What’s Your (Running) Fuel of Choice?

Runners need to eat. It’s true. Runners need to eat before they run (depending on what time and how far they’re running), they need to eat after they run, and sometimes, depending on the distance, they even need to eat during a run. Crazy, right?

I’m linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patty for this week’s Tuesdays on the Run where the question is, “what’s your fuel of choice?”

Runners need to eat. It's true. Runners need to eat before they run (depending on what time and how far they're running), they need to eat after they run, and sometimes, depending on the distance, they even need to eat during a run. Crazy, right?  I'm linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patty for this week's Tuesdays on the Run where the question is, "what's your fuel of choice?"

Truthfully, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done any eating during a run but I know that time is coming again and I’m going to have to get things figured out so I’m doing the right things on race day.

There are so many options out there for race nutrition – gels, chomps, gummies, bars, waffle cookies, performance drinks, etc.  It can be overwhelming to go to a running store, or other sports store, and see shelf after shelf of options. I mean, how do you even know what to get?

I learned (the hard way, of course) that Gu and Clif Shots do not work for me – my tum tum vehemently said no! (isn’t vehemently a great word?!) – so I transitioned to stuff that was made with more natural ingredients, like Honey Stinger and Hammer Gel.

My coach just sent me some of these Spring gels to try out and they’re also made with natural ingredients AND do not have any maltodextrin (which is artificially produced so how can it be in a product deemed “natural?” Hmmm…..) so these may end up being in my rotation, depending what my ornery gut has to say. haha

Runners need to eat. It's true. Runners need to eat before they run (depending on what time and how far they're running), they need to eat after they run, and sometimes, depending on the distance, they even need to eat during a run. Crazy, right?  I'm linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patty for this week's Tuesdays on the Run where the question is, "what's your fuel of choice?"

What I found that used to work the best for me during marathons or really long training runs was a combination of gels, chomps (Honey Stinger brand), and the Honey Stinger waffle. Relying solely on gels, regardless of what they’re made of, causes me to rely a little more on port-a-potties.

TMI? Sorry. It’s the truth, though.

So, it’ll be an interesting transition back into eating on the run and seeing how it all goes. Especially since I’m going to be running ultras and it’s my understanding that the aid stations will have more real food.

Am I going to have to start running with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my pack? haha

The one thing I do know right now is my fuel of choice before heading out for said long run or race – oatmeal!

I’m definitely an oatmeal and fruit girl with a small cup of coffee to … ahem … get things going before I get going, if you know what I mean. I try to eat about 90-120 minutes before a race (I’ll do less time before a training run but I also eat less and plan to eat earlier on the run so I’m not up at 3am on a Saturday. #sleepwins) so I can digest everything and be comfortable before I head to the start line.

Want more information on nutrition for runners, including nutrient timing, and what to eat before and after a run to best benefit your training and your recovery? I just finished up an amazing Fit and Fueled Nutrition Course for runners from Laura at Mommy Run Fast and I learned so much.

I’ve been out of the “training game” for a bit and I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned immediately and I’ve seen the difference in my running.  I highly recommend taking this course if you’re looking to take your running to the next level with nutrition. The next one kicks off in March!

Tell me:

  • How do you fuel during a long run or a race?
  • Have you run any ultras? What should I expect to find at aid stations?
  • What’s your go-to pre-race meal?

24 COMMENTS

  1. Chocolaterunsjudy | 8th Feb 18

    I highly recommend a cookbook Rocket Fuel. That’s where the cookies I use are from. They’re not regular cookies, but it seems to work for me. YMMV.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 9th Feb 18

      I’m definitely going to check that cookbook out! I love cookbooks anyway so of course I need to add to my collection. 🙂

  2. Lisa | 7th Feb 18

    I would definitely be more interested in trying some of the gels that have more natural ingredients. I think I actually got one of those Spring gels in a Stridebox so I will need to give it a try.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 7th Feb 18

      If you try it, I’d definitely be interested in hearing your thoughts!

  3. Wendy | 6th Feb 18

    I’m interested in hearing more about those gels! I have trouble stomaching anything during a run–I carry Tailwind with me and that’s about all I can handle. Sometimes even that makes me nauseous. I continue to experiment with the dilution.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 7th Feb 18

      I have never heard of Tailwind. I struggle with drinking anything other than water on a run because sports drinks dry my mouth out. Is it similar to Gatorade? I usually try to carry Smart Water with me but I know that won’t be enough during a 50k. I’m going to have to start experimenting with other stuff.

