Thursday, April 10, 2014

How to Fuel For Long Runs and Races

I've been running for a long time now.  Can I say that?  It's been almost 5 years.  Wow!  I've run 3 Marathons and 14 half marathons and I have never bonked during a race due to fuel (knock on wood).  It's the one thing I've figured out and it's what works FOR ME.  It may not work for you, but I thought I'd share anyway.   And guess what, I don't know the science behind how it works for me, but it works.  So if it ain't broke… 

Let's take a peek shall we?

I always start my long runs with a gatorade prime.   Gatorade prime has 25 grams of Carbs and 100 calories and it tastes good.  I like the fruit punch.  I feel like it's packed full of the carbs/electrolytes I need without a lot of fluid.  Who needs a bunch of fluid sloshing around in their belly while running?  Not me!  

I'll also try to have some peanut butter toast or a bagel with peanut butter to eat.  

Whole Grain Bagel from Panera and the Official Training Menu 
The combination of the Prime and the toast/bagel is usually enough to keep me going throughout a really long run.  I do get hungry, but that's only because I'm like a newborn and need fed every 3 hours not because I'm not properly fueled.  

During my long runs, I only use water and I probably don't drink enough, but that's just because I'm lazy.  I do use Gu Energy Gels.  I take a Gu every 4 to 5 miles or roughly every 50 minutes.  I use the Chocolate Outrage because I think it tastes like chocolate icing.  Ha! 

But let's talk about how I do things during races.  I stick to the same Gu schedule, "gu"ing every 5 miles or so.  I find the key to using energy gels is using them BEFORE you need them.  If you get to the point where you are feeling lethargic and like you need some extra energy, you've waited too long to fuel.  During halves I usually fuel at miles 4 and 8.5 to 9.  

I really don't think that Gu/food are the key to a really good race, however.  I definitely believe the key to a good race is in hydration.  That means BEFORE and during a race.  I spend the day before a big race focused on hydration.  I can't tell you exactly how much I drink, but I have water with me all day and if I decide to drink something else (like say a Diet Coke with dinner) I force myself to drink a glass of water for every other beverage I have.  It's easier just to stick with water!  

As for during the race, I think it's important to fuel at EVERY aid station.  Even if you just take a few sips at first, I think it's good to just start the habit and stick with it.  I usually grab water at the first aid station and then alternate between water and Gatorade/Energy Drink at every other aid station.  I'll also take two waters if I'm actually feeling thirsty.  

And don't forget the AFTER.  Usually when I finish up a run, I don't really have an appetite (for a little while anyway), but I know I need to replace some calories.  I'm so glad I experimented with the Panera Official Training Menu and discovered the low fat B Green Smoothie.  It's so refreshing and the perfect thing to hold me over until my stomach is really ready to eat.  

So there you have it.  And I just want to point out.  Let's just say I'm running 13.1 miles.  I can expect to burn about 1300 calories.  

Let's break it down: 

Peanut butter toast: 300 calories 
Gatorade Prime:  100 calories 
2 Gus:  200 calories 
Gatorade:  300 calories 
Smoothie:  200 calories 

Total:  1100 calories

This is why you don't lose weight running.  Just sayin!  


Kristy said...

Good idea with making yourself drink a water, for every non-water beverage that you consume!
That chocolate GU looks yummy!

Shaun Byrne said...

I have a huge problem with hydrating through long runs and races.. I don't like to carry water with me so i just don't drink any.. I can tell I need to start. I am a fan of that salted caramel gu, only problem is I can't find it in Pittsburgh

Maria Cashdollar said...

I can't believe I missed this one. I am going to give this a try and see if it works. Thanks.

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