Dave Mackey – A chat with Ultrarunner of the Year

featured image March 12, 2012

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Ultra Runner of the Year Dave Mackey discusses his training, Hoka shoes and his race day fueling. All we need now are his legs, heart, lungs and will-power. Dave also discusses balance as he juggles family, graduate school and training! Rumor has it several trail runners have spotted Dave’s moisture wicking cape that he tucks beneath his shirt.

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  • Andy Rhine

    Kinda disappointed that all of the podcasts lately seem to turn in to infomercials for some product.

    Really hoped to hear more about Dave not some nutrition product for over half the podcast.

    Andy

    • Don Freeman

      Thanks Andy for your feed back. We are sensitive to staying away from an infomercial podcast.

      The purpose behind this podcast was to learn more about the experience that Dave has gained from Vitargo and Hoka. I am always looking for something new to help improve my experience on the trail. If there is something that is effective we want to talk about it. We do not have a financial relationship with any product or vendor.

      Thanks for your comments.

  • Tim Smith

    There was a good bit of product discussion in this one, but do keep in mind that a decent part of our audience have little to no experience with most trail gear or products out there, so these discussions are useful in their search for what may work for them. Especially coming from competitive leaders of the sport.

    We will definitely take note of your (and surely others) concern though, and adjust accordingly.

  • Wendy S.

    I think Dave has inflated the number of calories per hour he or anyone can take of Vitargo. Faith did catch him in error by a factor of 2 as to the caloric value of 1 scoop.

    1000 calories per hour would be over 7 scoops per hour. And for those of you who have not seen a Vitargo scoop, they are huge sized scoops! You just can’t dissolve that much into 20 to 32 ounces of water and still have a drinkable solution.

    Vitargo recommends 2 scoops (280 calories) per 20 to 24 ounce bottle – a reasonable hourly refuel and rehydrate plan.

    It is also my experience that a Vitargo solution does setup or separate overnight and it is best to mix it right before your run or race.

    Trying to create a gel out of Vitargo and putting it in a gel flask is a bit tricky. First off, you can’t create a Vitargo solution as caloric dense as standard gels. So a gel flask of Vitargo mixed so it is still squeezable contains less calories than other gels. Secondly, a thick gel mix of Vitargo tends to solidify fairly quickly and then you just can’t get it out of the gel flask.

    I’ve experimented with mixing it up in a paste and allowing it to solidify in an ice cube tray overnight (no need to freeze). You end up with chewy little bars of Vitargo.

    • Tim Smith

      Good points Wendy. Thanks for the feedback.

      I’ve yet to try Vitargo – it is actually new to my ears. I am still training/racing with Perpetueum, while most other locals seem to use Heed or Carbo Pro. There are many options out there, which is why conversation like this on the possibilities are crucial to a new runner.

    • Scott Warr

      Great points Wendy. I tried to make 3 gel bottles worth for last weekend’s run by mixing them in a blender the night before. When I was out on the trail, we noticed that the bottles wouldn’t squeeze; and the gel had solidified! It took me 45 minutes to get the bottles clean! I think I may have put too many scoops in – my next attempt will be to mix lighter:)

    • james wilie

      hey wendy, I had the same experience you had in finding the right mix to fuel. thus, i can only stomach one 20oz bottle with 2 scoops (280 cal) per hour. i tried 4 scoops/20oz/hour, but it is just too thick or fueling more (i couldn’t stomach that much volume). so, i used 2 scoops/20oz bottle per hour and if i can stomach, 1 gu per hour. i used this combination in a solo 50km (spec test). i don’t know the biology of it, but was going for how i felt the last 3 miles (generally a good indicator of fueling). surprised to say, i had a “kick” at the end. i reduced by pr time by exactly 30 minutes to a sub-5 finish. please note, i have been training hard so that is a factor, but again, i was determining how i would feel the last 3 miles (felt great). also, i’m not too hip on the sucralose they add to make it sweeter. i have heard they are coming out with a “natural sweetener with zero calories” (is there such a thing?). well, i can always use the unsweetened/unflavored version…still to be continued…this weekend’s run.

  • Lisa Gunnoe

    I’m going to go back and see if the other Vitargo at GNC does/doesn’t have a barley product in it.
    If it doesn’t I will get it, give it a try over this next training cycle and see how it goes.

    I do appreciate the product discussion today. I’m glad it isn’t every podcast though, I think it is a good balance. We now have a real idea of one’s experience using these products.

    Does anyone know if now Dave is using the road Hoka instead of the trail. He said he wasn’t thrilled with the trail Hoka when it first came out. I found it interesting that these were first designed for descending mountains! Wow!
    I do have the road Hoka, I used it during my last marathon. I like them.
    I’m going way the other way with trails and using Altra Lone Peak (trail shoes). I’m wondering about using the Hoka on the trail, how can one get a good grip in that much cushion?

    blab, blab, blab, going to bed now.

    Thanks for another great podcast.

    Oh as for the calories in Vitargo, remember he doesn’t mix it as on the label, he makes a gel/goo type substance.

    Night Nation.

  • Dave

    I mix the Vitargo to a gel with a small blender. It takes some practice but once you figure it out, it isn’t an issue. A large blender will work too. You have to do it the night before the race or it will set up. If on the trail and you have gumming issues, just take a swig of water and spit it into the gel flask and shake. This will release anything that has slightly congealed.

    Admittedly there are a few more logistics to racing with Vitargo, but that is how it goes in making your own gels from any product you buy to make your own.

    Yes the interview was about the product alot.. sorry about that! I was following the question line for sure but I am truly enthusiastic about the stuff that directly helps my racing. I pick and choose sponsors based on performance and they truly have helped my race better.

