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Fueling & Hydrating

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

As your distance increases your need for fuel and hydration increases as well; and when the temperature goes up you need even more to keep your body in good shape. I know people who do long distances with very little fuel and survive, but that is all they do. Remember I not only want you to survive but feel good at the end of your race, and maybe even feel like dancing the night away. So fueling & hydrating well are not only to get you through the race but aid in your recovery as well.

Hydration: Whether you run, jog or walk you need to keep hydrated. Water is fine for shorter distances; but once you hit 6 miles you should be including a sports drink that will replace the electrolytes you will lose as you sweat. There are a lot of sports drinks available. Some like Gatorade and Powerade replace electrolytes and give you carbs through simple sugars. Ultima is a low carb, sugar free product for those who need to watch sugar intake for medical reasons. Cytomax and Hydro-Boom provide the electrolytes with complex carbs and sugars to give you a sustained boost. Then there is Amino Vital powder which provides the electrolytes and carbs as well as branch-chain amino acids that help to rebuild the muscles that get torn down when doing long distances or hard-core cardio. Train with the sport drink that works best for you. But also be sure that you can handle what will be provided on the course or you will need to carry your sports drink with you during the race. You should be drinking something, even if it’s just a swallow or two every one to two miles, more often when it’s hot. Check with your MD as to what you should be using if you are diabetic.

Fuel: Fueling well on longer trainings and during your race will improve your stamina and aid in your recovery. Fuel can come in many forms. Walkers can use more types of fuel and fuel more often than runners; this is because walkers don’t have the jarring of our stomachs and we are out longer. Types of fuels include:

Gels – These are a complex carb and sugar based supplement with electrolytes included. GU, PowerGel, Clif Shots, Hammer Gels, and Stinger are just some of the gels available. My favorite is Carb-Boom; it is a carbohydrate fruit gel made of super concentrated complex carbohydrates and real fruit. For me the texture is easy to swallow and it doesn’t coat my teeth or leave a nasty aftertaste like the others and most importantly it tastes good. Make sure you wash down any gel with water to enhance its ability to be metabolized.

Energy Bars – Clif, PowerBars, Luna, Pria and Zone are just a few of the bars on the market. They are a great source of fuel but sometimes can be hard to chew. If you plan on using bars I suggest cutting them into bite sized pieces and putting them into a small zip bag.

Sport Gummies - Shot Blocks, Sharkies, Luna Moons, Sport Beans and Carb Boom Energy Chews are some of the gummies available. They have the carbs and electrolytes of gels but are textured like gummy worms. (Thanks CoVanessa for reminding me of these so I could add them to the blog).

Glucose Tablets – They can be purchased at places like Walgreens and Sam’s Club in the pharmacy area. They are nice to use for in between fueling with more carb concentrated items. I take one about every 1.5 miles if I’m not scheduled for a gel or other fuel source.

Fruit – Grapes are a great fuel because they are a high sugar fruit and they carry well.

Candy – Smarties and M&Ms are great for a quick energy burst.

Energy Drinks – If you like energy drinks they can be used in conjunction with the other items I have mentioned. My favorite is Monster.

Runners – you should fuel at least every 45 minutes.

Walkers – you need to fuel at a minimum of every 3 miles. When I did my full marathon I fueled using a small amount every mile.

What do I do?
During my ½ marathons …
Mile 1.5 – one glucose
Mile 3 – gel
Mile 4.5 – one glucose
Mile 6 – one glucose
Mile 7 – gel
Mile 8.5 – one glucose
Mile 10 – start my energy drink and sip on it throughout the rest of the race & gel or sport gummies
Mile 11.5 – one glucose

You may need to play around with fueling to find what works best for you. Don’t wait until race day to try something. Now is the time to practice fueling and hydrating.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Fantastic information! Fueling and hydrating is one thing I struggle with. Your blog helped me figure out what all the products out there are and what they do.

    Now to figure out the right combo for the hike or run.

    3709 days ago
    Great information, thanks!
    3762 days ago
    I totally agree with you that a person needs to experiment with what works for them BEFORE a big race. My first adventure race was a bit... "messy" because I used a gel that I'd never used before that my teammate gave me.
    My personal favorite is the Shot Bloks which are like gels only in the "gummy" form. But like you said - everyone's tastes and needs are different.
    3763 days ago
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