There is so much that goes into running well. Good form, flexibility, strength, endurance, training, and good shoes. An often neglected aspect of running well is nutrition.
There are two main aspects of fueling on a run: hydration and fueling.
The main goal is to maintain energy levels for actively working muscles. Every runner has a unique “fuel economy” for a given pace, there is no one-size fits all approach for the perfect on-run fueling technique. Here are some key variables when considering fueling during a run:
- If your run is less than 30 minutes fueling is not usually needed.
- If your run is 30-60 some runners will benefit from fueling in-run.
- If you are running more than a hour, you need to fuel.
- When choosing a fuel source, it is important that the carbohydrate concentration is not too high – this can cause abdominal discomfort. Energy drinks use 6-8 percent carbohydrate per serving.
- Choose a source that is easy for you to digest (gel, goo, bars, etc.) Everyone is different in terms of what works best.
- Consider using small fuel intake several times as opposed to one larger fuel load.
As with any “new” addition to your regime, make sure to take time to incorporate these strategies into your training runs. Use mid-week training runs to practice fueling techniques for your race, and make adjustments to find a fuel recipe that your body responds well to and stick with your best fueling strategy on race day. Never start a new fueling program on a race day!
Enjoy your run!
Ryan Petering. M.D. specializes in Sports Medicine and Family Medicine. He also has special interest in Pediatric Care, Primary Care Sports Medicine, Recreational Athletes, and Wilderness Medicine.