Fueling and hydration during a run or race
In preparation for the SF half-marathon, I started experimenting with fueling during a race.
It had been a long time since I really needed to worry about fueling during a race. I think I used to just fuel up with a banana (or half) before a run. One big change from 10 years ago is I didn’t drink coffee then. Right. It’s now a big part of my life (I wrote a book about Italian coffee) in that I have one espresso, like clockwork, in the morning (most days I only have just that one). I usually have a few hours to process the coffee before heading off to the gym, so needless to say a 5 or 6am start for a race was making me nervous.
I tried a run a few weeks ago with no coffee and that was a bad idea. I also do most of my workouts on an empty (post-coffee) stomach and I think running longer distances (6 miles or so), I can’t. So I’m back to experimenting with proper fueling and giving my body proper time to process them so I’m not burping them up the first few miles (TMI?)
Here’s a look into how I fuel:
Pre-race: I think I ate a granola bar (don’t remember the brand) and a yogurt.
Race time: I ran with a Fuel belt and a personal water bottle.
- GU: When I ran my last half, I used Gu (I think two packets) but on a recent run I couldn’t stomach the peanut butter flavor I got and the consistency (kinda like pudding) is not something I enjoy in normal circumstances
- Drink: I used Gatorade in my water bottle on my belt, and picked up the water at most of the stations.
I ran without any sort of fuel belt but tucked some fuel into my running pants’ pockets.
- Clif Shot Bloks: I’ve been using Clif Shot Bloks and I really like them (candy…drool) and a few flavors have a bit of caffeine as well. Flavors I like: Orange, Cran-Razz, Strawberry.
- Drink - I grabbed water at all the stations, and I was glad not be carrying anything (I have a fuel belt and a handheld bottle) but I think I would consider bringing a bottle again since I think I need a lot of water while exercising. I usually drink 27 ounces just during a 1-hr weight class, or after a 30-minute run. I grabbed the electrolyte drink at one of the stations and promptly spit it out – I’m not sure if it was just that flavor or brand but my mouth did not want that.
One thing I’ll probably incorporate into my race fueling is Nuun electrolyte tablets. I picked up a few tubes of Nuun after hearing good things, and I’ve used them in a few post-run hydrations. I like that it’s not a lot of sugar, and gives you all the electrolytes anyway. Flavors I like: Orange, Citrus, Pink Lemonade, Peach Tea.I’ve enjoyed all the Nuun flavors I’ve gotten so far.
The Clif Shot Bloks, on the other hand, were almost the perfect fuel – one of the best things about them is one of the last things you’d consider when evaluating a fuel: the package. It comes in a long package (like Starburst) and I liked that I could just cut it in half for an hour run (3 cubes, 100 calories) or stick both halves in for a longer run. The packaging kept them from getting sticky and they are easy to access – I placed them facing up so I could grab one at a time, and in many cases, I would bite off part or half of one chew if I didn’t want the whole thing at once.
I tried some other brands like Gu Chomps (ok, texture a little weird) or Honey Stingers Organic Energy Chews (tastes good) but the packages they come in are really hard to divide up and carry with you, and most runners probably won’t need a whole package on their mid-length runs. The Honey Stingers are 160 calories for the whole package (10 pieces), and GU Chomps are 180 calories (8 pieces). Shot Bloks are 200 calories, in 6 pieces so pretty easy to divide and carry.
See exhibits below:
and the beautiful and simple Clif Bloks:
Here are some posts I found helpful from fellow healthy living / running blogs about fueling:
- From Runner’s World: Carbs on the Run
- Active.com’s How to Fuel for a Marathon and How to Fuel on a Run
- Run Eat Repeat shares her tips What should I eat on a Run and her commenters add a ton of suggestions, too
- Skinny Runner (she is a RUNNER!) shares how she fuels
And closely linked, some info on hydration:
- Runner’s World Sipping Points