that do not require a
lot of digesting. A very popular ultra marathoner food is boiled potatoes.
They are a source of rapidly available carbs and are unlikely to cause
stomach upset. Taken with a little salt, think Mortons Lite Salt which provides
both sodium and potassium, they are downright tasty and provide that satisfying
feeling of having eaten "real" food. Soda crackers, low fat baked potato chips,
even bread are also good alternatives. These are all relatively low calorie
sources of energy but, in combination with your stored body fat, should be more
than enough to last you 50 hilly miles.

3) Pay attention to electrolyte replacement, as you will be losing considerable sodium and potassium in particular over the course of an effort like the one you are contemplating. IMO, the most straightforward way to accomplish this is to add ~ 1/4 tsp of Mortons Lite Salt to each liter of water. It supplies ~270 mg of sodium and ~350 mg of potassium. If you feel the need, you could also take a couple of calcium-magnesium tablets along as well to take midway thru your hike, but probably not necessary. Another nice arrow to have in your quiver is a few anti cramping pills/tablets. One good naturopathic brand is Hylands Leg Cramps. I have used them with good results both prophylactically in situations where I know I will be in for trouble, and also after the fact to calm things down.

4) Go out there and have a great time! Best of luck.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Long ol' dayhike prep on 05/06/2013 22:08:21 MDT Print View

here are a few trip reports from folks who have done it possibly the only winter completion.. he also has his summer "daylight" TR back in June if you look summer with lots of detail.

you could also email Adam or Tim Seaver who have some major experience with that route.

i use gels for cycling a lot and they are great for quick boosts in between real food. definitely try a few different kinds beforehand.. i like Hammer Nutrition's and GU in certain flavors

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Long ol' dayhike Prep on 05/06/2013 22:44:30 MDT Print View

Last Saturday I hiked to Mt. Diablo in the East Bay about 24 miles round trip in 8 hours. My prep was going to sleep early Friday night about 9:00pm and got up at 5:30am and started hiking by 6:00--I had a high carb dinner(pizza) and drank a 32oz Gatorade and cookies. On the hike I had 5 HR Energy, GU, GU H2O Powder, Snicker Bars, Bananas, Mike & Ikes, Jerky, Strawberries and PB & Jelly Sandwich. I never really stop that much but took a 30 minute brake at the summit and then came back. I am big believer in Gu Electrolytes plus really hydrating the night before the day hike and especially if you going to Hi elevations. I got home around 2:30 in the afternoon and was tired. It was warm to hot at times. My feet were soar so I iced them few times in the afternoon with some adult beverages. A good nights rest is probably the most important thing you can do for preparation IMHO. Rest than Attack the Day!!!! plus burn Calories.




Marc Eldridge
(meld) - MLife

Locale: The here and now.
Re: Mt Diablo on 05/07/2013 09:16:53 MDT Print View


Edited by meld on 05/07/2013 12:05:49 MDT.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Gels on 05/07/2013 09:25:47 MDT Print View

I wouldnt use gels as your primary food source if you havent been using them extensively. I would bring one or two though if you really need more energy for a big climb. At easy hiking paces (3mph) I find I can digest food well so I dont need gels.

As for training I would keep doing hikes in the 30 to 35 range or if possible a shorter hike with the same total elevation as your 50 miler. I would bet you could do it now based on your 35 mie day not totally destroying you

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Hammer Perpetuem on 05/07/2013 09:36:00 MDT Print View

I would suggest looking at
for endurance fuel throughout the day. Highly recommended.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Long ol' dayhike prep on 05/07/2013 09:37:30 MDT Print View

hiking 50 miles in 24 hours is not at all preposterous.
in the ultrarunning world it is done all the time.
the biggest aspect of your goal is the 17,000 ft of gain.

I would recommend focusing your training on doing a lot of elevation gain first and mileage second. In ultrarunning its basically focusing on time on your feet rather than miles on your feet. Flat miles are easy, climbing miles ... not so much.

As far as food, I agree with Greg that a gel based diet may not be the best for your goal. But everyone is different. You need to experiment to find out how your body reacts to solid food v.s. how it reacts to liquid food on such a long day. Whether you go solid or liquid, you definitely want some fats and protein in your food consumption.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Mt Diablo on 05/07/2013 10:21:58 MDT Print View

Lol... not to knock the mt diablo hike but it doesn't look anything close to the Hut to Hut traverse... 15mi with 4000' of probably western graded trail is a drop in the bucket compared to 50mi with 17k white mountains "hey lets go straight up this" type trail.

(gps track from Adam's site)

Edited by JakeDatc on 05/07/2013 10:23:55 MDT.

Kevin Sullivan
(bustedchucks) - F
re Long ol' dayhike on 05/07/2013 17:00:51 MDT Print View

Thanks for the ideas so far, everyone!

