Skip to content

Fueling and hydration during a run or race

August 21, 2012

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:

And closely linked, some info on hydration:

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2012 2:28 pm

    great post

  2. whalenchirosd permalink
    September 11, 2012 2:34 am

    These are some good advises. How does those Shot Bloks work? Are the like a chewing gum? or Just like a candy?

  3. hydrationmax permalink
    September 18, 2012 4:40 pm

    Great post. Some good points here but I like to make sure that I hydrate really well before exercising and not when I start to get thirsty.

  4. October 21, 2012 1:55 pm

    I’ve notice over the years that drinking a cup of coffee helps me during the run. I recently ran into some medical problems, but I’m fighting my way back to health. Here is my short story below.

    II got a nice little present when I turned 54 I was diagnosed with diabetes II. This made me take a serious look at my health, so I had two options: just accept it or do something about it. In March 2012, I weighed 208. Today (21 Oct 2012) I weigh 176 lbs. People ask me “how did you do it?” I just started doing all the things that you know you should be doing, but I didn’t try to do it all in one day. I started watching what I ate and how much I ate. I started working out again, and I find time to work out, no matter what. Perhaps the hardest part of losing weigh has been getting rid of my belly fat. I’m not a fan of crunches. I never have been even when I was a young lad in the US Marine Corps. I ordered a supplement that has really helped me with that problem. You can see it your yourself if you want to. It’s listed below.

  5. Angie Quinlan permalink
    February 11, 2013 11:47 pm

    I just read your post on hydrating on a run and thought you made some really great points. I especially liked your comment about needing water DURING a run…. me too! 🙂 My company, The Hydrosleeve, focuses on just that subject, and I thought your readers might be interested in a review if you had a chance. Here’s a link to our media page if you’re interested: Let me know if I can give you any more information or help out in any way. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: