i’ve had a lot of people ask me about the specifics of fueling during a run- exactly what do i do? well, whether or not i end up doing what i’m supposed to, i always have a plan.
it’s always good to have a plan. you’re more likely to do what you’re supposed to do if you have it thought out, especially if it’s a long run or race. the last thing you want to do is worry about when or if you should eat or drink. when keith did his first 70.3 (half ironman), i wrote his fueling schedule on his arm in permanent marker. this worked well because it was already thought out and he was able to follow along rather than stress about what he should be doing.
obviously, everyone is different and every day is different so you always have to listen to your body. with that being said, have a game plan and tweak it as necessary.
if i’m running 6 miles or less, i typically don’t do anything for fueling- water or food. this may not work for everyone though. i drink water and only water all of the time so i stay pretty hydrated. my body is able to work pretty hard for about an hour before needing anything specific. do not let this keep you from drinking water though. if you think you need it on shorter runs, then, by all means, drink it.
let’s talk specific runs. i’ll give you some scenarios that work for me. REMEMBER, we’re all different so don’t take this as law but try to learn from it and figure out your rhyme or reason for fueling on runs.
9 miles: i will drink a sip or 2 of water every 10 minutes, starting at the first 10 minute mark. one good gulp is usually enough to wet your palate, cool your body, and not swish around. knowing that i will be running for 90 minutes or so, i will start eating something around mile 4. i usually take a mile to eat a full serving of whatever it is (for me, either gu chomps or sport beans). so, by mile 5, i’ve had continuous fluid and approximately 90 – 100 calories. keep in mind, you’ll want between 100 and 250 calories per hour- this will depend on your size and your ability to burn calories. i will continue to sip every 10 minutes. around mile 7 or 7.5 i will have another serving or 1/2 serving of either chomps or beans.
* look at the serving sizes on your gu, beans, chomps, etc- it may not be 1 serving per item (chomps are 2 servings per bag)
* if you’re running with a sports drink, follow the same rules as far as hydration HOWEVER, you will want to wash down any sports gels, etc with water. the carb mixture of the sports drink along with the sports gels is typically too much for the body to properly absorb. if you’re running with sports drinks during the race, use the water stations to get water to wash down your sports gels.
half marathon: drink water every 10 minutes; gu chomps (2=1/2 serving) at mile 4 and 2 (1/2 serving) at mile 5. mile 8 – 9 sports beans, mile 11- gu chomps – 1/2 – 1 serving, depending on how i feel
* this is only 280 calories for the entire 13 miles- approximately 1300 calories burned
* you can take in more than this but i would NOT take in less
try to play with a schedule like this on your next few long runs to see how you feel. you will eventually find what works for you.
the most important thing for you to remember is FUEL YOUR BODY BEFORE IT NEEDS IT! no, you don’t need fuel at mile 4 but you DO need it at mile 6 (on longer runs) so you will need to take it and give your body time to process it. if you wait until you are hungry, thirsty, or fatigued to try to do something about it, you have waited too long. it is almost impossible to make up the deficits caused by improper fueling.
questions?! what works for you?