The new book by Kilian Jornet, Run or Die, gives up the fascinating nitty gritty of exactly how he runs so fast, so long. From his calorie consumption alone, it’s clear this is no ordinary 25-year-old guy.
The Spanish 120-pound, five-foot-six Jornet is one of the most successful ultramarathoners around, a first-place finisher of the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run and a three three-time champion of the tough Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. The book chronicles the emotional toll of winning and losing major international competitions, while presenting a moving story arc about a lost love. It’s an exciting read for anyone interested in the extreme edge of endurance running.
But we raided Run or Die for a glimpse into what someone eats to, say, cruise 60 miles per day for eight days straight. It is striking. Jornet has said that “normal food is not a problem” and that eating too many gels upset his stomach.
We humbly offer you the Kilian Jornet meal plan, culled from highlighter marks of an early review copy:
THE RUN: The 2010 Sierre-Zinal race, a 19.3-mile mountain course over five 13,000-foot Swiss peaks. Jornet won in 2:35:30.
THE GRUB: In the early miles, Jornet downs “a small plate of macaroni dressed with oil and salt.” Deep into the race, he consumes “a large plateful of gnocchi.” A pick-me-up during the course entails “cookies soaked in tea.” Before the race, he eats a breakfast of “a slice of energy cake. . . .“ (Judging from his web site, this must mean Gatosport Energy Cakes from Overstims (in 17 flavors!)
THE RUN: Crossing the Pyrenees Mountains in a 2010 record trek. Jornet ran 530 miles in just eight days, climbing over 130,000 feet in the process.
THE GRUB: During the second day of the trek: “Two wonderful rolls filled with tomato, ham and goat cheese . . . cookies and energy bars are the desserts to round out our meal.” Next, “gel and energy drinks.” And the list goes on: another roll filled with goat cheese and mountain ham, an omelet roll, and breakfast of cereal and bread and jam, another roll at midday, and a plate of pasta for dinner. After the run, during training weeks: “The first thing I’d do was grab a jar of Nutella and devour it, spoonful after spoonful . . “ And so we’re clear, a jar of Nutella contains 2,000 calories.
THE RUN: The 2010 Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile race through California's Sierra Nevada Mountains with a climb of 18,000 feet.
THE GRUB: What’s surprising about this race is what Jornet says it taught him about hydration. In European races, cooler temps allow him to drink and eat only at water stops and carry little on his person. At Western States, he notices Anton Krupicka and others carrying water bottles in both hands, and remarked on how strange it looked to him. But he gets dehydrated toward the end of this race, and at one point in the extreme heat, weighs in dangerously close to the cutoff of 10 percent body weight loss (putting him, apparently, near 110 pounds.) The next year, he tried the double-fisted hydration approach and won.
THE RUN: The record-setting 2010 climb and descent of the 19,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in 7-hours and 14 minutes. At one point, he climbs 10,000 over three hours.
THE GRUB: Pre-run dinner the night before: “Bowls of cream carrot soup and huge plates of pasta, which I have a hard time finishing . . . Simon’s [his running partner] six-foot-five frame and my five foot six frame need quite different amounts.” “Breakfast on pancakes washed down with cups of tea.” “Energy gels every hour” during the race as well as “cookies.” (By this, we’re assuming he means some kind of healthy cookie, not double-stuff Oreos.)
Run or Die, by Kilian Jornet, $16.95, Velo Press