Nutrition and hydration
To nourish is to flourish - so eat and drink wisely
To get you across the finish line at Oxfam Trailwalker, adequate nutrition and hydration are just as important as your fitness training.
You may not be able to complete the event if you don't provide your body with the fuel it needs. And on a more serious note, if you don't drink enough liquid – or not the right type – you could find yourself in hospital.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
To get the balance right, ensure you maintain a steady intake of fluids throughout the event, consisting of both water and electrolyte drinks. Drinking at regular intervals, say every 15 minutes, is a good idea. Test out what works for you in training and stick with it for the event.
Remember these words:
R-Line Electrolyte Drink is the official hydration drink for Oxfam Trailwalker and will be available at each checkpoint during the event. We recommend that you try R-Line electrolyte drink before the challenge so you know how your body responds to it.
- Dehydration – obey your thirst! Your thirst is a pretty good indicator of your levels of dehydration. Hydration and sodium (salt) levels are highly related, and you will be losing a large amount of salt during the event through sweat, so it is important you continually replace it through drinks and your diet.
- Cramp – The key causes of cramp are a lack of sodium (salt) and lack of training. Train well for the event, drink a high sodium sports drink and make sure you pack some salty foods.
- Heat exhaustion / heat injury / heat stroke – These are very serious conditions and can occur when you are moving at a fast pace and/or you are dehydrated. If you are thirsty, have a drink, and if you are overheating, try to keep your temperature down through appropriate clothing and closely monitor you and your teams intake of fluids.
- Hyponatremia – This is a condition where sodium (salt) levels in your blood fall to dangerously low levels. Typically this is caused by drinking too much water rather than not ingesting enough salt. Drinking sports drinks rather than water is still not a defence against hyponatremia if you drink too much. It’s a rare condition because people typically urinate out excess water, but in some cases it can be very dangerous.
- Hypothermia - The risk of hypothermia is much higher when you are dehydrated so be wary of the temperature dropping during the night, especially if there is wind and rain forecast.
Lastly, remember everyone is different and responds differently, so this advice is general in nature. The main thing is you practice what you will use at the event and see how it works for you. We recommend seeking professional advice if you have any individual concerns.
This event hydration advice page has been written by Phill Dromgool and adapted by Oxfam New Zealand. Phill is food technologist, sporting enthusiast, intrepid traveller, Kiwi and proud creator of R-Line Electrolyte drink. Thanks to Phill for sharing his knowledge and supporting Oxfam and the participants of Oxfam Trailwalker.
R-Line Electrolyte Drink will be available at every checkpoint during the event - a big thanks to R-Line for donating 600 litres to Oxfam Trailwalker. We recommend that you try R-Line Electrolyte Drink before the challenge so you know how your body responds to it. It is available online nationwide and at retailers in most centres. Sports drinks can be used as one of your nutritional tools during the event, but plan to take in other sustenance as well.
For every bottle of sports drink concentrate that R-Line sells via their dedicated Oxfam Trailwalker page, R-Line will donate $5 back to Oxfam or your Oxfam Trailwalker fundraising page. This page is open to everyone so if you can convince your friends to buy a bottle too, that’s a bigger donation to Oxfam.
During an endurance event like Oxfam Trailwalker its essential to replenish your stores of carbohydrates and fats.
Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are all fuel for your body. Carbohydrates and fats are your primary source during exercise. Most people have a plentiful store of fats in their bodies – enough to last 100km and beyond – however the body’s store of carbohydrates is limited.
High carbohydrate foods – bread, cereals, pasta, starchy vegetables, fruit and fruit juice, dairy products, sugars, honey, cordial and confectionary.
High protein foods – meat (red, white, fish), dairy, eggs, nuts, and legumes (e.g lentils).
What to eat
Three to four days before the event, increase your carbohydrate intake to 8–12 grams per kilogram of your body weight. For instance, if you weigh 75 kilograms eat up to 900 grams of carbohydrates per day. During this time eat less high-fat foods because they will fill you up rather than the carbohydrates.
Have a good meal the night before and on the morning of the event (1-4 hours before your start) eat a high-carbohydrate breakfast to top up your carbohydrates one last time.
On the start-line
In the hour before the event start, stay hydrated and eat easily digestible carbs like bananas or soft muesli bars.
Have a plan
Work out what food and drink you are going to have before the event, at checkpoints and on the trail. We suggest having a meal plan sussed out with your support crew.
Don't do anything new
Stick to the food and drink you have tried during training and you know works for you. The event is not the time to broaden your culinary horizons.
Beginner to intermediate participants
Eat meals and snacks high in carbohydrates, and drink appropriate fluids at regular intervals. Eating every three hours should keep you on track. Meals include sandwiches, wraps, rolls, noodles, rice and pasta. Good snacks are fruit, nuts, muesli bars, pikelets and muffins.
If you’re planning on running most of the course most of your carbohydrates will come from sports drinks and gels but you will still need to eat. As a guide you should be aiming to eat one gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight with a minimum of 60 grams per hour.
Below are some super simple recipes to get you started! These come straight from one of our awesome interns and are super tasty. Have a go making them for your training walks and for the big event day.