I will check out the Mortons salt and cramp pills. Cramping does concern me.

What I am leaning towards is continue eating in much the same fashion while playing around with different gels. This is probably one of those "it is going to be a bit different for each person" type things. I would prefer to eat food food as long as I am able to digest it. I will definitely check out the purpetuem; that keeps popping up when I poke around.

Thanks for the links and thanks (I think) for the elevation profile. That thing is intimidating!

I agree that the elevation gain is going to be the kicker here and that my prep should account for that. It will require some creative map-lookin' to put together big numbers in that area with driving too far. I have sussed out a loop for this Saturday that will be 32ish miles with about 9k in gain.

Todd ~

Locale: The front range
Sorry, I'm verbose. TL;DR on 05/08/2013 12:00:40 MDT Print View

Energy gels are great for ultra-running, as they provide the lightest possible nutritional support.

To do this, they start with sugar. Sugar is the fuel your body runs on, and specifically, the sugar “glucose”. As you exercise, your body uses up its ready supply of glucose, and starts burning other things for fuel. It breaks down fat (hurray!) and also muscle (doh!) and starts to use these breakdown products instead of sugar.

Just eating glucose isn’t practical for ultra-running. One would have to constantly consume small amounts of glucose to prevent big spikes and troughs in available blood glucose (sugar rush, then crash).

To even this out, energy gels use starch. A chain any simple sugars is called a starch. A starch of only glucose sugars is called “maltodextrin,” and that is what is found in energy gels.

One’s intestine breaks down starches slowly (simple glucose may be absorbed directly through the stomach into the blood, most of it doesn't even make it to the intestine). This results in blood sugar going up in a more moderate and sustained way as maltodextrin is broken down into glucose, and absorbed.

Energy gels combine maltodextrin with a simple sugar called “fructose,” which is very similar to glucose. Fructose is added because it tastes sweet and also because your intestine absorbs a mix of sugars better than a single form. You will be familiar with a sugar made from the combination of one glucose and one fructose, it’s a sugar called “sucrose,” the one we extract from sugar cane and put in our coffee.

For ultra runners who need to replace energy but don't want to be slowed down to eat, this formulation of maltodextrin (glucose starch) and fructose makes a lot of sense. They can easily get a mouth full of energy and keep running. But it’s not health food. It’s a mouth full of starchy candy syrup.

This starchy candy syrup is fortified with: some electrolytes lost in sweat (sodium and potassium), along some amino acids (the break down products of protein), and some anti-oxidants (like vitamin C) because endurance exercise creates lots of free radicals, which anti-oxidants stabilize.

This would be great if you were trying to run an Iron-Man, where seconds lost eating count. But you’re trying to hike for a day straight, covering 50 miles. For that, what you are eating: mainly starchs (pretzels, banana, granola bars, etc.) with some fat and some protein (chicken salad sandwich) is perfect (as long as the mayonnaise doesn’t spoil and make you sick). Keeping some jelly belly beans (being almost entirely sucrose and glucose) handy sucking on them one at a time would work just as well for you as an energy gel.

I’m not certain how many calories you are going to burn in this endeavor. The Leadville 100 mile ultra race calculates competitors will burn 12,000 calories covering twice this distance in half the time. Those competitors are moving faster, but carrying almost nothing for a supported race, so it seems calling those factors a wash and cutting their number in half is a reasonable estimate. That means you want to consume about 6,000 calories, and up to 2,000 of that can be basically junk food: candy, chocolate, pretzels… Why not enjoy it rather than choking down an energy gel.

I do use endurolyte tablets when I run longer than 5K. And they may be helpful for you in this effort. Endurolytes include the full range of electrolytes lost in sweat, rather than just sodium and potassium like most energy gels.

A multivitamin before, in the middle, and at the end might also be useful.

For your water requirements in this endeavor, your goal should be to start well hydrated, and finish at the same weight as you started. If you weigh more at the end, you may have consumed too much water, and if you way less you have consumed too little. Try bringing a bathroom scale with you on your Saturday prep to see where you are before and after.

For more research, I’d recommend you read articles and advise on the Leadville 100, taking the considerable amount that is written on training for and running that race as good advice for your own plan. Not just on nutrition, but also how to pace the course for the best time, etc.

Finally: Good on you! This sounds like a great idea for an adventure course. Please let us know what worked for you and what didn’t. I’ll never run Leadville, but I can see myself trying and something like this.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
My advice on 05/08/2013 12:50:11 MDT Print View

Come join me this weekend for a hike from Manchester Center to Cheshire MA. I will be doing a bit over 40 on Saturday. Now I'm going to head a bit differently than previous posts. You are making too big of jump from your level to a 50 mile day with that elevation. You risk injury. How do I know this? I jumped from 42 up to 57 and it darn near put me out of commission. Put off your trip until you have some solid 40 milers in then take it on. The same training ripples of +10% max should also apply here. Second, listen to Tom. I did and it changed my entire hiking strategy. Want more check out this. It has much of what you are looking for. If you look you are attempting pretty much the same type of hike as my final training hike.

