As you start to ramp up your mileage, a new aspect of training begins to emerge. How do you fuel? For those training for a half marathon or marathon distance, this can be a very difficult thing to manage or even know where to start!
First and foremost, remember that everyone is different. What works for one runner, may not work for another. This is why it is very important to use your training runs to try out various fueling methods to find the right fit for you!
These are a few tips that we have learned during our running experience. Again, use these as a starting point until you find the right combination for your running and fueling needs.
Eat before you run. While this may appear easy for those who run later in the day, it is extremely important for those who run in the morning! Yes, it may require getting up a little earlier, but your body needs the fuel even for a short run. Choose a food that is easily digested and contains carbohydrates along with a little protein. Great examples are a banana, bagel or oatmeal with peanut butter, yogurt or even a few handfuls of cereal. Make sure you give your body enough time to digest and settle before running. Don’t have a lot of time? Take a gel (or similar fuel) 5-10 minutes before your run.
Keep your fueling consistent. Especially when you first start to increase your mileage, it can be hard to know when to add fuel to your runs. A great rule of thumb is to fuel every hour of exercise. (You may find that some runs require fueling more often, however make sure you fuel at least every hour.) The most important piece of advice is NOT to wait until you are hungry – at that point, it is too late! In terms of fuel sources, there are many on the market. Gels and chews are the most common, however some runners even use dried fruit or applesauce. (Always take fuel with a little water.) Another option is powder that is mixed into water – a great option for those who would rather take in liquid. Do some experimenting to find what works best for you!
If you tend to have a sensitive stomach (as Megan does), it may be worthwhile to try more natural products. Megan uses Hammer Nutrition (which has very little sugar, focusing more on complex carbohydrates) and it has helped tremendously. There are various options such as gels and powder for during your runs, as well as many other products for before and after your run. **Click on this link and get 15% off your first order!**
Don’t forget electrolytes. When training for races in Florida and California, it’s no secret that the races may be warm. Hydrating and fueling are definitely important, but don’t forget electrolytes as well! During your training runs or races, be sure to take in some sports drink or use electrolyte tabs in your water. This will help replenish the minerals you have been losing while running. And if the weather is particularly hot and/or humid, make sure you are replenishing more often.
Fuel after your run too. After a long run or race, you may have your eyes set on a celebration meal. Even though you do have some calories to enjoy, there are very specific tanks that need to be refilled right away. Within 30-60 minutes of finishing your run, make sure you consume complex carbohydrates and protein (ideal ratio is 3:1). While there are various ways to get these carbs and protein, many runners find that a drink is the easiest route. Chocolate milk is an easy option, as are the many recovery mixes available at a local running store.
When the mileage increases, make sure that you are fueling your body in a way that can keep you on track for that next runDisney race! Once you find what works for you, be sure to bring those items along to your runDisney race. It will help you cross that finish line with a smile!