Nutrition and multi-day marathon swims

ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
edited February 2013 in General Discussion
While I am sure there is a thread posted for different approaches to marathon swimming nutrition, I am interested in learning from the forum members who are training/have completed multiple-day distances.

The nutritional intake I use during my marathon swims has worked well, however I could not imagine continuing to eat that for 1-2 days longer! What information can you provide on what works best for ultra-marathon distances? Thank you! Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.



  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    Been thinking about this myself! I always crave cheeseburgers towards the end of a swim, which indicates to me I'd need more protein to sustain for longer swims. but, beyond that? I know lots of people have done this, and would love to get some advice! @jamie and @chloemccardeldotcom
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    @ssthomas - Next swim you do, I would like to be on it so I can feed you cheeseburgers from the kayak :) One for you, one for me...
    Due to the fact that few people feel the need to swim for multiple days, I guess this thread has little attention, but hopefully we can create a spark at some point!
    ssthomas Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    @foreverswim: It's a deal. We're gonna need lots of cheeseburgers. How do you think pickles would go with a marathon swim?
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    ssthomas said:

    How do you think pickles would go with a marathon swim?

    If the water is hot, the salt in the pickes would help a lot. Pickle Juice has saved my ass on hot bike rides before.
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    @timsroot- I'd imagine the salt would be good in fresh water, probably not so much in the ocean! :-)
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    @ssthomas - Pickles = Heaven. I always get extra pickles when I order one! See, I knew we were great friends for a reason!!

    @timsroot - I would have zero desire to drink pickle juice while training, ha! Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • I managed to get pickle juice in my eye in China. Very unpleasant. The recommended cure was tea. I suspect that's the Chinese equivalent of the dad's Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    @foreverswim: Maybe we'd get more advice if we had @evmo rename this thread for us. Since we've generated some interest with pickles, perhaps 'Pickle Juice in Marathon Swimming' or something like that would generate more buzz?
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 2013
    Touché, @ssthomas! I suppose I deserved that :)
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    I was just teasing, just a little, @evmo. :-D
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    Boy, this thread lost its momentum-- nobody who has done the massive multi day swims wanted to revisit? :-)

    I know, probably in other threads.

    I know that going through research and such to get an idea of what to consume is out there, but often reliant on "engineered" foods which I often have problems with long term. Many artificial flavors trigger migraines, which is why I selected the foods and did for my Lake George swim. Also, I worried about lack of refrigeration and cooking, so I did try to work with the "fake foods" I found tolerable, mixed with some real foods that worked in training.

    Also, I wanted to maximize my ability to lose track of time on a swim, and do fewer feed stops-- which I still think would have been fine (as it was in the first half), as that is how I normally train. I was willing to enjoy the luxury of food on demand, unlike during training swims. My problem was that I was trying too hard to keep the stops short that I didn't consume enough at each. Had I taken 2 minutes to give myself time to manage a sandwich or something usual for me, I might have been better fueled at the end, which may have saved me time in the long (long long) run.

    Also, had my crew been more experienced, I'd have thrown up a few hours from the end. I didn't want to panic anyone, and I also didn't like the idea of trying that out for the first time during that swim. ;-)

    So, how to go forward with this? Hmmm... I'm not a speed demon, so while I might work up an appetite on a shorter "race" swim, I'm normally happy to go 5-7 miles before stopping for any reason-- if I'm in a pool, my bladder dictates. (FUN)

    Happy to share ideas! Got some?

  • SoloSolo B.C. CanadaMember

    Puking is just a skill.... I swim at a wave pool, and sometimes all the different motions messes with me. The guards all snicker when I haul out and run to the bathroom.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    Ah! This thread is such a blast from the past! I was such a baby marathon swimmer back then!

    I've had a lot of multi-day swims since Feb. 2013: Double Tahoe, Double Memphre, Lake Powell, and Lake Champlain.

    My opinion: If you're truly doing it "right" for 12 hour swims, that'll sustain you for days, too. I still take 98% Carbo Pro with either apple juice or electrolytes on the long swims. I found that mixing in just a little bit of protein into each feed keeps my cheeseburger cravings to a minimum. I've also found that somewhere around 30 hours or so, I do get tired of a lot of liquid sloshing around in my stomach, so some risotto (though, I think anything rice-based would work) seems to really go down nicely and make me feel full. I also like carrots for something crunchy. And cookies. I don't think that any of those items replace the carbo pro for getting my body what it needs, but I do think that having those things in my stomach helps me to just feel a little better and gives me a mental boost. Some variety after a day and a half is always a good thing.

  • ssthomas said:

    I've also found that somewhere around 30 hours or so,

    Am I the only one who, when they read this, laughed out loud at the fantastical notion of swimming for 30 hours stated as if one were taking a stroll through the park?

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    edited September 2017

    mamiller said:

    ssthomas said:

    I've also found that somewhere around 30 hours or so,

    Am I the only one who, when they read this, laughed out loud at the fantastical notion of swimming for 30 hours stated as if one were taking a stroll through the park?

    I actually think 30 hours is just the right amount of time to go swimming. You get to swim through a sunrise and sunset. You're sleep deprived, but not too badly. It hurts, but not a ton (if you've trained properly). And there is still enough energy left to eat cheeseburgers when you're done, before you get a wonderful night's sleep. I suggest you try it. :-)

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