We know it, we practice it and we are all equally mistafyed by the magic formula needed to fuel properly on long runs/races.
I'm here to pull back the layers and crack the code on what is the PERFECT fueling plan.
*WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD---YOU'VE BE WARNED*
The perfect plan is truly whatever works for you.(I know a bit click bait-ish but stay with me) While the basic rule of thumb is 30-60grams of carbs per hour, I like to take in my fuel at around the 30 min mark because that's what works for me, some people air on every 45 min. It is a lot of trial and error and that comes to timing as well as the type of fuel that works. It's basically The Devinci Code that we are trying to crack since everyones gut is difference.
While I encourage everyone to try different approaches to types and timing here are some helpful places to start when it seems overwhelming....
Gels vs Whole Foods (not the store):
I have used both traditional gels as well as whole food options. I'll be honest that gels are easier because it takes a lot less to give you what you need and can be easier to store as well. But a big plus for using a whole food options is that they are everywhere and not just specific to running or sports stores.
#1 Gel Option: hands down is Maurten Gels (Full Review HERE). They have minimal taste and don't make a giant mess even after getting warmed up with your body heat. You get a big punch in a small packet with minimal bulk. Plus the expiration date can't be beat.
#1 Whole Foods Option: Apple sauce packets!! They are convenient and semi mess free as well. Can be tucked away but a con is they can be a bit bulky and require more packets to be stashed somewhere than gel packets. They are equally as easy on the stomach though and if you are a parent you probably already have them on hand.
Want some other whole food options? Visit Amy on Instagram HERE for awesome options for on the run as well as off!
Carrying Water vs Stashing Water:
So the germ freak in me can't personally wrap my head around stashing water on my routes. I don't ever leave even a normal drink unattended so even leaving a sealed water bottle somewhere to be drank later will never be my jam. However, for the sake of comparison I will cover the pros and cons of both options...
Carrying Water: Doing this in your training from the starts gets you used to having the extra weight and taking in fluid gradually vs guzzling down ounces through an aid station or having your mojo thrown off bringing it into your stride mid run. A con I have found though is in the beginning it did throw off my arm swing and I would drink too often which led to an extremely full bladder. Eventually I learned to pace is with my gels intake and got into a good rhythm. Extra bonus on those hot South Florida days it was nice to get that refresh whenever I wanted.
Stashing Water: One huge plus right off the bat is that you don't get weighed down with extra ounces. You have your hands completely free and aren't tempted to cross your arms over your body to compensate for one side having more of a load. I already expressed the con of being freaked leaving water so I won't beat that down anymore. The other con about not having water at every step is some days you will need a extra sip or two at inopportune times as well as on race day itself. There is nothing worse that being thirsty and waiting for that next bottle, next aid station or even having to fight the crowd to get a cup. Having it on your person makes for easy tweaks and adjustments that come with every different race and run.
Pre Run Fueling:
I know WAY too many runners that start off with an empty belly or just a splash of coffee. I am here to tell you to eat SOMETHING. I know not everyone can choke down food early in the morning and I also understand not running on a full stomach but there has to be a happy medium. Just like you don't go from no running to a 5k, you also don't go from eating nothing pre run to having a full breakfast sandwich.
Simple go to ideas to start with:
Piece of toast
Half a bagel
Half a sports bar (I love Picky Bars)
It may take a bit for you to find what you like but just like anything else it'll become part of your routine and even become something you like *gasp!*
Post Run Fueling:
I encourage you to have a fullmeal after runs but these are some good quick grabs to get something into your system and begin the recovery process. I know for me I usually am finishing a run, showering and getting on to the next activity so these are convenient and nourishing!
Grab and Go To's:
Peanut Butter Sandwich
Yogurt and granola
What questions do you have about fueling? Preparing and trying out different options? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!