Knowing how to fuel for long runs takes a lot of trial and error. Fuel is important because when you are running or working out you burn a lot of calories and need more in order to keep your body going.
For a long run, it is important to take in some sort of fuel before and usually during. I personally though, cannot run with much food or liquid in my stomach. 1) I tend to pee a lot, so too much water and Gatorade just goes straight to my bladder. 2) Running has a very cleansing effect on my digestive system (if you know what I mean) so too much food + running = emergency bathroom stops.
So what do I do? First, in the morning of a long run – both training and races – I have a banana with sunflower seed butter and a few sips of Gatorade. This combo works for me. It gives me a sugar boost to get me going, and it’s not too heavy on my stomach. I eat it 1-2 hours before my run. I always bring a bottle of water to sip – not chug – on the way to my running spot.
The general rule is to consume 150-200 calories per hour. I don’t like running with water bottles, so I prefer to bring my fuel in the form of energy chews or gels.
My favorite and most portable method of fuel are Gu gels. They come in all kinds of flavors, easy to open and fit into the pockets of my capris. I think they taste pretty good, especially the vanilla bean flavor.
Other options include energy chews, sports beans or even candy. Whatever is easily to carry and gives you calories.
On my last long run, I had a Gu gel at mile 5 and a pack of Sports Beans at mile 8. Combined, that was 200 calories for a about one and a half hour’s worth of running.
After a long run, I always have Gatorade or coconut water and regular water to rehydrate and replace electrolytes and calories.
The night before races, I do not set out to carbo load. I do not like weighing myself down so I feel super full just hours before I have to run. I eat a pretty bland and neutral diet the day before a race so my stomach doesn’t have any issues. Race day jitters give me enough problems. My pre-race dinner is usually pasta, pizza or eggs and toast.
I do not recommend eating something that your body isn’t used to the day before a race, ie frozen yogurt when you haven’t eaten dairy in months. You will get a stomach ache and it will suck.
Usually during half marathons, there is a fuel station at the half way mark where volunteers give our gels, or beans. I make sure I take one and eat it all because I know I will need to calories down the road. I also try to drink water and Gatorade at every water stop even if I’m not thirsty. This is something that I need to get better at because my body definitely needs it during the last few miles.
My race this weekend does not appear to have fuel station, just water stops. So I will bring a couple of Gu gels with me, just to be on the safe side. Sometimes I feel hypoglycemic on my long runs and I definitely don’t want that feeling during a race.
So that’s how I fuel up…Again, this has taken a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for me. I totally recommend experimenting with different types and amounts of food/drink in order to get the combo right.
And definitely pick a trail that has bathrooms or porta potties. Runners trots are super common, especially on a full stomach. You don’t wanna pull a Lillian from Bridesmaids and have to poop in the middle of the street…
How do you fuel for a race or long run?
Have a fab one! 🙂