• Fuel for the Long Run

    October 11, 2010

    Good morning and happy Columbus Day! :mrgreen:

    I had planned to write about fueling for my 10-mile run last Saturday, but my Clif Shot fell out of my pocket somewhere on the first 5 miles. Wicked bummer. I ended up drinking some Gatorade and finishing without feeling too fatigued. Although, by the end, I was definitely starting to lose steam. I could see how some sort of fuel would have helped give me energy for the final miles.


    Last Saturday, our Team In Training coach, Christina, discussed fueling during the race and on long runs. Our 10-mile training run had all of us (even Mal) out on the course for more than an hour, so she suggested that we take in some calories during the run.

    As a general rule of thumb, Christina said that we should aim to consume 150-200 calories per hour. Meaning, every 45 minutes or so, we should eat/drink calories.

    Here are some of the fuel possibilities that she suggested:

    • Gu (very thick, each packet is around 100 calories, many different flavors, some contain caffeine)
    • Shot Blocks (square gummy blocks, 100 calories per 3 blocks, many different flavors, some contain caffeine)
    • Chomps (similar to shot blocks, but come in different flavors)
    • Hammer gel (same as Gu)
    • Hard candies (such as Jolly Ranchers, Werther’s, etc., suck on them for instant sugar)
    • Mini Snickers
    • Pretzels
    • Jelly beans (basic jelly beans with electrolytes)
    • Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish, etc. (any gummy candy that will give you some quick calories)

    Christina further explained that because we will expend so much energy during the marathon, we want to make sure we have continuous energy so we don’t “hit the wall.” Supplying ourselves with quick calories (those that do not need to be digested, but can enter the blood stream immediately) will keep us going.

    Our main goal in the coming weeks is to practice and learn what will work for us on race day. Christina suggested buying some different products, trying them on our long runs, and seeing how we react to them.Β Is the taste good while running? How is the consistency in your mouth? Does it settle well? Am I going to want to eat this after 3 hours of running? Energy gels, for instance, sometimes make me gag when I take them, so I’m planning to experiment with Shot Blocks, Chomps, and other non-gel products. Basically, now is the time to make mistakes and adjust as needed.

    Christina also mentioned that we should get calories into our system within 30 minutes after a long run to help replenish our muscles. She suggested recovery powders, trail mix, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, smoothie, etc.

    The other day, I stumbled upon a great article from Active.com that has more info about how to Fuel for Your Workout. It discusses what and when you should eat before, during, and after exercise. I found it helpful.


    Speaking of fuel…

    I enjoyed a wonderful bowl of pumpkin oatmeal for breakfast this morning. In the mix: old-fashioned oats, spelt flakes, ground flaxseed meal, canned pumpkin, soy milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, raisins, and peanut butter. It was very pumpkin pie-like! Mmm! πŸ˜€


    I also enjoyed some Birthday Cake iced coffee with soy milk.


    Question of the Day

    How do you fuel for your workouts? Do you consume calories before, during, and/or after?

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    { 42 comments… read them below or add one }

    Evan Thomas October 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I usually eat something calorically dense before, and then more nutritious, filling things after. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten during a workout. It just seems uncomfortable to do so.


    Julie (A Case of the Runs) October 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I prefer GU. While I do prefer the concept of bloks/cubes, my mouth simply gets too tired to chew as I pile on the miles.


    Clare @ Fitting It All In October 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I only fuel on runs that are about 10 miles or more, and I’ve only tried GU gels. I like the chocolate flavor, but I like anything c hocolate! During my half marathon I took one around mile 8 and I think it helped.

    I’d like to try some other versions…blocks and things like that. And even some other flavors of GU, but I kinda think if I found one that works, why mess with it?


    Erica D October 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Eating soon after working out is what works best for me; once I’m in the zone, I’m good to go until I stop! I’ll have an easy-to-digest nibble beforehand (like a bit of fruit), and either have my meal afterwards or some soymilk & protein powder to tide me over until the real deal.


