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How to manage your run?
VINCENT, WHAT DO PIT-STOPS DURING RACES MEAN TO YOU?
"I'd say the pit-stop is a tactical operation than you have to prepare for intellectually before the race, during training (mainly, learning how to fill up your water bladder quickly). Pit-stops are important and if you make an error it's stressful because you've stopped but the clock is still going. You just have to say to yourself that what you're doing there is necessary for the race to continue positively, and the time that passes is time invested to enhance your performance."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE GOOD FOODS OR DRINKS TO TAKE ON THAT THAT MOMENT? IS LIQUID OR SOLID BETTER?
"I generally stick to refilling my water bladder (just enough to keep me going, depending on the distance to the next station and the temperature conditions). I always add the appropriate dose of energy powder to the water, to make the drink isotonic and mineral-rich, too. As to food, I tend to stick to my gels, which I'm particularly fond of (authentic nutrition). But the fuel I take on at pit-stops depends very much on the type of trail: classic or ultra. If it's an ultra-trail, solid food plays a big part and the longer stop gives you time to satisfy that need. You should think in advance about energy potential. A certain amount of starch is useful, try it out during training."
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU REST DURING A PIT-STOP?
"I call it a useful break. There is no absolute rule. The only rule is to stop for as long as you judge it necessary to fulfil your needs in that moment. To do that, you should pre-empt your pit-stop, by checking what there is to do at that aid station. In an ultra-trail, that might even include sleeping for 20 minutes, for example. You can't plan your pit-stops in detail before the race, though. Stay flexible and keep a clear head: these are the rules of thumb with pit-stops. So, to sum up: between zero seconds and two hours!"
HOW DO YOU MANAGE HUNGER PANGS DURING A RACE IF THE NEXT AID STATION IS TOO FAR AWAY?
"First of all, you should always, at every moment of the race, at least have a gel or some food in your bag! You should eat that, of course. At the same time, you have to bear in mind what's happening: hunger pangs are caused by a lack of sugar in the blood. Swallowing a gel or eating some food will allow you to put that right. To help regain your composure, you should slow down, or even stop! If it happens that you have nothing to eat whatsoever, you absolutely must ask for some food from a fellow competitor (who'll become your fair-weather friend), as your situation might be dangerous!"
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO TRAIL-RUNNERS?
"A pit stop is mainly important for taking on liquid, but also for the atmosphere and for meeting your fellow runners. Don't shy away from asking other runners for their advice; you're within your rights to ask for help. Beware of taking food at random, or of food you're not used to eating. The best thing is to test out the kinds of foods you're going to take on during the race when training. And don't forget that not everything on an aid-station table is good for you: be careful in particular of fresh fruit. Your favourite race organiser isn't necessarily a sports nutritionist! Whatever the case, though, the table has been laid out several times over to make the race sweeter, so make the most of it!"