What do ridiculous marathon athletes eat?
December 26, 2010 11:36 AM   Subscribe

In two weeks, I'm attempting to break a world record by playing dodgeball for 36 hours straight. What should I eat, drink, wear, and do to make this bearable?

20 friends (12 men and 8 women, ranging in age from 20-40) are playing dodgeball for 36 hours straight, to break a record and raise money for charity. Please help us stay alive and awake.

The key rules:
- We can eat and drink whatever & whenever we want. Several players really like to slow-drink alcohol when playing sports.
- We only get one 5-minute break each hour. All players must break at the same time.
- We can bank-up the breaks- for instance, play 3 hours = break 15 minutes.
- Our biggest concern: we are not allowed to relieve ourselves or sleep, except on our official breaks! (and there are only 5 toilets, ack.)
- We start playing late Friday evening and finish on Sunday morning. The venue is indoors, sometimes a bit chilly, lots of natural light.
- We'll play 5-on-5, so there's lots of sit-down time for all players.
- We'll play at a very relaxed pace (the goal is endurance, not winning) so exertion is less of a concern.
- Our biggest concerns are how to stay awake and how to manage bathroom breaks.

We need tips and advice!

What should we eat and drink to keep us energized and away from the toilet?
Logistically, each player will bring their own meals + potluck one big snack to feed the whole team, which means 20 big snacks in 36 hours. We have coolers but no fridges. Please suggest healthy, energizing snack ideas!

How to stay awake while sitting on the sidelines? During our short breaks, is it worth trying to nap, given that we must stay awake when the break is over?

How to avoid physical injuries like blisters, cramps, and chafing?

How to manage going to the bathroom in short, precisely timed, group breaks? (People are nervous about the shared speed-poops. We'll have music and matches in the washroom- other tips?)

Tips for improving group dynamics and breaking up the monotony? We were planning occasional rounds of shot drinks, visits from friends, special snacks, etc. Other ideas?

In the next 2 weeks, what can we do to prepare? We'll eat well and stay extra-hydrated... anything else?

Bonus: If anyone else here has done an endurance event like this, please share anecdata. What worked, what didn't? What was it like overall?
Thanks, MeFi!
posted by ImBitman to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
ImBitman: "How to stay awake while sitting on the sidelines?"

Better living through chemistry: you preferably want modafinil or desoxypipradrol. If you take uppers, avoid short lasting stuff like caffeine - tolerance will have an effect and you won't make it through the crash or it won't be pretty.

Good luck!
posted by turkeyphant at 12:03 PM on December 26, 2010

Low-carb diets are known for cutting way down on poops. You'd probably want to eat a lot of fat to replace the carbs to keep your energy high. If you start a few days ahead of the event, you could easily go 36 hours without needing a poop.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:06 PM on December 26, 2010

B vitamins are great for keeping your mental alertness up.

If anyone does do caffeine, tea has a slower up and slower down - just the same, try to minimize caffeine altogether - it causes your body to flush through water quicker, and since bathroom breaks are an issue, you don't want that as much.

Definitely avoid things that give sugar rushes. Also avoid stuff like sports drinks that have sugar- it can give you the runs.
posted by yeloson at 12:13 PM on December 26, 2010


keep a box of diapers on the sideline. if you think you're about to start a 3-hour shift and you haven't peed for a while, wrap a towel around your waist, strip under the towel, put on the diaper, and then put your shorts/pants back on.

you can do it. we're all rooting for you.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:19 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

i realize this is about what to eat, not what to wear. bananas. you'll want electrolytes for long periods of activity.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:20 PM on December 26, 2010

Pro tip: If you want to achieve individual victory don't throw balls until the very end.

As you can tell I am not a team player!
posted by srboisvert at 12:47 PM on December 26, 2010

If you really have to piss try to break an intense sweat.

Once water is in your bladder, there is no way to retrieve and excrete it any other way than pissing it. As my high school anatomy teacher used to warn us, "Once it's in the bladder, you can't get it back."
posted by hermitosis at 1:56 PM on December 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Personally, I'd go the whole time without solids foods.

Energy gel packs are quick and effective.
Zone bars/balance bars.
posted by zephyr_words at 2:41 PM on December 26, 2010

For long distance endurance events, I usually eat a ton of Gu's, Cliff Bars, bananas, peanut butter sandwiches, oranges, m&ms... I try and eat 200-300 calories an hour, while taking electrolytes as well, generally in the form of salt tablets ever hour or two. I drink a ton of coke... love that stuff, especially if you buy it in 2 liter containers and let it flatten out a bit. A lot of people like boiled potatoes dipped in salt, but I'll usually eat potato chips and pretzels as well. The key is to start eating immediately, so you don't fall behind and crash. I'm not sure how much the particular source of calories matters as long as your stomach can handle it. The best breakfast burrito I ever had was after 24 hours of running, so if you can bring a way to heat things up, it might be fun.