    Lori October 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I am training for a half marathon and have just hit 10 miles, so I am experimenting with fueling options. This week it was just Gatorade at mile 6, but definatly want to try some of the gummie chews or shot blocks before race day. I run at 5am so on runs over 6 miles I eat half a banana and some gatorade and afterward I drink a glass of low fat chocolate milk followed by some oatmeal about an hour later.


    Mary @ Bites and Bliss October 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I always eat a little something before heading for the gym or a run- usually a banana and some carbs. Once I’m home, it’s more good carbs and protien. That seems to help my muscles and energy restore pretty well.


    Becky October 11, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    http://www.powerbar.com/products/236/powerbar-energy-blasts-gel-filled-chews.aspx – I’ve found them at Target for .99/pack but they are sold for a little more (usually over $1) at many running stores.

    I love these – I have only had the raspberry flavor but I believe they make strawberry-banana too. I usually take a couple with me on my long runs for fuel and have not had any problems with them (in the past Luna moons have made me gag because of the flavor and super sticky texture). Before long runs I’ll usually just eat crackers, but I always eat extra the day(s) before long runs to front-load my calories as much as possible, which has worked pretty well for me so far! I have also found that taking 1/4 of a pepto bismol tablet immediately after long runs helps with most of my post-run stomach issues, and that I feel better when I eat something shortly after a long run (usually a bagel with cream cheese or melted cheese). So fun following your training and LOVE seeing the amazing pictures of my hometown!


    Katie H. October 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I used to stick to chomps but received a free sample of mint chocolate gu. I was converted after that! They are easier on my stomach for whatever reason and taste like chocolate cake. I had two during my half marathon yesterday (at miles 5 and 10- I fueled 1.5 hours prior to the race with half of a plain bagel with pb) and felt great the whole time! Give the mint chocolate gu a try- it is awesome!


    Tanya October 11, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    When I was training for my marathon, I found the foods that worked best for me were grapes, gummy colas, and bites of homemade oatmeal pancakes. Afterwards I always had chocolate malted milk. I don’t get to drink chocolate malted milk very often so the thought of it kept me going through a lot of long workouts πŸ™‚


    jen October 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    i loooove shot bloks. i was introduced to them on long distance cycling rides. mountain berry, cherry cola, and tropcal are the best! I also drink coconut water along the way to refuel and keep electrolytes up.

    pretzels are too dry to eat while running. i’d worry about the potential to choke. same with sticky, thick snickers.


    Erika @ Food, Fitness, & Fun October 11, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Great post! I usually don’t run for more than 4 miles straight so I will usually have a little something (like a bar) before running and then refuel with a little protein and carbs afterwards. Just curious – how does the “goo” taste? πŸ˜‰


    Elizabeth October 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t like Gu’s/gels/etc because I don’t care for the texture (makes me gag) and the sugar (even maltodextrin) makes my stomach cramp. So, I fuel with medjool dates (which I de-pit beforehand). Dates are, afterall, “nature’s candy”.


    Laura @ Backstage Pass to Health & Happiness October 11, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I like to use gels that contain caffeine. I’m not a runner, but on a recent 13+ hike to the summit of Pikes Peak I had used a couple of the Latte flavored PowerGels. My group and I also constantly snacked on gummy bears, dried fruit and salty snacks to stay fueled.


    Gavi @ GaviGetsGoing! October 11, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    What a timely post! I finished my first half marathon yesterday without taking in more than a sip of water and a few Sports Beans the whole 1:52. Let me tell you–I was NOT a happy camper after the race! I suffered from pretty bad dehydration, and my stomach was so upset that I couldn’t refuel properly yesterday. In the future, I plan to actually walk through the aid stations in order to consume some water, sports drink, and some food around the 1-hour mark. Thanks for the great suggestions!


