The Science of Running: Fueling a Long Run

I missed last week’s science of running post because I had a race report to write but I came up with another science of running topic this morning. If you are training for a half-marathon or a marathon make sure you figure out a fueling plan when you are doing long runs of more than 60-90 minutes in length.

When you are going for runs longer than 60-90 minutes you need to figure out how many carbohydrates to sustain your energy levels throughout your run. For me when I am doing long training runs my usual approach is to have a protein bar before I leave the house. During my run I carry sports drink with me along with 2-3 gels.

I posted this link yesterday but in case you missed it here is a blog post that provides some tips on fueling a long run.  You can also read this article for more background on this issue.

If you don’t fuel properly for a long run can have a negative impact on your energy levels. I have experienced this a couple of times. When I ran my first marathon I ended up waking up late and not having any time to have anything to eat before the start line. This morning I also headed out for my 28 km (18 mile) run without having anything to eat before I left the house. In both instances the later stages of my runs were more difficult than they needed to be.

I mentioned above what my usual approach is for my longer training runs. After the negative experience of my first marathon I have developed a fueling strategy that has worked for my last four marathons. I now get up a few hours before the marathon and have a breakfast consisting of a bagel with peanut butter, a bowl of oatmeal, a banana and a glass of orange juice with protein powder.

How do you fuel your long runs / races?

2 thoughts on “The Science of Running: Fueling a Long Run

  1. Proper fueling continues to feel like a huge learning process for me; fortunately I haven’t had anything bad happen. I find that a slight increase in my usual carbs a couple of days before helps tremendously, moreso than the night before.

    1. I tried the increase in my carb intake a couple of days before Philly in November and it seemed to help.

      I agree it is a constant learning process.

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