As far as food, you need to trial all of this prior to you big event. I could do this event eating chocolate covered donuts. I know this because I did long hike trialing this concept. Everyone needs to find their sweet spot. Good luck

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: My advice on 05/08/2013 13:53:51 MDT Print View

My advice - listen to Tom and Malto. I used to struggle with fueling on long, grueling hikes until I read their multitude of advice. Use their experience(important) to help build upon your own experience(most important). Once you creep above ~30 miles of mountainous terrain, fueling is a huge factor & you need to experiment to see what your body likes.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 05/08/2013 13:58:36 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Donuts :-) on 05/08/2013 14:02:32 MDT Print View

" I could do this event eating chocolate covered donuts. "

I sure wish I knew that years ago.
just the ultra diet I've been waiting for.

Kevin Sullivan
(bustedchucks) - F
Re: Sorry, I'm verbose. TL;DR on 05/08/2013 17:40:36 MDT Print View


Wrong subject line, man! No apologies needed there. Awesome post making complicated stuff easily, um, digestible. Thank you very much for taking the time to write that out; I very much appreciate it.


Thank you for the invite; unfortunately, I have a commitment on Sunday here in NJ. I hiked the LT in '10, loved it all, and haven't gotten back to VT as much as I would like.

Your journal will be a great resource. I just took a quick look through the beginning and will definitely be going back to read through slowly and make some notes. Thank you for pointing me there.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
More time on 05/08/2013 18:17:49 MDT Print View

I only had a few minutes on my prior reply. Here's a bit more.
1) between now and then try getting some 40-45 milers in. Ideally you would be pushing a 50 miler on easier terrain just to get a feel for hiking that length of time.
2) Target the summer solstice. You will need the daylight hours. You are picking one of the toughest 50 miles that I know. You will need the daylight because you may find your pace REALLY slows with a combination of tired legs, rough terrain, darkness and less than obvious trail. It gets mentally very challenging.
3) have a couple of your hikes extend into the dark. You will need to be very comfortable hiking in the dark.
4) electrolytes have been covered. Great information above.
5) fueling. Very individual but here is my food strategy for this weekend. 73 miles in pretty much a day and a half. Concentrate on carbs, that's what your body burns. I weigh fully loaded about 200lbs and target about 100 calories almost exclusively carbs per mile. Since I will have an overnight I am also including an end of day meal (two packets of spam, little Debbie's brownie and about 400 calories of Maltodextrin mix. The 7300 calories will include 4000 calories of Malto, 1000 calories of assorted chips, 1000 calories of Little Debbie's brownies , 900 calories in Poptarts and 400 calories of Candy bars. I have found that I need a variety of sweet and salty and the chips provide this. I generally will alternate 1 hr of Malto then 1 hour of "real" food. I also metering the Malto about 150 calories at a time in most cases. I have never seen the sugar spikes that others talk about because I meter the food all day long.
6) other things to get nailed down. Blisters, chafing, water consumption etc. everything becomes more critical as the intensity increases. Hopefully some of your hikes have found and corrected some of these issues.
7) on your training hikes look to maintain a very consistent speed. For me that is 3mph. I use to watch how many hours I was able to maintain this. Eventually it became all day. This was accomplished by cutting almost all breaks, eating on the move and increasing my pace. My pack was optimized to allow this with everything that I need for the day in my hip belt pockets. You might be surprised how much time is spent on short breaks. (I have not gone to skurka extreme and urinate on the move. I'm not coordinated enough and would make a mess of my shoes.)
Finally, this is an incredibly aggressive trip. If you do succeed in this you may have the same feeling as I did after my 57 mile Georgia Loop, never again. Because of the distance and elevation gain there are few trips to top that which is good. I no longer am in pursuit of that single day hiking record. I find this to be a relief because I am less likely to do overly aggressive trip that would result in injury. I still do many high mile days but it is less about a record and more about pushing to accomplish a goal like section hike the AT in a couple of years or the Bob trip. This is probably the single biggest accomplishment of the Georgia Loop trip. Good luck and use the time between now and then to refine every aspect of your hiking/walking/running etc.

Edited by gg-man on 05/08/2013 19:05:43 MDT.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: re Long ol' dayhike on 05/08/2013 19:26:14 MDT Print View

Also, maybe take a tip from Adam and Tim seaver and DO the beginning section at least once (maybe some of the other sections too like near the end) to know those trails and be comfortable with just going. (similar to what GG says about in the dark). I know for their speed stuff they scout stuff out.

(woo LT thru hike party ;) GG we should hike in NH sometime.. but not 50mi at once. Pemi loop this summer will be pushing it for me)