    Lindsay October 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    These are my favorite refueling gummy — they don’t have a weird after taste at all. So good!



    Wendy October 11, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    For hiking, rock climbing, etc… I just eat when I’m hungry… usually every 2 hrs or so. Bread, hummus, PB and fruit plus some granola bars. For cycling, I try to eat every 15-20 miles (it is usually the distance they have aid stations for an organized ride PERFECT) or every hour or so. I’d pack three larabars + gatorade for an 80-mile ride (longest I’ve ridden by myself) and for organized rides, eat whatever smiles at me at the aid station(bananas, pbj, watermelon or… even better, chocolate).


    Kelly October 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I consume the majority of my calories AFTER but I always make sure to have a little something first. When I was marathon training my go-to mid-run fuel was the powerbar gel..my favorite was either vanilla or strawberry banana.


    Carisa October 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Wish I would have had this post before our half marathon! Good information! I would have had a much better final three miles had I consumed some fuel during the race. I never had any trouble during training though, even up to a 12 mile, so I consumed most of my fuel afterwards. If I do another half, I will definitely change my routine!


    Stacy October 11, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I’ve been running for awhile, and I finally learned the importance of fueling during long runs. IT WORKS. I’ve been experimenting on my long runs. Here’s my take: blueberry pancake and water for breakfast (about 200 calories an hour before the run), one Clif shot gel (mocha) and a few mini-pretzels with six to eight ounces of water every 45 minutes. I’ve also noticed that I drink a lot more water later on in my runs. Once I hit the 15-mile point, I’m drinking water every 10-15 minutes. I think the key is to experiment as to what works best for you. The mini-pretzels (SALT!) have become my secret weapon.


    Anne @ Your Kind of Salad October 11, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Great post! Personally, I feel nauseous running after eating too much, so I need to fill up without feeling full. Typically I have small wrap with peanut butter or a Clif bar plus coffee pre-run (and some water about 30 minutes before). On runs 8 miles or more I take 2 shot bloks every other mile. I LOVE the margarita bloks; they have a salty flavor which I love on long runs;
    I heart salt!


    Kate @ Spoonful of Vigor October 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    My favorite gummy fuel is Sharkies! But I may have to be on the lookout for the margarita bloks mentioned above…


    Courtney [foodnfashionlife.wordpress.com] October 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I ate the Blocks when I ran the Broad Street Run (10 miler) I would recommend popping one in your mouth shortly before you hit a water station or have water ready to take a sip. It definitely helped me get it down.


    Kierstan @ Life {and running} in Iowa October 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I do fuel on runs longer than 10 miles. I am a fan of Gu (chocolate outrage is really good!!), but like you, need to experiment a little more as I prepare to run the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa this November. I also usually wear my fuel belt with 2 bottles filled with water and 2 filled with Gatorade.

    Before my runs I fuel with toast, PB and banana. I am really bad about fueling right after my runs – all I want to do is take a nice LONG shower!


    Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I never do cardio for more than 45 minutes, so I don’t need to fuel during my workouts, but I always have a snack after! Usually something with protein + carbs, like Greek yogurt with cereal.


    Hannah October 11, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    I don’t ecercise, so calories are just about what’s tasty in my opinion πŸ˜‰


    Heather October 11, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I am a GU girl. some flavors I hate, but I love vanilla, gingerbread, strawberry banana, basic ones like that. but vanilla is my fav. I dont like the blocks b/c they get stuck in my teeth!


    Carly October 11, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    I love Sharkies. They are kids gummies that are organic, sugar coated, really easy on the stomach, have vitamins. Apparently they make them for adults too, but I find the kids ones in the “bar” aisle at target. They worked great through all of my 1/2 marathon training runs πŸ™‚


    Lee October 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I like chocolate gu. I also like sport beans, but find that I end up choking on them when I run. I usually fuel during runs that are longer than 7 miles. Not sure where I got that number from, but I feel okay without fueling mid-run on shorter distances.


