When Do You Start Eating on Long Runs?
I tend to start taking in nutrition when I go on long runs that are 10 miles or more. Some resources will tell you to start fueling after 75 minutes, and in45-minute increments until the end of your run, others suggest fueling more often, while others don’t fuel at all. I think the answer lies in what works best for you as an individual runner.
Some people have sensitive stomachs and can’t handle much fuel, and they feel fine. Others might feel lightheaded or weak if they don’t take in fuel at regular intervals. I HIGHLY recommend experimenting on your long runs (well in advance of your race) to find out the best formula– it will likely take some trial and error.
Just because someone tells you how often they fuel on a long run doesn’t mean that the same method will work for you. You don’t want to forget to hydrate either! If you take in a sugar-heavy snack and don’t drink while you’re doing it, the sugar rush can upset your stomach (I’ve had this happen to me with GU). On a side note, if you are consuming GU or Sport Beans (or any other fuel with electrolytes), you don’t need to carry a sports drink on the run– water is fine.
What Are the Different Options for Eating on Long Runs?
The following are some of the most popular nutrition choices for fueling your long run (in no particular order):
GU Energy Gel
You have undoubtedly seen those little foil packets with GU on them at races. GU Energy Gel comes in a myriad of flavors from mint chocolate to vanilla bean. There is even an espresso flavor that contains caffeine! Although it took me quite a while to try my first GU, I actually like it and find it easy to eat on the run. The only trick is not getting your fingers sticky or accidentally squirting GU on your iPhone speaker (yes, I did that!). If you can, carry along a snack size Ziploc bag to store the used GU packets in– it will prevent you from having to carry the sticky wrappers around!
The only trick is not getting your fingers sticky or accidentally squirting GU on your iPhone speaker (yes, I did that!). If you can, carry along a snack size Ziploc bag to store the used GU packets in– it will prevent you from having to carry the sticky wrappers in your pocket if you can’t find a trash can nearby.
These are jelly beans that have electrolytes added into them. They are made by Jelly Belly and are super yummy! I have used them with much success. The only issue I have with Sport Beans is that sometimes it’s a little hard to chew them when you are running. I do love how they taste just like regular jelly beans and they aren’t sticky to handle on the run.
Clif Shot Bloks
Clif makes Shot Bloks which are a kind of gummy block of nutrition. I have yet to try them, but I know many people that swear by them. They are easy to pop in your mouth and soft enough to chew and easily swallow.
Gummy bears, pretzels, and other snack food
You don’t need to purchase specific “running” or “sport” snacks. In fact, you can probably raid your cabinets for something that will work just as well (gummies, raisins, bananas or other “real” foods). Snack size Ziploc bags work really well for taking these items on the run.
Honey stingers are made with real honey and come in waffles, gels, protein bars, energy bars, and chews. I have tried the waffles before, and I think they taste great! If you love honey, definitely give them a try!
UnTapped Maple Syrup
This an update to this list. I was so excited to find that you can now purchase UnTapped maple syrup energy packets. Made from 100% pure Vermont maple syrup, these packets are a great low glycemic index fuel source. These are definitely going on my list for half marathon fuel this fall. 🙂
Fueling for a long run is just one of the many important aspects of training for a marathon or half marathon. Don’t forget to focus on long run recovery in the hours and days after your weekly long run. It will help your body to recover appropriately and keep your training on track!