Whether you are running long runs to train for a half or full marathon, or just to stay in shape, there are several ways to fuel a long run. Fueling is a critical component during your long run. Fueling with carbohydrates during longer runs will prevent you from running out of energy and help boost your performance. With long runs it is important to fuel before and during the run to maintain your blood glucose level. Now let me share my ways to fuel a long run which have helped me to train for 19 marathons...
1. Try Energy Gels
Many runners like to fuel with energy gels because they're easy to carry and digest and this is simple to eat while you are running. Since this is processed, I try to have whole food instead but sometimes on over twenty mile runs, energy gels do work the best. The convenience of energy gels tops the ways to fuel a long run!
2. Coconut Water is Healthy
I find training with coconut water is a great way to replenish. It is convenient, since I can drop the coconut water the night before or morning before I run my long runs, along my route. Coconut water is a healthy option because it is loaded with potassium, in fact much more than any sports drink. Potassium helps to maintain water balance and helps trigger muscles to perform their best.
3. Maybe Some Fruit
Another great option to fuel a long run is having a piece of fruit (apples, banana, peach, grapes). By having fruit mid long run, you are avoiding having a highly processed gel and fueling your body.
4. Try a Sandwich
Peanut butter and jelly is a great sandwich to restore energy and fuel a long run. But do not worry, you do not have to run your twenty mile run with a lunch bag; store this sandwich along your running route. You can also put this sandwich out right before you run. A half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will provide your body with sugars, carbohydrates and protein!
5. What about Energy Drinks?
Energy drinks like Gatorade and Powerade work great for many runners in fueling their long runs because they have electrolytes to balance hydration. If this works for you then bring along energy drinks, but I do not recommend having a sports drink if you are fueling with your fruit or energy gels. If you over fuel you can overload your glucose levels and actually become lethargic.
6. Do Energy Chews Work?
A general rule of thumb is to take in about 100 calories after an hour of running, and then another 100 calories every 50 minutes after that. Many energy chews of sports gels contain 100 calories, so it's easy to keep track of how many calories you're consuming... so yes, chews are an easy way to fuel.
7. Just Regular Water
Water is great because it will help you restore the loss of fluids, but water should be combined with one of the other fueling methods so you restore electrolytes. You can alternate every few miles with water, then coconut water or sports drinks.
I find coconut water to work best as my fuel for long runs. I have learned from my nine years of experience as a trainer and twenty years as a runner to maintain the same pre, during and post nutrition on training runs and race day. By having coconut water during long runs to maintain my glucose level, my body gets accustomed to a schedule and I follow this same routine on my half or full marathon race day! Remember to watch how your body responds and find what works best for your body when it comes to fueling for your run! What race are you training for and what is your longest run?