Fueling your body before, during, and after long runs (I’m talking 10+ miles here) involves a lot of trial and error in figuring out what works best for your body. It’s definitely important to find some kind of fuel that works for you, since consuming carbohydrates during a long run will help sustain blood glucose and muscle glycogen levels – and this will help delay fatigue and exhaustion.
You don’t have to go out and buy the special gels or chews to get you through your long run – but if those work for you, stick with it! Gels do give a quick energy boost and are easy to eat, so they do have certain benefits. However, they don’t always mesh well with everyone’s digestive systems. Alternatively, there are plenty of homemade and packaged options that utilize whole, nutritious foods that may be more compatible with a sensitive stomach. You might even have some in your pantry right now!
There are SO many options out there for what to eat DURING a run, but I’ll list some of the more well-known ones below.
Long Run Fuel Options
∇ PowerBar Energy Gels, Blasts and Sports Drink Mix
∇ GU Energy Gels and Chews – my Dad has used these for years
∇ Clif Shot Blocks – these are vegan (no gelatin or anything) and I actually love them!
∇ Honey Stinger – they make energy gels and chews, waffles, bars and honey packets
∇ Dates – try making nut butter stuffed dates!
∇ Dried fruit – ex: mango, pineapple or apricots
∇ Pretzels – simple to digest and the sodium will aid in replenishing lost electrolytes
Other tips to remember
∇ Take time to experiment and figure out what works best for your body.
∇ Test out new kinds of fuel on shorter runs (6-8 miles), rather than when you’re out running 20 miles.
∇ Stay hydrated! Important not only on the long run day, but the entire week leading up to the long run.
∇ Make notes of what works or doesn’t work, what time of your run you took the fuel, etc. to help you perfect your long run fueling routine.
∇ Don’t feel pressured to keep using anything you didn’t like, even if it’s highly recommended by other runners. You’ll find something that works for YOU.
P.S. If you want to check out a good sample fueling timeline, click here.
What are you favorite things to eat during a long run? Comment below!