    Jess October 11, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    I just ran my first marathon and after months of training, I tried all sorts of different ways to fuel before settling on chomps. the gus and gels made me gag. clif shot blocks were too sweet and after just a couple i couldn’t handle anymore. i heard fig newtons were good so i tried those and they were a crumbly mess! jelly beans just seemed annoying but didn’t upset my stomach. in the end, i went with the chomps steadily throughout the marathon and finished feeling great in 3:48! good luck on your marathon. it’s a wonderful feeling to finish.


    Lindsay October 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    i like blocks!! usually an hour in to the workout and a banana 30 minutes after workingout


    Kelly October 11, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    thanks so much for sharing your tips! i’m training for my first half and these will definitely come in handy.


    Tricia October 11, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I did my first triathlon this summer and I tried out lots of different things to keep me going (and prevent nausea!). I loved the GU Chomps. They were what I used on race day – and a banana!


    Molly October 11, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Tina, I just found your blog through Twitter and I love it! Question though, how much is a “scoop” of Barney Butter? Is that just a spoonful or a tablespoon? Is there a equivalent?


    Caroline October 12, 2010 at 5:51 am

    I just finished my first marathon a little over a week ago. I carried coconut water in my fuel belt (tons of electrolytes and all natural, so I thought it would sit better with me than gatorade) and alternated drinking that with drinking water. I ate shot blocks and some sport beans. Although shot blocks are big, they are much easier to chew and dissolve more quickly than the sport beans, which have a hard crust and can kind of make you feel like choking. I hate all of that stuff, but it’s better than bonking (although the last six miles were still really tough, I’m not sure how different I would have felt without all the fuel)! Good luck with your marathon!!!



    Tina October 12, 2010 at 6:24 am

    @Molly: Yea, it’s about spoonful. I don’t measure.


    Tania October 12, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I’m not a huge gu fan, but I have found the citrus based ones to be ok. I also like the Honey Stinger energy shots, which are (duh) honey-based and less thick than other gels… If you like honey, you’ll love ’em.


    Lisa October 12, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I use EFS liquid shot during my triathlons, training and 10mile + races. It has more calories than Gu, Hammer, etc but I like the consistency better, also it’s about the same size so you don’t have to carry too many. I also have issues with Gu since it is only one kind of sugar, and that sometimes causes me stomach pains, but EFS has three kinds so you can get imediate energy from the simple sugars and longer lasting energy from the complex carbohydrates. It also contains more than enough electrolytes so you don’t ‘necessarily’ need gatorade, which I don’t like so EFS fits all my ‘issues’ perfectly! You should give it a try.
    Also try chocolate milk as a recovery drink! It supplies you with fat, carbs and protein for you muscle’s recovery!


    Caroline October 12, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I just did my 14 mile long run on Sunday..I woke up at 6 to eat breakfast, 2 rice cakes with peanut butter and banana and some coffee..then around 9 I ate half an apple and started my run around 10. I have tried all sorts of things for during a long run, and I agree that GU or any of those packets of gooey stuff make you gag, so I stick to clif shock blocks..for a little halloween treat I was even thinking of eating some candy corn next time! Afterwards I always drink a ton of water and I a protein shake..happy running!


    Gina October 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Hammer Gel is my favorite by far. Was great for the BAA Half Marathon on Sunday. I like raspberry the best.


    joyce October 12, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Can you tell me how you made that pumpkin oatmeal? With measurements, etc? It looks delicious.


    Amy @ twenty-something September 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    These tips really helped me on my long run today! Thanks!


    Cate October 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I was weary at first to try Gu, but I love it now – Especially the pineapple and Jet blackberry (contains caffeine). I also love the powerbar chews. They’re a better texture for me than the blocks or moons. They taste better to me too – I know the purpose of them is to replenish electrolytes and give you some energy, but I just couldn’t get past the saltiness of some of the chews!


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