Hydrating for that Ultra by Cool Impossible Coach Eric Orton

Running an Ultra?

SOS Champion, author of The Cool Impossible and Ultra coaching legend Eric Orton is todays guest blogger.  He kindly offered his secrects of fueling & hydrating for those loooooong runs.

SOS Eric
Ultra Runner and Coach Eric Orton

Whats the routine pre and during an Ultra?


In general for my training I try to use real food as a pre-run load to help get me through moderately long runs without having to take in fuel during.  So I typically do not use gels. On super long stuff I will carry them with me in case I need them late in the day, but during these runs I like to use more nut based bars, nut based paste / butter and SOS.


I will use gels on a hard sustained run, where the effort remains high and the bar is hard to ingest.  Same with fast races.  My general rule is the longer the race/training, the more I try to rely of solids and nut butter.  When I do use gels, very important to use water to help dilute to help stomach.


I think the general run population has been tricked into thinking they need sugar every 20-30 min during a run. And they are way over consuming – and could possibly be causing more bonking and certainly stomach issues.


I talk more in terms of time spent running versus mileage.  I place more emphasis on vertical gain and time, than miles.


And with this, a big part of my focus is to be able to go light and fast in the mountains and this not only requires efficiency in training, but also in my fuel and hydration needs.  The lighter I can go, the faster I can be – allowing me to be safer and go further in extreme terrain.  This means part of my training needs to focus on preparing my body to require less from hydration and fueling, but still be able to put out. And this is why I love SOS so much because the hydration I do take in, because of the SOS, gives me the biggest bang for what I want to carry – it adds to the efficiency.  I also rely on streams for hydration, which works great with the conveniency of carrying SOS.




The seasons affect the fueling and nutrition due to the different training loads:

In my winter running, which is generally very very slow because of being on snow, I will normally have a serving of SOS before my run and then will NOT hydrate during, upto about 2 hrs in length.  Again, these runs are super slow, with lots of climbing for strength.  And then I will hydrate after with SOS as recovery and water throughout the day.  I am always hydrated and use the day to achieve this.  So I am never going into a run dehydrated.  This is a time of year where my focus is on building strength, develop efficiency fat burning abilities, and establish consistent endurance –  where all of my runs do not exceed 3 hrs, but most if not all of these runs are done on snow trails with vertical gain.  Today was an easy 10 miler, and it had 1,000 ft of climbing.  Wednesday was 10 miles with 2500 ft vertical.  All in cool temps, so not a lot of sweating and I purposefully keep climbing as easy as possible – aerobic.


So again, I can’t express enough that these are mainly for strength and aerobic power efficiency, so they are super bloody slow because of the snow.  Therefore, my body is getting used to providing strength and aerobic power, primarily by utilizing fat as my fuel and the low relative intensity doesn’t require that I need a lot from fuel or hydration.  My way of preparing for long days in Summer/Fall.


Once Spring, Summer and warmer temps hit, typically my SOS use looks like this:

  • Easy runs up to 90 min – just SOS pre-run
  • Short, hard runs or long and moderate of 60 min – 2hrs – SOS pre-run + will carry a handheld bottle with SOS and sip throughout. So going in hydrated so do not need much until 30-40 min in depending on heat.
  • 2 –3 hrs – 2 handhelds with SOS
  • 3+ hrs – 2 bottles of SOS plus reserve + sometimes will carry water in bladder hydration pack  depending on availability of water in mtns. The goal would be to try and get one bottle of SOS in every 90 min, again depending on water availability.  This is why I have to be efficiency, because sometimes I just can’t carry enough for an ideal situation.


Hope this helps all of you ultra athletes out there!  Someday you will have to come out for an SOS R&D mtn run and pull me up these mountains!

what goes up …..

From the chief hydrator:

Thanks very much Eric very helpful and super happy to have you as part of our rehydrated world!!


More information on Eric Orton can be found here.  We totally recommend you sign up for one of his Mountain Running Academys


Of course more information on SOS can be found here: www.sosrehydrate.com

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