Fueling Up for Long Runs

One of the key parts of marathon training is figuring out what works for you during runs and what doesn’t. This goes for everything from shoes, to gear, to hydration and finally, to fueling. I’m still trying to figure out the best fueling strategy for me, and while every runner is different, I decided to seek some advice from my followers on Twitter. Here’s what they had to say! – H.M.
  1. Any other fuel suggestions for long runs? #runchat #marathontraining http://pic.twitter.com/LUQMD8mfKt
  2. Question for runners for my blog: What’s your favorite long-run fuel? #runchat
  3. “@FitHappyGirl: Question for runners for my blog: What’s your favorite long-run fuel? #runchat” sandwich! :)
  4. @FitHappyGirl water and Gu and sometimes jelly beans. Everything else hurt my stomach even Gatorade
  5. “@FitHappyGirl: Question for runners for my blog: What’s your favorite long-run fuel? #runchat”WE ARE GU PEOPLE!
  6. @FitHappyGirl starburst!! Or mint chocolate gu. But really… Starburst :)
  7. @FitHappyGirl at the Vanguard Way 65 Ultra @Helen_10pt and I fuelled ourselves on sausages & cheese. Yum! LSD is fat burning pace…
  8. @fithappygirl gu chomps and sports beans. Basically I want to be eating candy.
  9. @FitHappyGirl Strawberry Banana PowerBar Gel! Not as thick as other gels. Tastes like melted fruit snacks!
  10. @FitHappyGirl pre: loaded oatmeal. During: Clif shots and Gatorade
  11. @FitHappyGirl Peanut butter sandwich crackers. I generally have 1-6 of ’em stashed on my person at all times, long run or not.
  12. @FitHappyGirl honey stinger pink lemonade chews or peeled brand unsweetened dried cherries

17 thoughts on “Fueling Up for Long Runs

  1. I have had great success with Power Bar gels! I sometimes have GI issues but find that these are easy on my stomach and the best thing is they are more liquid than gel like the Gu is. I hope you find what works well for you!

  2. Oh god please do not try to put fat into your stomach on a long run!!!! DON’T DO IT! Long distance burns STORED fat, not fat coming in. It will take a long time to digest, sit in your stomach, and probably make you feel like crap. Literal crap. If you are tempted to experiment, however, let me know how it goes.

    I’m not really all that picky, but i do love shot bloks and all sorts of gu have worked in the past. One run when I was home for a quick stay and forgot to bring anything, i found some stale gummi bears in the junk drawer that had to suffice, but I definitely prefer something intended for the purpose. In my cheapness, I have seriously considered taking handfuls of honey packets from Cumby’s but unfortunately we don’t have Cumberland Farms in Louisiana. Bummer.

  3. @Lauren – really? Fat has a greater calorie content that carbs (4kcal per gram as appose to 3kcal). So in practice it is a better source of fuel than carbs. The downside, as your rightly allude to is that it isnt as easily digested as carbs. The thing about the long run is (assuming you pace it right, natch) that you are operating at a fat burning pace and an intensity that allows one’s body to digest fat and carbs. I’d ask the question whether you even need those carbs…we all have plenty of fat stores (even elite athletes)

    My experience as a coach and ultra runner is that too often athletes pace poorly (they run too fast), rely on carbs (in excess of what can be handled by the gut) and then end up with GI distress. Learn to pace properly, use one’s fat stores and you need very little carb intake. Don’t be suckered into the marketing hype.

    Check out an ultra marathon feed station sometime. I bet you there is a whole load of fatty stuff on that table alongside the gels and energy drink. If you train your body right its amazing what it can use as fuel and I can tell you it isnt a whole load of processed sugary junk that is sold to you by sports nutrition companies.

    • James, thanks so much for your comments! I totally hear you about ultra feed stations, those guys know how to fuel! While I do agree people tend to over-fuel and the body is pretty self-sustaining, I sometimes have the problem of under-fueling, which can lead to tons of other issues. I like my fuel to be as clean as possible and would rather have real food than processed gels but for me at least, I’ve found gels are really helpful during long runs. I usually only have one, maybe two if it’s 18+ miles but I find that I definitely need some sort of fuel on long runs.

  4. I have pretty rough GI issues on a normal day, so race day is incredibly crucial to make sure i get the right stuff in my belly. I found out (the hard way, during my first 1/2 marathon) what makes me REALLY sick, so the only things I stick to now are Nuun hydration tabs for pre-, during and post-race/run, and Honey Stinger gels for fuel during a long race. Afterwards, I like bananas, pb&j’s and pretzels.

    • Uf, so sorry to hear about your GI issues, that’s definitely not fun. I LOVE Nuun hydration too! I actually prefer it to Gatorade because it’s not as syrupy. Pretzels are also one of my post-race favorites! :)

      • That’s exactly why I love Nuun! Gatorade is so syrupy thick and so mug sugar that is absolutely wrecks my stomach. Nuun has been fabulous to me!

  5. GU is my preferred fuel. For my last race a took along a bagel and took bites every now and then. I still had my GUs but I think the bagel helped.
    For one marathon I took 2 large Snickers bars. Tons of sugar but probably not the best thing to eat. My stomach felt fine and I ran the race I planned to run that day.
    I think the real test of any running food is, are you able to run the race you planned on. If you run out of energy or if the food makes you sick it’s not right for you. But if you can keep your energy level up, not get sick and finish the race near your goal time then what ever food you tried is something you can stick with.
    A lot of this is trial and error whether it is food or running shoes.

  6. Reblogged this on Meghan's Blog and commented:
    I found this great article about fueling up for long runs and thought it was a cool article for those of you who like me are training for half marathons or doing long distance running. Various runners providing their input on their favorite ways to get fuel. It’s neat to see how many different options there are and how everyone is different. Check out some suggested fuels and try them out. There is something right for everyone. Let me know what you find works for you!

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