Tips for Fueling Your Run

My very first half-marathon helped me realize a huge mistake. The last 2 miles of the run, I was hit with fatigue and nausea—common “bonking” symptoms. Even though I trained adequately and ate properly leading up to the big event, Race Day was a different story and it was then I realized the importance of fueling during a long run. Even with a substantial pre-run meal, my body was still not lacking energy and key nutrients. Ever since then I have perfected my fueling and therefore enabled myself a solid finish. I did some research and tested different fueling methods.

Here are my tips for fueling during a run:

  • Create a fueling plan. Practice new tactics during training runs and avoid trying anything new on race day. Map out where water stations will be on the trail and know what food and drinks you will need to carry with you.
  • Drink every 20 minutes. Remember if you feel thirsty you are past the point of dehydration.
  • Beware of Commercial Sports Foods: Sports Gels, Sport Beans, Gu. Personally, I am unable to tolerate these forms of fuel. They are known to cause diarrhea and be uneasy on a runner’s stomach. That being said they do offer quick, efficient energy and nutrients and are easy to carry during race days. Make sure you try one ahead of time.
  • Alternative methods of fuel. Things I have found to work for me are Fig Newtons, Swedish Fish or Gummy Candies, Pretzels, and Protein Bars. The candies can provide an immediate sugar rush and help prevent the light-headedness. Protein bars are better for long term fuel and can last much longer. Pretzels are great if you have a high sweat rate and therefore losing sodium.
  • Drinking you calories. High sugar sports drinks such as Gatorade can act in a similar fashion to gummy candies- enabling a quick burst of glucose in liquid form. Drinks such as these should be used in addition to solid calories for a long-term affect. However, if you are planning on only drinking calories you would likely want to try something with more protein or added buffers, such as Perpetuem, which is meant to sustain you for a longer period of time.
  • Timing. If Exercise lasts 1-2.5 hours, rule of thumb is to consume 30 to 60 grams carbs/hour. This totals to about 120 to 240 calories of carbohydrates . If Exercise lasts longer than 2.5 hours, consume 60 to 90 grams carbs/hour

fueling for a run


Stayed tuned for more information about pre and post workout meals, and ideas leading up to the big day.


Source: Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners

Blog updated October 2015

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