Fueling your long runs
For many runners training for a marathon, the weekly ‘long run’ is a daunting undertaking. It is often hours at a time out pounding the road, with each week the distance getting longer and closer to those famous 42.2 kilometers. The aim is obvious; building up your physical and mental endurance levels, ready for race day, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Fueling properly before, during and after your long run can hugely help how you feel and perform both during the run and afterwards, both that day and during your next run.
Carbohydrates are your primary source of fuel for medium to high intensity exercise like running.
Before your run: A breakfast or snack of oats, wholewheat or multigrain bread or fruit will help build a ready supply. Your body also has some carbohydrate reserves called glycogen. The aim is to avoid your carbohydrate supplies being depleted while you are out running. When they get too low, this is famously called hitting the wall, or bonking.
During your run: you can use simple carbohydrates like energy gels or chew to help keep those reserves topped up. XACT ENERGY fruit bars (the official on-course energy) are a tasty and easy way to stay fueled during your run.
Afterwards: a combination of carbohydrates and protein will help replace lost glycogen reserves and have you feeling refueled faster – so important if you are training every day (sometimes twice a day). A ratio of around 3:1 carbs to protein is recommended. For example, 15 grams of protein and 45 grams of carbs is similar to a bagel with peanut butter, or an XACT PROTEIN wafer bar and a banana.
Our top 5 tips for fueling your long run:
- Aim to make your pre-run carbohydrate snack easy to digest and give yourself 1-2 hours before your run. This important meal will help top up your reserves and allow time to digest before running. Porridge or a banana are good ideas. Charcuterie and leftover curry, not so much.
- These training runs are the ideal time to test your nutrition intake, you are training guts as much as your legs. Can you manage fueling more often, or prefer nibbling regularly? Find out during your runs. Also, this is the time to test different products, find what works for you.
- Start fueling early during your run. Don’t wait until you are hungry or feeling like your energy is down. By getting a few calories into your body from the beginning of your race, you’ll do better to avoid bonking, plus you will keep your digestive system active.
- Same as on race day, aim to fuel with 100 calories of simple carbs every 30-45 minutes. This is where energy gels and chews come in handy. XACT ENERGY fruit bars have exactly 100 calories and are easy to eat while you run.
- Post run, aim to eat a mix of carbs and protein within about an hour of your run. This will help rebuild your energy faster. Super important, if that marathon plan has another training coming up soon!
These weekly long runs are a big part of marathon training. They may be long and tiring but they pay off. Go with the flow, listen to your body and come race day you’ll be feeling that bit more ready to get it done. Best of luck!