    RE Hoka.. the Bondi B is my race and training shoe of choice.. I train in the Mafate too and will incorporate the Stinson EVO as well.

  • Dave

    Re: gel making.. I will try to post a video soon about how to make it from Vitargo..

  • Lisa Gunnoe

    Dave, Bondi B for trails? how does the tread take the rocks? I asked this question on your blog, so if you answer it here just ignore or delete it there 🙂

    What was the name to google to find the recipe for ones own super-fuel? I’m finding that I can’t get Vitargo without barley gluten locally. On the GENR8 web site they show 2 labels, Grape and Unflavored, and those say gluten free. In GNC they have orange, and it has gluten. On GNC’s web site all are listed with gluten. I’m thinking I might need to make my own.

    Thank you for your interview. It was great!!! and thank you for answering the questions about these products. It was great to get an opinion from someone who is successfully using these products.

    Happy Running,
    Lisa

  • Lisa Gunnoe

    I ran on the trail with my Hoka Bondi B today. My ankle was sore, and no energy from a long week at work, so didn’t want to use my minimal shoes. The Hoka’s performed PERFECTLY!!! This race channels one’s inner mountain goat. these shoes didn’t skip a beat. I never once felt like I wasn’t in control, loved the traction and the performance! Finished on fresh legs (11 mile race). I’m impressed!!!

    Can get Vitargo at amazon.com too.

  • Don Freeman

    Vitargo report: Scott, Faith and I have purchased the three flavors. Tropical Punch, Orange and Plain (if plain is a flavor).
    1. LIke Dave recommends I would absolutely mix flavor with plain for an improved taste.
    2. My wife ran her first 50K using Vitargo without practicing with it. (I encouraged her to break the first rule of trail running to try something new on race day) She had an execellent experience consuming 5 20 oz bottles with 2 scoops each and 3 gel flasks of gu style mix per Dave Mackey.
    3. Mixing with a blender is BEST!
    4. I ran long with 70 oz bladder containing 7 scoops and 2 gel flasks. I experienced no stomach distress and could have drank more if I had it with me. I had a great deal of endurance deep in the run on the steep hills. My only question is how am I going to eat 700 – 1000 per hour ? I can learn if my stomach can handle it.

    • Andrew

      Don’t beat yourself up over trying to reach 1000 calories per hour, Don.

      Ingesting 1000 calories per hour while running hard is unrealistic for most of us mere mortals.

      Remember, Faith had to correct Dave in the number of calories he thought was in one scoop. Dave’s misunderstanding of how many calories are in a single scoop likely made his stated values of calories per hour twice what they actually are.

      Dave has made other public comments making the same erroneous claim of 280 calories per scoop and 1000 calories per hour. One example is on the blog runningstupid.libsyn.com. Unfortunately in this podcast, the interviewer did not have the knowledge and quickness that Faith had in correcting Dave.

      So take Dave’s numbers of 500 to 1000 calories per hour and divide them by 2 and you get a more human (and correct) 250 to 500 calories per hour or 2 to 4 scoops of Vitargo per hour.

      Don, your 7 scoops (1000 calories) per a 70oz bladder is perfect for a drinkable caloric dense mix for a 2 to 4 hour run.

      I use the plain Vitargo to avoid the artificial sweetener in the flavored versions. But plain does taste like paste and requires a bit getting used to.

      For those of you that want to avoid the negative side effects of artificial sweeteners but can’t stomach the paste taste of plain, you can try mixing in a little juice concentrate. Or mix in a naturally flavored powdered concentrate electrolyte drink like OLA LOA Sport.

  • I used it on my longer training run yesterday and I started with a 20oz bottle in which I used 1.5 scoops mixed in a shaker bottle about an hour before the run. I carried 2 scoops in a zip lock bag and added them at the two aid stations along the way. So I divided 2 scoops among two refills (essentially 1 scoop/20 oz bottle), and still experienced the vitargo “kick”. I was powering up a section of trail I usually find very challenging and was surprised. Initially I found my first bottle taste rather overwhelming so I was excited when I got to dilute the mix at the first aid station. It will clump so what I found worked best while “on the go” is to put water in the bottle, add a little mix, shake, then add more water, more mix, then shake. Not filling the bottle to the brim with water offers the natural shake/mix through general running motion. I will be using this product in my upcoming race. Be careful, although this product offers significant calories, make sure to eat solids along the way! Happy trails!

  • Lisa Gunnoe

    After seeing three different labels for vitargo I called Genr8 to find out about this gluten thing.
    One label says gluten from barley
    One label says gluten free
    One label says gluten free then lists a lab.

    I asked him why and what I can count on. Apparently Genr8 formulated Vitargo and labeled and marketed it before it was tested to be gluten free. So what we are seeing out there with questionable gluten status is from the old labels. They haven’t changed the formula so even those with the old labels can be used with confidence by those of us who are gluten free.

    I ordered an Orange to go with my unflavored 🙂 Happy Running!

  • Mtnsummit aka John

    Don – you mentioned putting it in a bladder – how hard is that to clean after a run? Also, how to measure your intake if trying to hit a hourly amount of fluid while using a bladder? I ask because I have resorted to using gel flasks to measure my hourly calorie intake ( I have used CarboPro ) of calories during long runs and racing. I trained with and used the CarboPro for my first 50 miler this past February. But am always looking for some better calorie source (but cannot stand sweet gu’s etc..) The CarboPro is tasteless and is really the reason I started trying it. Since they make Vitargo in plain, I might try, although sounds problematic with how many describe the mixing problems.

  • Eli Kirkland

    Anybody know what the song is at the end of the podcast?

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