I’ll be honest. Despite the fact that I’ve run competitively (sort of?) for 14 years, most of the time I still feel like I know jack about the technical aspects of the sport.
So really, don’t listen to anything I say or follow my example when it comes to fueling. Because…I don’t, really. I hardly ever take water or anything on most training runs, unless I’m know I’m going significantly farther than 10 miles or 90 minutes or so. And then, I might take a handheld water bottle and I *might* either fill it half-and-half with water and a sports drink, or toss in a Nuun tablet or some kind of electrolyte powder or something. If I’m going really long, I’ll bring along a Gu gel or some chews and take that after 60-90 minutes.
When racing, though, I pay more attention. I don’t carry anything in races, so I’m at the mercy of aid stations and whatever they’re offering. In 5Ks, I don’t bother with aid stations period — except maybe if it’s boiling hot. For 10Ks, I’ll usually skip the first station, but take water at most of the rest of them (again, it largely depends on how hot it is and how crowded the aid stations are — if I’m feeling good and there’s a big back-up, I’ll cruise through). For half-marathons, I usually get something at every station — water at the first one, water or sports drink at the next, Gu or whatever they have sometime around mile 8.
I’ve only run one full marathon and I honestly don’t remember what else I had, besides water/sports drink whenever I could. I did take a little cup of pretzels (because salt) sometime around mile 18-19 and it was awful. My mouth got so dry and I couldn’t swallow them. Lesson learned. On the rare times I take in fuel on training runs, I try not to “stick” to one kind (though I prefer chews or gummy candy-like options), because I want my system to be comfortable with whatever the race is giving out. The only thing I really don’t like is full-concentrated sports drinks, but I can handle them in the small amounts that fit in the little cups.
As far as “fueling” before or after runs…in the mornings, if I’m doing more than 5 miles first thing, I’ll usually grab a granola bar or a piece of toast or half a bagel with peanut butter. And those are my typical options post-run, too. If I’m at bad about fueling in general, I’m the worst at re-fueling post-run. I’m usually done either before breakfast or shortly before dinner, so I just eat my next meal as usual.
This is where I should say that I actually purchase sports drinks, energy bars, gels, etc. approximately never. I hoard all the free samples and stuff from races and keep them in a container on my fridge.
I’m pretty sure my marathon and half-marathon times would go way down if I could figure this out, because I think I don’t take in nearly enough calories or nutrients on long runs. And since I’m looking at starting my second marathon-training cycle…um, sometime this fall? (I should probably check on that…) I’d like to commit to being a little more purposeful in how I fuel my runs — before, during, and after. I’m not saying I’m going to do anything crazy like keep a detailed food journal or count every calorie, but I’ll make more of an effort to experiment — and actually pay attention to the results — with fueling during long runs (varying what/how much I take in and when).
So…help? Any tips on how you figured out fueling?