Thursday, September 26, 2013

How I fuel for 26.2

Disclosure: The following post does not endorse any product mentioned. Brands are stated for the sole purpose of letting you know what I eat. I am not sponsored by or affiliated with any of these companies; I am just a happy, running customer. All opinions, therefore, are completely honest and 100% my own.

Race day fueling strategies are as varied as the runners themselves. What works for me might be terrible for you, but I thought I'd share so you have one more perspective.

To start with, the day of a marathon (or a long run), I make sure to have a decent breakfast. My favorites include pancakes with a large glass of milk or grits with chia. If you're a grits girl/guy, try hydrating some chia and mixing it in once your grits are ready. You won't even notice the texture of them!

Buttery, salty grits with chia! YUM.

Last Saturday, I woke at 4:30 and had pumpkin pancakes, some kombucha with chia (warning: the texture of it is terrible! I have to down it like a shot, and even then I gag. But chia really seems to help keep my blood sugar level), milk, and coffee.

*Pancakes travel really well- make them ahead of time and freeze them and they become a hearty, portable breakfast. And if you forget a plate to use to heat them in the microwave, paper ads from your race swag bag will work in a pinch. :)

Since I knew I'd have a decent wait between catching the 5:30 shuttle and the 7:30 race start, I brought along a Clif Kid Zbar.

 And I had some Nuun in my water bottle leftover from overnight (Anyone else require water by their bedside? Not just before a race, either. I always wake up thirsty!).

I ate the Clif bar at 6:30, giving it plenty of time to move along.
Mmm, salted caramel!!!! 
 Once the marathon began, I started in on the Gu. I take one about every 3 miles, and it takes about half a mile to get it down. I try to eat them slowly so that I don't overload my stomach. I know for some people, every 3 miles would be way too frequently, but it works for me.

Personally, I prefer Gu gels over other brands because of their texture. I know people who prefer other brands' gels for the same reason, though, so try a few and figure it out.

During the Air Force Marathon, it took 8 gels. I brought 6 with me, and was able to snag 2 from aid stations. When you require as much fuel as I do, it helps to know how many you can get one course. I knew there were at least 2 aid stations with gels, and that it took 7 to get through my last marathon, so I only relied on getting 1 (but was grateful for the second!).

I've learned over the past year that I cannot eat bananas during a run. They make me hurl. Post run, they're awesome, but during? Not unless you want to see my guts!

Some of my other favorite fuels are Clif Shot Bloks, Sport Beans, and in a pinch, good old fashioned fruit snacks.
It all comes down to what works for YOU. My husband can run a half without a single fuel item. He's a beast. I know I can run at an easy pace for 6 miles without food, but if I want to push the pace or go further, I need fuel to fight off blood sugar issues.

This is probably the most valuable thing you can learn from those long runs. Find the fuels that work before, during, and after.

What is your favorite fuel?

Bananas: love them or hate them?

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