Blog for Rejoov Runners By Lisa Sherman, Nutritionist
Mobile 0413 580 608
Fuel during runs
An important but sometimes overlooked part of training is your nutrition during long sessions. Runners often want to know how much they need to eat during a long run, or what type of food works best. There are general guidelines around amount of energy you need to consume depending on length of session or event and I discuss these in more detail below. But in terms of what food works best – the simple answer is what works best for you and what you have tried in training.
During your long training sessions, you want to experiment with various foods and fuel sources and determine what works best for you to replenish your energy stores, keep you moving, and importantly doesn’t cause a stomach or other digestive upset. You want to aim for energy sources that are easily absorbed, low fibre and low fat foods in the form of carbohydrate to provide quick energy, and a small amount of protein can be helpful to assist with recovery and muscle health.
During my summer training for both swimrun and run events, I’ve experimented with a range of different foods from mashed sweet potato carried in easy to tear open ziplock pouches, dried dates and figs and a range of different gels and chews. It’s always good to have a few different options that work for you so that you can mix it up depending on your session, or if you can’t get your preferred energy source on event day.
As mentioned, the amount of energy or fuel required and when, depends on the length of your session or event. It also varies of course depending on the individual and some prolonged sessions may require more fuel to maximise performance. But as a general guide:
· Less than 75mins, no fuel needed
· 75mins to 3 hours, 30-60g carbohydrate per hour
· More than 3 hours, 30-90g carbohydrate per hour
So what does 30g carbohydrate look like? Below are some ideas that you might want to try on your next training session.
· Small banana or ¼ cup raisins/sultanas (small packet) – 30g
· 3 medjool dates – 30g
· 10 halves dried apricots – 30g
· 4 medium dried figs – 30g
· 1 applesauce squeeze packet – 20-25g
· 1 small or half a large potato (salted boiled or sweet potato) – 30g
· 1 slice white bread with 2 tablespoons honey/jam – 45g
· 2 tablespoons honey – 30g
· Packaged concentrated gels such as Huma gels (made from chia seeds), Endura, Gu, Tailwind etc. Definitely need to trial these prior to event day as they are a variety of flavours, some have caffeine or additional sodium to help replenish what is lost during exercise.
· High-carbohydrate sports bars – varies (check label)
· 10 jelly beans – 30g (check label)
You will also need to ensure you are taking on regular and adequate fluid in the form of water and electrolytes. Some runners may also find it helpful to consume a light meal 30-60mins prior to the session or event (depending on what works best for you and what you have tried in the past). Some good options for pre-session energy boost are a small banana, slice of bread with peanut or nut butter, honey or jam.
And always remember the golden rule for an event – don’t try anything new or that you haven’t tried in training!