This past training iteration was the hardest I have run so far as I prepared for my first 100 mile ultra. As we know by now, the training went great but I ended the race at 100K (62 miles) instead of my100 mile goal due to nausea caused by slight dehydration on a very hot day. Many people have asked me if I did anything different as I trained for the ultra, so I am writing this review on one item I have come to love.
Aside from running many more miles and other obvious things to go along with that (ice baths, protein, hydration, gels, food, more food) I also started using Udo’s Oil. I originally heard about it while reading UltraRunning magazine. On the inside cover was an ad where a famous ultra runner claimed the oil reduced recovery for him by 1/3. WOW!!! A full third is HUGE!!!
In the ad there was an 800 number to call for a free sample, so I called. Couldn’t hurt to try something free, right?
The free sample was actually a pretty large sized bottle, and arrived in only a few days. On the bottle it was recommended that I ingest 1 tablespoon per day, with a meal, so I tried a few different ways of eating it. I tried on a salad, and with orange juice, and then with tomato juice which I decided would be the way to do it from then on because it really enhanced the flavor of the juice. The oil is exactly that, oil. (like olive oil) It has a nutty flavor yet is very mild and easy to eat. I mix it with about 4 ounces of Campbells tomato juice and drink, generally prior to a meal.
At the time I started eating it I was running around 30 to 40 miles per week, and was doing ice baths after long runs as well as icing as needed. After about a week or two I noticed a definite energy level increase, and my miles per week were also starting to go up into the 50 range. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I also had much less soreness after long runs. I even felt so good I had stopped taking ice baths. This was not intentional and I did not even notice I had stopped the ice baths. I simply didn’t feel the need for them, so I skipped them, but did continue the occasional ice packs as needed around my knee joints.
The sample bottle of oil ran out, so I went to my local vitamin store and purchased another larger bottle. Wow, it seemed expensive compared to the bottle of olive oil you buy at the market. I almost didn’t buy it, but decided that since the first bottle was free and seemed to help a little I would buy one to continue growing my miles and determine if the oil really helped.
It was almost magical how I was running more miles than I had ever run in my life, running more days per week than previous training iterations, and I was actually doing less for recovery than at lower miles in the past. I was riding high and felt like superman as I continued pushing higher and higher in my training. Every day I would wake in the morning feeling fresh and ready for the next run, as if I had not run the day prior at all, at 70 – 80 miles per week! It hadn’t dawned on me how much the oil was helping. However, 3 or 4 weeks later as my mileage started hitting 80+ per week I ran out of the oil, and decided to save money and not get more. I was feeling great, and training was going very well.
Well, let me tell you. About 2 weeks after running out of the oil I was not recovering from the previous days runs in time for another run. I had to start the ice baths again no matter how long the run was, and still had to keep ice on my knees a few times each day. My energy levels were down, I mean way down, and I was starting to doubt my ability in a very serious way.
It was then I realized the ONLY change was the oil. My diet was the same. I was running the same. I was maintaining my nutrition the same. So perhaps it was the oil making such a HUGE difference. I immediately went to the vitamin store and purchased another bottle. I was only a couple of weeks away from a race, and I didn’t want to take any chances.
TAKEAWAY: So, I believe that Udo’s oil really made a difference in my training. While I cannot really put a solid number to how it improved my recover, I would say that 1/3 less time sounds realistic. This past training iteration was extreme as my miles got above 90 over a 25 week period. Plus I ran out of the oil just before running my “peak” week of 92 miles, so it is hard to say if the lack of oil or the 92 miles was the cause of my fatigue. (I think it was a little of both, leading to the perfect storm.) I would recommend the oil to anyone, but due to the cost I would say to use it from mid-training iteration up to race day.