Now that you know what to eat before your long run, the next question is…
What should I eat or consume during my long run?
When you run for under 90 minutes, most of your energy comes from stored muscle glycogen. However, if you’re running for longer than 90 minutes, the sugar in your blood and liver glycogen become more important because your stored muscle glycogen gets depleted. Basically, if you are running for more than 90 minutes, it would be smart to fuel on the run to prevent yourself from running out of energy (bonking). Simple carbohydrates are the easiest form quick absorbing energy.
There are several ways to get adequate carbohydrates on a run:
- The simplest and most obvious way to get carbohydrates on a run is through sports drinks. My stomach has trouble with them, but try giving them a shot and see if they work for you.
- Some people prefer to eat solid foods, but they should be small and easy to carry. There are numerous products on the market, such as energy gels, bars, and even sports jelly beans, designed for runners to eat while running. I really like Clif Shots and they work well for me.
- Other runners prefer to eat pretzels, candy, or dried fruit. I know some crazy people that even drink beer
Start experimenting with different foods, gels, and bars on your long runs to see what works for you. Again, what works well for some, might not work for others.
As a rule of thumb, you should probably take in about 100-250 calories for every hour (or 30-60 grams of carbohydrates) of running.
This will vary depending on your height, weight, and running intensity, but it serves as a great base to experiment with. This is one of the reasons why we train!
The idea behind this principal is that you should being fueling before the onset of fatigue. If you begin to take in fuel when you are starting to feel run down, it might be too late and your body may not recover. However, if you begin fueling early, you’ll be much better off during the final miles.
How do you fuel on a long run?