Tips For Fueling During A Long Run

This post is from our CHAARG Run Club RD — Lydia Nader [@fuelwithnader].Lydia is a sports nutritionist + athlete… + as a CHAARG Run Club member, you will be able to ask her any questions you have on nutrition + running [she’ll be in the Slack channel ; )]. Get to know Lydia more by listening to her on The CHAARG Podcast — episode #85, all about marathons!

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When training for a race longer than 6.2 miles, you will be out running for longer than an hour. When you are out exercising for that long, you burn a lot of calories to keep powering your body forward, + you do not have enough stored energy to keep going at the same intensity + pace for over 90 minutes. To keep the same pace + avoid excessive muscle breakdown, you need to have a fueling plan for when on a run longer than 60 minutes!

Your body uses approximately 1 gram of carbohydrates per minute of exercise, though every person burns at a different rate ++ it also depends on the length of overall time of the exercise. For those shorter long runs, maybe the tempo run, you might be out running between 45 minutes + 75 minutes, so have a little bit of carbs to boost your energy so you don’t deplete your glycogen too far at the end of the run. If you are going out for a 1 to 2 hour run, I recommend consuming anywhere from 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of an exercise longer than 90 minutes. If you are going out for 3 to 4 hours [your longest runs!], you could even go up to 80 grams of carbs per hour. 

Once you know your average pace on a run, you will know how much to fuel with on a run. Remember, when figuring out the amount of carbs your body needs, this is a number you should work up to. Luckily, the CHAARG Run Club training plan allows you to train at small amounts of carbs during a run + work up to 60+ grams of carbs per hour. This concept of building up your tolerance of carbs on runs is called training your gut. You may experience some GI issues. That is normal. Just like you have to train your muscles, you have to train your gut to handle more + more amounts of carbs ++ certain types of carbs will agree with some + not agree with others. Here’s what I mean by that:

When you combine different building blocks of carbs [glucose + fructose + sucrose], you can impact the amount of carbs that your body can take in ++ the form of the food is important for that potential impact on the GI system. To pick between liquid versus solid carbs also depends on many factors:

  • What do you plan to carry on you? Water bottles? 
  • Do you want real food? Gels? Powder?
  • Do you experience GI issues often? 

These questions not only guide whether you should have liquids or solids, but also guide your decision on what is the best product to use. Since this can start to get all tangled up + confusing, let’s break down your choices. 

You now have all the tools in your tool belt to not only have a successful long run, but ability to recover + become a stronger runner. Now go fuel your runs!

Does all of this still feel confusing? Don’t worry! I’ll be in the CHAARG Run Club slack channel to answer all of your running + nutrition questions. I’ll see you in there June 1!

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PSA: Looking for a running-focused workout program + community this summer? Always wanted to run 13.1 miles without stopping? Join CHAARG Run Club! Registration is open until May 29 — see more details here!

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