No seriously, she linked to this article on Marathon Nutrition. Based on the chart in the article, I’ve been extremely under-fueled for just about every long run and marathon that I’ve ever done…
In the two or three-ish years that I’ve been running long-ish distances, I’ve never been loyal to one particular product, brand, nor fueling schedule (though if anyone’s looking to endorse me, I am, most certainly, a loyal person! Especially if you have espresso, chocolate, and/or vanilla flavored anything!). Generally, I don’t eat before I run any distance and if I do, it’s something like 100 calories of jellybeans or a rice cake… maybe two. Then, I’ll eat 100 calories of gel every 6-8 miles… if that.
This past Saturday, I consumed 300 calories before and during my 18 mile long run. According to Mister Chart, “light” carb intake would be 175 calories per hour, so I should have had something like 500 calories during the run, PLUS pre-run fuel. It’s hard to imagine more than doubling my calorie intake, but I can’t help wondering if my fueling habits are holding me back
from becoming the next Kara Goucher.
My immediate reaction was to email my coach (a.k.a. my dad) and inform him that I’m rethinking my fueling strategy and that I’m going to start experimenting with more calories during my long runs. I got the following response:
Meg – Save money by running faster! It only takes 4-1/2 gels to run a marathon at the 6:00 to 6:30 pace versus 8 gels at the 9:00 to 9:30 pace. But seriously, this looks like good advice. –Love, Dad
Gosh, I love my dad.
In the research I/we have done, the general consensus is to start refueling one hour into training
, to preserve glycogen and tap into the body’s fat stores. Oh, and I guess it’s kind of important to eat one hour prior to longer training runs
to stabilize energy levels and increase fuel efficiency (who woulda thunk). This awesome article
has all the deets if you’re hungry for more.
Lesson #1: I should be eating 200-250 calories one hour before running longer than 90 minutes. And Lesson #2: I should start refueling one hour into the run, aiming for 150-225 calories per hour.
I’ve been around the block when it comes to runner’s fuel. I’ve tried hydrating with Gatorade and G2, Cytomax, Nuun
, and most of the time, plain old water, which is my favorite since fruity flavors make me belchy. I’ve eaten Jelly Belly Sport Beans
, Clif Shot Bloks
, Gu Chomps
, regular jellybeans, and gummy fruit snacks. And I’ve sucked down a whole lotta gels: Gu Energy Gel
, Gu Roctane
, Clif Shots
, Hammer Gels
, and Chocolate Agave #9 Energy Gels
As for pre-run fuel, I’m always guzzling water and/or an electrolyte drink. I’ve tried eating a banana with peanut butter, an apple, oatmeal with dates, rice cakes with almond butter, Larabars, Sport Beans or Bloks, and most of the time, nothing (gasp!).
I still don’t have a clear vision of what exactly I’m going to start experimenting with (we have a ton of Gu packets and I might pick up some new products to sample at the AFC Half Marathon Expo tomorrow), but here’s my goal schedule:
- 1 hour before go-time: Eat 200-250 calories.
- Until go-time: Drink 16-24 ounces of water with an electrolyte.
- 1 hour into the run (and every hour after): Consume 150-225 calories.
- Hydration: Carry a 16 ounce water bottle with electrolytes to drink during the first hour (and avoid crowded aid stations at races), and continue to take a small drink at every mile (or aid station) from there.
*I usually stay away from the electrolyte drinks offered at races because I absolutely hate how sweet they are (Gatorade, Powerade, Accelerade, Cytomax, etc.) and some of them aren’t guaranteed to be gluten-free, so I’ve always stuck to water, water, water throughout long runs and marathons. So, one experiment will be to carry Nuun tablets with me and/or have Jared hand off a water bottle with Nuun late in a training run to see if it helps or makes any kind of a noticeable difference.
I sure hope this is worth it! And that I don’t gain a whole bunch of weight… or crap my pants or some poor neighbor’s lawn… And I sure hope I can find some fuel that I love (or can get for free, because, shoot, this stuff can be pricey!).
How do you fuel up for a long run or race?
What are your favorite products and flavors?