Once upon a time, I was not the smartest runner. I did not realize the importance of fuel and hydration. I just got out there and went. I did not really see a need to eat or drink while running or training for a half marathon. In my mind, I was out there to lose weight, so why would I be eating while doing it? I used to think people were crazy for needing to eat so early on in the event. Come on people it is only a mere 13.1 miles I thought why are you shooting back food like you did not eat a mere hour beforehand. Boy, was I wrong!!!
Major, major fail Steph. In fact, when I finally did wise up, I just remember thinking that eating while running was like CHEATING. I had such a burst of energy and felt soo much better when I ate and drank while running that I just could not believe it was even allowed. It is pretty darn amazing, if you ask me.
While eating while running can result in some awesome results, it is also, the source of much anxiety and problems for myself as well as many other runners. If you eat too much, you may end of with stomach cramps or even worse in the bathroom (knock on wood). If you pick the wrong food, your body may react funny. If you eat too little, you might hit the pervival wall. And let's not even begin to talk about timing - when do you eat? When you are hungry, before you are hungry? At the hour mark? At 5 miles? At 3 miles? This has anxiety written all over it folks. So where or who do you turn to for advice? Dean who is very wise noted:
Get advice from everyone, listen to no one
Meaning what works for one person may not work for you. Sure Dean can eat pizza like a burrioto and then wash it down with cheesecake, but I am, unfortunately, not that cool! So what are you left to do but practice? Think about works for you and try it out in your training runs - easy, right? Well, while I have come a long way from my original no eating mentally, I have not perfected eating while running to date. During my training runs, I have been eating at about an hour and then going from there with drinking every two miles (this has come from trial and error). But my last 20 miler proved that maybe I need more or need to be doing something different...
Enlisting the experts, I have been told that depending on your size you need 100 to 250 calories an hour, after the first hour! For me, specifically I have been told by some that I need 200 but others say that I need less. Needless to say this has been the source of much anxiety for me. And ultimately, there is not a lot of time left until my marathon and so many questions remain - what to eat? when to eat? how much to eat? how to actually get that food ( I can't just order like Dean on the day of the marathon, or can I)?
So what is a girl to do? Through some very helpful women, I have come up with a plan for me. I am not sure if this is going to work, but I am going to give it a whirl, keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best on race day.
Steph's Plan to Fuel Right During a Marathon
1) Every 30-45 minutes fuel after the first hour (as long as your stomach will allow it) with food (about 50-100 calories worth) Other than that, water or nuun every 2 miles, potentially less.
2) Fuel options - different for everyone. I personally know that GU & Shot Bloks work. I am also interested in trying Mini-Snicker Bars, Pretzels & Bananas.
3) Steph's Aid Stations On the Go - if at all possible carry some of your fuel and hydration or have someone there helping you. Whether someone is running with you or you have planted someone along the way, this will ensure that you have all your fuel at your disposal.
4) Breakfast - breakfast is going to fuel you for the first hour of the race. For me, it is a scoop of PB, English Muffin, and a Banana as well as 16 oz of water/nuun. Others can do more, others less. Just do your best..
5) When all else fails, listen to your body. If you need water, drink. If you are hungry or feel your energy dropping, eat. Be prepared (if you can, have people along the course with different choices for you, when you come to them shout out what you want so they will have it ready). Know your options (is the course offering Gatorade - what flavor?; what kind of Shot Bloks will they have).
That's it folks. That is all I have learned to date. Now it is your turn, how do you fuel and hydrate? Any advice for me? When do you fuel and how much?