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  • Great information! I have been feeling a little I’ll after my long runs so I was wondering about all the necessary h20/carb/electrolyte requirements, so this post is great. All the information I need in one place, thank you!

  • What’s your take on number 5 in light of people who avoid carbs? I’m not one of those, but I remember you mentioning once that you tried almonds on your run after speaking with some ultrarunner.

    1. Evan, great question! That’s kind of what I meant with #6, that for ultras, where you are almost always below the anaerobic threshold (and thus burning fat, not sugar), the nutrition should focus on fat more than carbohydrate. For shorter, more intense runs, you burn mostly sugar, so they become very difficult without sugar and the risk of bonking is high (this even includes a marathon, unless you’re taking it really easy).
      There is also the school of thought that if you get less-than-optimal nutrition during training (like, little sugar/carbs), then your body will be better for it because it adapts to the circumstances. I don’t know where I stand on this one; I haven’t had much success with it. Runners who avoid carbs because of a diet restriction are essentially doing this type of training, whether they intend to or not.

  • During my “lighter” days I run 20 minutes and my more intense ones are 30, 40 max if I’m feeling really energetic, but I’ve never consumed anything during the run.
    I’m afraid that I could feel the water slush inside of me if I drank half a cup or so every 10 minutes. Is this the case or does it help you regain some stamina? Anything that could act as a pick-me-up on the boring treadmill runs (not a fan of cold weather) would be great, maybe I’ll give the water a try.
    .-= Daniel´s last blog ..Recappin’ =-.

    1. Daniel, I’m not really sure if you’d feel it sloshing around during workouts. I’ve never consciously followed a guideline like that; I just drink when I’m thirsty. But now that I’ve learned all this, I’m going to try it. Also, it doesn’t have to be every ten minutes. Maybe for you, only every 20 minutes is needed.
      I don’t think you’ll feel any kind of rejuvenating effects of drinking water on a relatively short runs, unless perhaps you are dehydrated beforehand.

  • Thanks for all that great info. I know sodium is one thing I don’t even think about when replenishing during or after exercise

  • I understand and agree that it’s best to get off the commercial drinks and gels. However, I hate carrying my own water and so have to drink whatever the marathon offers. I tried making some fig/date things from THRIVE and took them on a run and ended up with a gooey mess in saran wrap, but there’s a good chance I made them wrong. =) Short of hiring a sherpa to run alongside me, I’ll probably be sticking with the gels and Gatorade. =(

  • Nice post man. I do have a question though… I have been consuming my homemade energy drinks during my long runs, but zero to no water. Does the energy drink replace the water or should I still have both. I ran my second half marathon last weekend and supplemented with water from two aid stations, but didn’t finish the whole cup on either. So, just wondering about that. I’ve been intending to go back over Brenden’s book again just for some review. I tend to forget things if I’m not constantly putting them into practice or teaching others.
    .-= Caleb´s last blog ..Smoothie Tuesday: Nectarine, peach blast cacao smoothie =-.

    1. Caleb, good question; I completely forgot to mention that. Yes, the sports drink replaces the water, ounce for ounce. But I have read that if you’re eating, say, energy gel, you should generally wash it down with water, not sports drink. Maybe the reason is just that it might be too much sugar and sodium?

  • Wow, great post. I love the specifics about how to plan a run for fuel consumption.
    Thanks for doing the research for us! I’ll definitely use it for my spring training.
    I also am around Mile 25 of the Boston Marathon every year … I’d love to know your number so I can cheer you on!
    .-= Lisa Johnson´s last blog ..How to Put on a Sports Bra =-.

  • I’ve had a problem with fueling recently as I increased my mileage to train for my first half. I carry my own ‘sports drink’ with me that is a take on one of Brendan’s. It includes coconut water, spirulina, lemon juice and a squirt of agave. I have NOT found a fuel replacement though and just can’t choke down Gu’s or Moons or anything candy like. I am going to give honey a shot on my next long run after reading Megan’s post over on Running Shorts since I do like honey, hopefully that will work.
    Great post Matt!!

  • I get the nutrition before and after a run but the during has always been a mystery to me. Thanks, Matt. I really needed this all in one place. Eight days to that first half.
    .-= Nicki´s last blog ..A Year Gone By =-.

  • Saw your link over on the Fruit Not Fat website. Thanks for the exercise tips! I run 4-5 days a week and have a half-marathon coming up in one month.

  • Loved the post. I don’t think you will succeed in getting me off meat, but the detail in your post, especially regarding liquids/water.

  • I enjoy your writings & am learning a lot as I am somewhat of a beginner & am striving to eat less meat/animal products etc. I would encourage you to leave out the bad language, it is not necessary to get your point across & in that way you won’t offend anyone.

  • My question…how do you carry all this and run? I have a water belt that holds 2 10 oz bottles. It also can hold 1 pack of Clif Blocks. Clif Blocks do not contain enough sodium, after reading this post I checked.
    I am attempting an 11 mile run tomorrow. Last week I completed a 10 mile run on 20 ounces of water and 3 Clif blocks. Is that not enough? I felt good after. I would love to know your thoughts. I did eat breakfast that morning about 2 hours before I went.
    Thanks !!!!!

  • This post is excellent! I’d like to recommend a book which really offers some food for thought on the subject. It’s an amazing read with a lot of practical tips mixed into what is a great life story of an ultra runner. It’s called “Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness” by Scott Jurek.
    This book more than motivated me to get back into running again. It has helped change my outlook and beliefs on food and nutrition.

  • I’ve been using home made energy bars (Thrive recipe) and an electrolyte mix (electrolyte powder mixed with water, no sweeteners, etc) and I’ve never had any issues with my energy levels on my long runs (up to 4h) or any stomach issues despite that the only thing I usually “eat” before is a big smoothie. I do need to get better at rehydrating afterwards (particularly adding electrolytes) but that’s another story.

  • Matt,
    “Except for the longest events, skip the solids.”
    Define “longest.” Seriously. I’m training for my second marathon–my first as a vegan. I powered myself with Gu the first time around. for all the same reasons, I’m not using them in my training. Your homemade gel (with chia seeds) is working well. I was considering complementing that with dried fruit–specifically dates, figs, and/or apricots, which all have lots of carbs and are portable. (As an added bonus, apricots also have a ton of potassium!)
    I guess my question is this: I have 3 long training runs before the event (Nike Women’s in SF), so I still have time to experiment. Is it worth my time to test dried fruit for gastric distress, or would it generally be a bad idea not worth pursuing? Thanks for the feedback.
    Doug (aka The Meatless Marathoner)

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