Fuel Up Friday

A couple of weeks ago I bonked hard on my long run. My legs felt dead, my stomach was upset, I felt dizzy and nauseous. It was rough. I had never hit the wall that bad before that.

After that run I contacted two RDs  that I know and LOVE – Jenna from Eat Right Around Chicago and Evelyn Tribole, author of Intuitive Eating.

One key thing that Jenna suggested, which I didn’t do before, is to start refueling 45 minutes into my long runs. I usually wait until halfway through – which could be at mile 10 – almost 2 hours in!

She suggested consuming 45g of carbs per hour. This can come in the form of gels, drinks, chews, pretzels… it doesn’t matter. And also drinking 16-24oz of fluid per hour.

I also found this article on Active that clearly breaks down how to Fuel for Peak Marathon Performance. The title says “marathon”, but this applies to half marathons as well.

The article breaks down fueling into three categories:

1. Pre-run fuel: Eat about 250 calories an hour before your long run. Also, drink about 16 to 24 oz. of fluid one to two hours before.

2. Start refueling about an hour into the run. This should be mostly high-glycemic carbs like gels, chews, pretzels.

3. Drink up!

To avoid severe cases of dehydration, runners should aim to replace 0.5-1 liter of fluid each hour during runs, implementing an electrolyte-rich beverage (e.g. sports drink) after 60 minutes of running.

A sports drink should contain the following approximate concentration of electrolytes per 8-12 fluid ounce serving:

  • Sodium: 150-250 mg
  • Chloride: 45-75 mg
  • Potassium: 50-80 mg
  • Magnesium: 20-30 mg
  • Calcium: 10-15 mg
  • You never want to try something new on race day, so it’s very important to figure out what your body likes and dislikes during training. I’m glad I hit the wall in training somewhere that Ben could come pick me up, versus race day and end up  in the First Aid tent.

    I love Sports Beans, but I think I don’t eat enough of them on my long runs. The whole package has 24 grams of carbs. Based on Jenna’s advice, I need to eat more than one of these on a run lasting two hours. IMG_1128

    I also bought a few new things to try – Honey Stinger in Chocolate (hell yeah I did) and an electrolyte drink. I’ll let ya know what I think. IMG_1130

    I think up until this point I’ve been afraid to eat too much on a run. I mean, I originally started exercising to lose weight so it’s hard to change from that mentality to one of an athlete. But, if you are pushing your body athletically you should be fueling it like an athlete.

    Bonking was really scary and crappy :( I don’t want to go there again, so I am changing my ways and making sure to fuel and re-fuel according to athletic standards NOT weight loss standards.

    Run: This morning I did an easy 5K for Friday and some light stretching. I am really going to make an effort to stretch more these next 30 days.

    I am usually not satisfied with yogurt bowls for breakfast because I prefer cereal with milk, but it was calling my name this morning. IMG_1122

    In the mix: greek yogurt, cottage cheese with pineapple, banana, cereals, raisins and almond slivers. I added a small scoop of PB after the picture.


    And an iced coffee with almond milk. IMG_1127Happy Friday!!!

    Question:  How do you fuel during long runs or workouts? Do you think you fuel enough?

    I have been contacted by a lot of readers who aim to lose weight and are scared to eat before or during a run because it might interfere with their weight loss, but I really think this is the wrong mentality to have.

    Don’t ask a lot of your body without being willing to give a lot back in return. We all need proper fuel, rest and love :)


    1. says

      Hey, thanks for the info.
      I’ve not gone beyond 8k yet but I still notice a big difference in what I’ve eaten/not eaten to how I feel on a run

    2. Kianni says

      I always have a kefir/ yogurt papaya ginger blueberry smoothie before I go on my runs every morning. that and a piece of a wrap with a slice of apple and peanut butter. (about 25 minutes prior) I’ve never eaten or drank anything besides water during a run except once when it was super hot out here and I ran into 7-11 go a crystal light slurpee and continued running with it lol. and that ws in 85+ degree weather for 13 miles. I’ve gone up to about 19 miles so far and still never eat anything, nor feel the need to. If I were to keep going farther though and it were to be say 9 AM, I would figure something out (I eat at 5:30 pre-run and 9 post-run)

    3. says

      I have this issue too. I don’t want to fuel too much b/c I secretly always want to lose 5 lbs. But I don’t want to crash and burn during a run too. Ultimately I want to run well and long more than I want to lose that 5 lbs. I just need to remember that. Thanks for all the helpful advice!

    4. says

      I love bringing fruit leather to the gym with me for longer sessions.

      But how are you supposed to drink and eat so much with potty breaks? Another reason I love the gym!

    5. says

      I usually eat a banana with nut butter 1 hour before a long run. During the run, I carry a bottle filled with mostly coconut water and topped off with tap water. For mid-run fuel, I usually eat a GU gel, but I’m going to try to eat a few dates every hour on my 18 miler on Sunday and see how they work for me.
      I usually have a nice cold bowl of overnight oats waiting for me when I finish a run. Gotta refuel quickly to restock your depleted glycogen stores! :)

    6. says

      It is so hard for me to eat before working out, and that has had some baaaad results. When I was a youngin’ training for swimming, I would eat a ton of calories before workouts–bagels with cream cheese, gummies, donuts, pasta, Harvest Bars (anyone remember those?), ANYTHING. It’s not surprising that my stomach is a little sensitive now hehe.

    7. says

      It is so important to understand how to fuel when training for a marathon. I found when I fueled properly, I ran faster, felt better and could push myself harder. I too was afraid of eating while training, but it is hard on your body if you don’t. I like to east the sport beans or fig newtons.

    8. says

      I finally noticed that my gatorade/water mixture was not going to cut it on my long runs. This is after I’ve bonked during 2 of my long runs. I bought some Cliff Shot Blox a couple days ago for my long run this weekend, hopefully that helps!

    9. Dynamics says

      Although I do not run, I hike and i have a tendency to not eat before heading up the mountain. I crashed and burned. I pictured a life support helicopter coming to get me. Wrong! After that crash and burn day I fueled the night before with lots of water, I ate breakfast and drank a bottle of water before heading out. Amazing. I made it to the top of the mountain and back down with lots of energy left over to continue walking for another mile. I also found out that if my food is balanced several days before the hike I also perform better. Great Post Monica!

    10. says

      This mentality, to fuel to run, has finally FINALLY clicked for me. THANK FREAKN GOODNESS!

      I realized this the past month plus with the the 1/2 marathon training and really, that is what got me under 2hrs, on hills. had i not had my gu’s starting at mile 5 and drank the whole liter of water by the end, with electrolyte water waiting for me, i never would have been able to do it. And with the mentality that i was aiming to break a time barrier, and not run to lose weight, made all the difference.

      rock those beans starting early, along with that electrolyte water during and after. i think drinking that kind of water afterwards makes all the difference, and stretching. i haven’t had to take an ice bath since san antonio last nov after my first 1/2! 😀

    11. says

      My rule of thumb with fueling for runs is anything longer than 6 miles, I need fuel. Although I know I need to work on properly hydrating. I’m not so great with that.

    12. Amy Ramos says

      Thanks for the info. I usually fuel up before a run with pb, banana on a bagel thin but I think I need to add more. I may add a mini cliff bar to my meal. I also have 1/2 cup of coffee (the coffee does help me).
      I think I am not fueling properly during my runs. I usually only carry water and 1 GU (and like you, I do it at the mid point). I think I will bring some coconut water or gatorade and 2 Gu’s. I always fuel up good post run with a Green Monster.

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