Fuel for Long Runs - Feeling good all the way to the end!

Hello everyone!  I hope you’ve all had a great weekend training and everything is going to plan, let me know how it’s all going? Are you getting excited yet?

This week I wanted to talk about fuel for your longer training runs.. by that I mean anything over 90 minutes.  How to go about it, ideas of things you can take, things you might want to avoid and also let you know what I tend to do.  From the outset I’d just like to say there certainly isn’t a right or wrong answer here and every person is different, what works for me may not work for you so please use this as guide and feel free to add in what works for you below too!

Your long run will give you the perfect opportunity to tinker with your fuel plan so you can be as confident as possible on race day.  Practice now, for race day success! 

I’m going to split this up into sections to make it easier to read and digest, so let’s go!

1 - 2 hours before your weekend long run.

For a lot of people this will mean breakfast.  For me it’s 2 bagels, peanut butter and jam… then some sports carbohydrate drink.  Simple, easy to digest and I know that won’t give me any stomach troubles.  Some other good options could be porridge, cereal, toast, bananas, granola.  As a plant based runner they suit my diet, but I know that won’t be for everyone, so you might also look at pancakes, waffles, fruit and yoghurt, muffins or eggs on toast.  Long story short, try a few different things and go with the option that you digest the best!  It’s always good to hydrate properly in the morning, so I always have a pint of water when I get up, regardless of if I’m running or not. 

30 Minutes before your run.

I’d have around 1 pint of water or carbohydrate drink. 

During the run.

I’d recommend having some form of energy intake around every 30-45 minutes, while you’re running. In general this means 30 to 50 grams of carbs every hour.  For many this will mean taking some gels with you.  Our body can store enough energy for around 1 1/2 to 2 hours of running and if we do nothing about it, we hit the dreaded wall. But if you take on board fuel, early on, we can delay this process happening, by keeping our glycogen levels topped up..and us running strong! 

If you don’t like gels then look at other food items you enjoy, such as bananas, raisins, jelly sweets, or purely sports drinks.  But you have to factor in what you can have with you on race day.  

What do you like using?  This is some of my selection at the moment!

What do you like using? This is some of my selection at the moment!

But what about carrying everything on training runs?

Ah yes, there is no perfect solution here.  My shorts have pockets for gels, so can easily carry 4 or 5 at a time. Some people will have handheld water bottles, others will have fuel belts to store gels or even hydration packs where you can put everything in. For me I do some of my long runs on a short loop, where I can grab a bottle  that I’ve hidden in a bush.  There is no harm in stopping for a few minutes to take some fuel or drink on board. 

Spibelt is what I use.. click here for more info!

You could also ask a friend or family member to cycle alongside you and hand you water and gels when you need. It is a nice way for them to be involved in your training and provides you with a bit of company whilst being able to run free!


What works well?

I’d suggest trying a few different brands and seeing which one works well for you.  If you have no idea where to start then have a look at Science in Sport, High 5, Wiggle, Lucozade and I personally use Maurten (sparingly as they are expensive!) If you are looking for a more natural option then have a look for Spring Energy and if you think you’d prefer a jelly based one then look up Clif Bar Shot Bloks.  If you have something you are particularly passionate about then let everyone know in the comments down below and let’s all share what is good?!

Weather

In the cold your body actually uses more energy to stay warm, than it would in the heat to stay cool.  Coupled with the fact sweat will evaporate quickly in the cold, you may not feel the urge to drink and hydrate as much.  I always say drink to thirst, but you will have to remind yourself a bit more if it’s cold out.  You may also want to take some electrolyte tablets if you are lucky enough to be training in the heat at the moment.  

Race Day

Your training is not just about putting the miles in, it’s about putting together a solid fuelling and hydration strategy in place and practicing it! So get your plan together now, for what you want to do on the race.  If you plan to use the gels and drinks that are being provided by the race, then find out what they are and practice with them now.  If you want to use your own, then work out how you will carry them on race day and how many you want to be taking.  Practice practice practice! 


This is what key UK races will be giving out in 2019.  (Please double check though!)

London - Lucozade Gels at miles 14 and 21.5

Brighton - High 5 Energy Gel Aqua and High 5 Zero  - miles 5 / 11 / 15 / 20.

Manchester - Optimum Nutrition Gels - miles 6 / 9 / 11 / 22 / 24

Edinburgh - High 5 Gels - miles 9 / 16.2 / 21.75 / 24.25

Liverpool - Science in Sport Gels - miles 7.2 / 15.7 / 18.3 / 22.2


Keeping notes

After each run I’d suggest making a note about what worked well and what didn’t.  Then over time you’ll be able to build a picture of food and gels you like. 

Avoid copying others

Runners ask me all the time what gels I use, or drinks I take.  It’s very nice to be asked, but what I use might not necessarily work for you.  So by all means take what others use for a starting point, but try out a few different brands and find one that you like.  

Post Run

After your run, the recovery process starts, so try and get some food on board within 15-30 minutes of finishing.  A simple carbohydrate and protein snack will be sufficient.  I personally don’t have ‘recovery shakes’, unless it’s been a super hard run.. I just blend up some frozen fruit, nuts and almond milk.  It’s amazing the amount of elite athletes that will say chocolate milk is the best recovery option around, and it’s super cheap and easily available!


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So there we have it everyone.  I fully appreciate that in 2019 there are so many different and varied diets out there.. and with that you have to try and find your plan and what you’re happy with!  Feel free to ask any other questions and I’ll get back to everyone down below! 

Have a great week!

Ben