My friend Angela, from Happy Fit Mama, is joining me today to share some great tips for fueling before, during and after long runs:
Finding what works for you and your stomach before, during and after a long run or race is tricky. There is no “magic” solution. Everyone is different. What may work for your running partner may have you running for the port-a-potties or the bushes. We all have a different metabolic rate, stomach sensitivity, intensity of exercise, sweat rate, and other factors that determine our energy needs.
What to eat…
A good rule of thumb is to take in no more than 100 calories per hour, counting back from the time you’ll be starting exercise. My breakfast of whole wheat toast and a thin smear of almond butter before my run had approximately 150 calories or so. Even though I ate it 30 minutes before running, it worked just fine for me. On a race day, I would eat much more given the later start time. For my last half marathon, I had a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and banana.
I know for some people, coffee is a MUST before any length of a run. For caffeine reasons but to also get the bowels moving. Nothing is worse than having to go #2 while out on a long run! Been there, done that!
I’ve begun to use Cliff Shot Gels or Honey Stingers during long runs over 60 minutes in length. I usually will start taking it 45-50 minutes into the run followed by water. I’ve tried downing the whole gel at one time but I do better breaking it up over a few minutes.
General guideline: for workouts and races lasting over an hour or 75 minutes, take in 100–200 calories per hour, plus 8–16 oz. of fluid.
This is usually the hardest for me. I don’t have an appetite at all after a long run or race. What I found that works for me, is to make a recovery smoothie.
Taking in a snack of 100–200 calories in the first 30 minutes after your workout will help replenish your glycogen stores and speed your recovery. There is no better time to fuel up because your ability to make glycogen is two to three times higher than it will be half an hour later. If you don’t eat anything, you will recover your depleted glycogen stores eventually. But those who opt out of immediate refueling may need to wait an extra 48-72 hours for their bodies to get back to pre-workout fuel stores (source).
So play around a bit, see how you feel with each test run and you will find what works for you. And remember, never try anything new on race day!
Thanks so much, Angela!! For more fueling related reading, check out these links from Heather at Better with Veggies:
- How to Fuel Your Running (pre-run)
- How to Fuel Your Running (during)
- How to Fuel Your Running (post-run)
Are you participating in any of the virtual races this week? Have you found what running fuel works best for your body?