One of the most important (and confusing!) aspects of training runs is proper fueling. Taking in the right amount of fuel at the right time on runs will replenish your muscle glycogen stores (stored glucose), which will keep your energy levels up, and helps improve your performance, ensuring a strong finish.
The rule of thumb is to refuel during runs lasting longer than 75 minutes. If your run is longer than this, you should take in about 25 grams (or about 100 calories) of carbohydrate every 45 minutes. Simple, right?
The trickiest thing about fueling on long runs can be figuring out what to refuel with! Sure, there are millions of different GUs, blocks, shots and chews out there, but those are not your only options (especially if they leave you running to the bathroom, instead of the finish line)!
Sports supplements are composed purely of carbohydrates, meaning they are a super concentrated form of sugar. When you ingest sugar in such a concentrated form, it can cause the intestines to pull in water, leading to stomach upset, and the dreaded “runners’ trots”. All sports supplement packages say “consume with plenty of water” to prevent GI distress, but it still does not prevent it in from happening in every runner. Additionally, if you are not used to taking in such supplements, getting your body used to them can be a long, difficult process.
Energy Gels, Chews, Chomps and Blocks are favored by many athletes due to there their ease and convenience. They all contain about 25 grams of carbohydrate and 100 calories per serving. But again, these products are not your only options, especially if you are looking for something a little more natural and less pricey! Plus, they will likely be better options for runners prone to stomach upset.
So, what does 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrate look like for some alternate fuel sources?
25 Jelly Beans
1 dried Medjool date
¼ c. raisins
1 Red Vine licorice twist
1 Fig Newton
4 ounces of a sports drink
4 large marshmallows
17 gummy bears
When completing a long run or race, fuel early and often. Use training runs not only as running practice, but as fueling practice! Once you figure out what works for you, your body will be ready to push long and hard on the way to achieving your next PR!
What is your fueling method during a workout? What is your favorite form of long run fuel?