The whole "no bathroom breaks" thing is gonna be interesting -- uhhh... good luck with that? Keeping an eye on your electrolytes is gonna be key in handling that.
posted by ph00dz at 3:12 PM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would suggest gloves that protect your fingers and skin, and some sort of high-top shoe to protect your ankles.
posted by blueberry at 3:17 PM on December 26, 2010

I would so try not to poop at all during the 36 hours, and would choose slow-to-digest foods for that reason (the bananas/energy gel suggestions are spot-on in my book; snacks like beef jerky and so forth also rule).
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:46 PM on December 26, 2010

ph00dz, your regimen is great for high-exertion exercise kept up over many hours. Not sure you caught that these guys are not aiming for "performance" dodgeball, but that they'll play a soft, relaxed game ("We'll play at a very relaxed pace (the goal is endurance, not winning) so exertion is less of a concern"). And dodgeball ain't a triathalon, to begin with!

If they eat 7200 calories per day and pop salt tablets, there could be a serious problem. I hope the OP saves your advice for sometime when he's vigorously running or swimming or biking for 36 hours.
posted by Quisp Lover at 6:13 PM on December 26, 2010

Wow, that's a really different set of conditions than what I'm used to, so I'm not sure my experience will be that useful, but it sounds like a lot of fun for a great cause3! Every few years I get my crazy on and do a 24-hour offroad motorcycle race, sometimes on a team and once solo, and we've learned some things about doing something physical for an entire day. Based on that, here's what I'd suggest:

- Start *slow*. Pacing yourself in the beginning is the most important thing you can do in any endurance event. The alcohol might not be such a great idea, even if you're taking it slow.
- I would break every other hour in the beginning if you can, changing to hourly breaks as needed. As you get more and more tired, you'll want to break more often, and the long breaks will be more of a hindrance than a help because you'll start to fall asleep. Talk about it with everybody in advance.
- Bring a basic first aid kit (just in case!) and add moleskin, duct tape and maybe some anti-monkey butt powder or similar for the chafing. Use it as soon as you start to hot spot, or before if you know you will hot spot, rather than after.
- Have blankets available for people on the sideline. It's amazing how cold you can get at 0600 hours after you've been up for a day straight and your body really really doesn't like what you're doing to it.
- I like polypropylene socks for preventing blisters. Find them at REI or wherever backpackers frequent. Whatever you do, use it as much as you can before the event.
- Gloves would be an excellent thing to have, even if you don't wear them. Even mechanics gloves would probably be OK.
- I like things with peanut butter for snacks, but my experience is all in high-calorie-burn environments. Do try and have something hot at least twice. Maybe order out for pizza in the evening and donuts in the morning? Those are good incremental foods. Fruits are also great on the run and settle well.
- For the toilet logistics, maybe set aside three toilets as the sit-down toilets and make the other two urinals first and sit-downs second.
- If it were me, I'd have some Provigil (Modafinil) handy, but it's probably too late for you to order any and it might not be a good idea anyway if you don't have some experience with it.
- You'll probably be napping on your feet by the end.

When it gets dark, turn off the indoor lights and do a night round! Have everybody bring a headlamp, or flashlights. Maybe some theme rounds? Costumes might be cool. If you can have a sound system, maybe set up some rotating play lists, or have the round winners pick the next set, or something like that to keep people interested and engaged. If you need something to keep people awake, maybe have the ball-throwers shout out math problems and if the hit player can answer the problem, they get a pass. Or have rules be added dynamically by a vote; you could get some group-consensus Calvinball going on. It could be fun, or it could lead to a fistfight depending on your group...

I think my actual anecdata from the races would be largely inapplicable, given the difference in conditions, but it might be useful to know that everybody on the team was a zombie by the time the end came and we just wanted to be done, to the point where we just skipped the awards ceremony. Also, it'll depend on your start time and personal circadian clock, but 0300-sunup always seemed like the worst hours where everybody felt like crap and just wanted to be done. As soon as daylight hit, everything became more bearable again.
posted by hackwolf at 9:49 PM on December 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Can you schedule some visits from your beneficiary charity? At the Penn State dance marathon, one of the things that gets participants through the hours is visits from children who benefit. It's hard to quit when you see people who need your help.

On to practical matters. Take several changes of clothing. If something starts to chafe, remove it immediately. Trust this marathon runner, prevent blisters, hot spots and friction burns. There is no treatment that is better than prevention.

As far as nutrition goes, your stomach will likely get more sensitive as the event proceeds. Plan to have really bland stuff available toward the end of the event - bread, potatoes, cake. Those will give you lots of sugars, are easily digestible and arecunlikely to cause a tummy revolt.

Also, plan to have someone drive participants home. You'll be in no condition to safely maneuver a car.

Have fun!
posted by 26.2 at 12:06 AM on December 27, 2010

MeTa post. Congratulations!
posted by avocet at 10:44 AM on January 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help! I shared all of your info with my teammates, and we successfully roared across the 36hr finish line. We basically snacked on healthy food throughout the event, constantly keeping our energy up.

Thanks for the tip about going heavy on the protein to avoid having to go #2. I am usually filling myself with fibre and veggies, but that would have worked against me with small breaks, and minimal washrooms.

Thanks to all this advice, I cam out of this event with only a slight blister on one finger from throwing new balls(gloves are not permitted) and no voice (I get excited and scream too much). Other than that, I felt great, and had a nice work out the next day.

posted by ImBitman at 12:51 PM on January 13, 2011

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