How to fuel for your long runs
How to fuel for your long runs
Do you find that you 'hit the wall' in the last quarter of your long runs?
You know what it's like...
One minute you're running at a good, solid pace
...and then the next you're basically walking.
It's not always easy to find a way to fuel for your long runs that suits you and keeps your body feeling energized. So watch this video to see the different ways you could be fueling your long runs so that you can finish feeling as strong as you felt when you started!
Do you want to shave 10 minutes off your marathon PB?
You can run faster with our FREE running strength training programme that you can do once a week, at home and with no expensive gym equipment needed.
Included in the programme:
Detailed descriptions of each exercise so you know how to do them
Number of repetitions for each exercise so that you avoid overtraining & injury
Short videos showing you EXACTLY what to do (Number 6 will turn you into the "Marathon Slayer" so that you don't hit the wall and implode later in the race)
What are you training for?
Simply click on any of the images below to access our running training programmes.
Welcome on to the next edition of RUN with Coach Parry. I'm Brad. We've got the coach with us, Lindsey Parry once again and a great nutrition question today particularly around energy gels. Lindsey, great to catch up once again. How's it going?
Excellent. Brad, how are you?
Yeah, fantastic. Great question in on the forums on the Coach Parry Training Club, and it came in from Warren G. Warren said, 'Hi, coaches, please help. I've been using Goo energy gels for a long time, but always struggled with nausea and being very sick. So I thought I would try something new, I moved to the 32GI endure tablets, taking one an hour, focusing on less carbs in my diet. The challenge is I've now done two marathons and my legs absolutely shut down at 32 kilometres in both those marathons forcing me to slow walk the last six. The second one, I tried adding Cramp Ease as well. But this really has not been positive at all. Do you have any fueling advice? What should I eat before and during my next marathon?'
The ketogenic route
So, it's quite a long answer this one. And you've really got two paths that you can try from this point where you find yourself. If you want to go the low carb route for marathon and ultra marathon running, it's possible. But then you've really got to fully fat adapt and go basically ketogenic. So that means having a very low carb diet, and it means on race day, fueling yourself on products that are non-carb based things like MCT oils, macadamia nuts, you know, you'll have to do a little bit of reading there too. But that's the one route.
If you're going to fully adapt and fat adapt, then you've got to commit to it. And it's hard. And you're going to be working at it and it's going to take a good few weeks of adaptation. But once you go ketogenic, then you'll be able to go for very long periods of time on very small amounts of much more complex carbohydrates. Your 32GI tablets might be okay, but you're also going to supplement with lots of non carbohydrate sources during the run.
The low-carb diet with some tweaks around timing
The other alternative is you can carry on with your lowish carbohydrate diet, but then you have to understand that you are always going to be running a little bit low on muscle glycogen unless you make some small tweaks and those tweaks are around when do we fuel? We either need to fuel for exercise, or we need to fuel inside exercise. But the one place you have to fuel is immediately after exercise, particularly if you're going to be on a low carb diet, because that probably means you're not going to be taking in much carbohydrates outside of that very crucial 30 minute window.
So I obviously prefer the option I'm talking about now. But I always feel it's important to give both sides of the coin. So for me, you can carry on the low carb, but what it does mean is that every time you are planning very high intensity exercise, or exercise that's lasting longer than 90 minutes, you need to fuel during exercise. So that means you need to start carrying the kind of products that you're going to be using on the side of the road so that you can get used to them.
And the second, and probably more important point, is that you need to refuel. So you need to take in a high carbohydrate product 15 to 30 minutes after exercise. And I would say you're aiming for around about 750 ml's of that within 15 to 30 minutes. During exercise, we need to help you find products that don't make you feel nauseous. Now, obviously, the 32GI tabs are working from that perspective. So they're not upsetting your gut and you're not getting nausea, but you are not taking in enough.
So again, I'll take you back to my point of saying you either need to fuel for exercise or in exercise. Obviously, once exercise starts to go for a certain period of time, we will have to do some fueling in that exercise. But for you, I would look at figuring out a strategy of what you can tolerate before. And you want to be taking in some kind of high carb food before, so that might be toast with honey and slices of banana would be an example. It might be oats, with honey, or syrup or sugar, with nuts and fruit that might work for you. But you're looking for higher carbohydrate nutrient dense meal taken 30 to two hours before that event. And you'll have to figure out what timing works best for you.
Then in the race, I would look at increasing, so you've been taking one tablet an hour, and you probably need 2-3 tablets in an hour. So perhaps a tablet at each water point would be a good place to start. But essentially, you're going to keep shutting down at that point unless you figure out a way to fuel your muscles. And that's either going to be the very difficult, but in some instances extremely successful, keto way, or we know that carbohydrates are a much easier fuel, the body uses it much faster but you've got to find forms that you can take it in.
You said goos make you feel sick, but you haven't really spoken about coke and Energade or Powerade, and those sort of products that we tend to find on the side of the road. So if having too many gels is a but much for you, then you can look at taking in or supplementing the 32GI tablet with some coke or with some Powerade, so almost alternating water stations. But that's how you can increase slightly and that'll hopefully get you to the finish line.
Remember, when you go further, you might not necessarily need to fuel more, because your intensity is going to drop. And that's another thing people don't often take into account is that they want to fuel the same in Comrades, for example, as they want to fuel in a marathon. But the intensity's dropped. So that's another reason why you might get nauseous because you end up taking in too much. So between the marathon and ultra you can actually probably afford to drop it slightly in terms of frequency but you're going to continue it for a much longer period of time.
Warren, great question and best of luck on your quest to sort out your nutrition concerns.