Eat and Swim

Neil Mapes
6 min readJun 14, 2021

An ode to Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

I first read Scott Jurek’s book “Eat and Run — my unlikely journey to ultramarathon greatness” when I was preparing for the London to Brighton 100 kilometre race. I was experimenting with alternatives to energy gels for fuel to keep me going for up to 20 hours of non-stop-walking. The inspirational back story to Scott’s early life and dominance of some of the toughest long-distance running events was fabulous but just as insightful were his recipes and approach to eating for ultra marathons. His natural, vegan approach to eating proper food before, during and after a run was a revelation and a genuinely fresh take for me after years of awful, sticky energy gels packaged in single-use plastic. In Eat and Run, Scott shares 25 different wholesome and effective running recipes, one of which — the Kalamata trail wrap — I used to get me through my long-distance event. It was great to eat real food on the run for a change with one hummus and olive wrap every hour. I am now signed up for a long-distance swim, a 10K this summer, the equivalent of a marathon. I started looking at eating and swimming and chatting to a few fellow swimmers who asked for an article on the subject. It is important to say that I am not a medical professional or nutritionist and you should always follow medical advice, or as the Scottish say, “Don’t be daft”. Food and diet are very personal matters and individual preferences vary greatly but here are some general pointers and advice, some of which are cross-overs from ultra running and an ode to Scott’s approach to fuelling.

Before the swim

It is important you have enough fuel in your system. There is a lot of misinformation about how long to wait after eating before swimming. There are concerns that swimming with a full stomach can lead to vomiting, cramps and worse. Clearly eating a full roast dinner and going for a swim with a bulging stomach is likely to be uncomfortable rather than dangerous, but eating smaller items that are more easily digestible is fine. Indeed many elite swimmers, like other sportspeople, consume food directly before swimming. There may be times when you want to swim on an empty stomach for the calorie burn benefits. For example, swimming first thing in the morning before breakfast will give you the immediate calorie burn from the session but you will go on to burn more…

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Neil Mapes

Beach wanderer, sea swimmer, trail runner and charity leader. Loving life in the Highlands of Scotland.