  4. Sarah Bergman | 6th Feb 18

    I’d love to hear what you think about those Spring gels! They definitely look interesting…

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 7th Feb 18

      I’m excited to try them! If I can keep the ick at bay, I should have a run long enough to need fueling this weekend. Maybe I’ll share a review or something?

  5. Kimberly Hatting | 6th Feb 18

    I’ve done two ultra’s, but both were at the same event (one year I ran the 6-hour, and the following year, I ran the 12-hour). They had real food, and it was so awesome….fruit, chips (for the salt), Coke, burritos, pizza, candy, pancakes….It was great! No GI distress at all 😉

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 7th Feb 18

      You had me at pancakes!! Haha

  6. Chocolaterunsjudy | 6th Feb 18

    Many ultras have a really big spread. Even the small ones.

    I like a mixture of HS chews & home made cookies — I don’t do gels at all any more.

    But I also haven’t run long enough in a long time to have to eat anything on the run. And thankfully, getting things going (so far) is rarely a problem for me. My stomach isn’t iron, but it’s pretty tough & well trained. I know that can change as I age, though!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 7th Feb 18

      If you want to make me cookies, I’ll happily eat them on the run. Haha! Actually, that’s not a bad idea because you get to control the ingredients!

  7. Rach @ Girl On The Run | 6th Feb 18

    I like clif shot bloks during a marathon, but I can’t see I have ever done an ultra! For a half iron (not nearly as long as an ultra) I mix it up tailwind on the bike and the bloks on the run…so maybe mixing it up during the ultra may help too?

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 6th Feb 18

      Thanks, Rach! Mixing it up is probably the right idea. I keep hearing about Tailwind. I have no idea what that is. Lol! Is it a sports drink?

  8. Lesley | 6th Feb 18

    I never had fuel backfire on me, but the chews are easy to digest. The only GUs I was able to use was Honey Stinger, but I much prefer the chews to anything.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 6th Feb 18

      I like the chews, too. Seems more substantial than liquid nourishment.

  9. Lacey@fairytalesandfitness | 6th Feb 18

    It depends on how long of a run I plan to do. I can go up to 7 miles without fueling beforehand but once I get into double digits I like to eat an english muffin with peanut butter. During my ultra they actually had food at aid stands rather than just GU and Gatorade. Like chips, pretzels, and gummy bears, and even Coke…..yum! I didn’t feel guilty eating or drinking any of it.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 6th Feb 18

      Yeah, me too on the shorter runs. I just head out the door fasted (maybe a swig of OJ, if my tummy is making a little noise?) for anything less than 8 or so. When you were training for your ultra, what did you fuel with on a long training run? And I wouldn’t feel guilty either! Especially not about the gummy bears. Haha

  10. Marcia | 6th Feb 18

    I never had a problem with gels until last fall in Vegas. Now I wonder if I need to rethink my fuel. When I crewed for my friend at the Leadville 50 miler. there was not a gel in sight. So much food at those aid stations!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 6th Feb 18

      That’s what I hear about those aid stations! I’m going to have to start training with real food. Thankfully, I have plenty of time to figure out what works!

  11. Amanda Brooks | 6th Feb 18

    I’ve never been a lover of gels, they always mess up my stomach. Luckily I don’t need a lot on the run, but have found dried pineapple to be great!

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 6th Feb 18

      I agree with the gels. I can only do so much. I really like the dried pineapple idea!! I can definitely get behind real food. Thanks, Amanda!

  12. Kim (@kookyrunner) | 6th Feb 18

    I can barely eat anything before a long run – usually just a piece of dry toast. I use Tailwind for my hydration and technically it has enough calories to act as fuel, but i still need to take in 1-2 honey stinger gels (fruit punch is my favorite flavor). I used to eat honey stinger waffles but they started to mess with my tummy.

    I’m hoping to sign up for the next Fit and Fueled Nutrition Course. Granted I’ll be at the end of my training cycle by then but it’s still good to have that knowledge.

    • Jennifer
      Jennifer | 6th Feb 18

      I haven’t tried the fruit punch flavor! I normally do basic vanilla. Sometimes, I don’t want to eat before a long run either but I try to make myself. Unless I totally pigged out the night before and ate later than normal. Haha!

      You totally should! It’s definitely good to have that knowledge and you’ll be able to apply it right away and use it throughout all your training cycles!

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