Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to fuel your marathon

Gu! Clif Gel! Sports Beans! Sharkies! Gatorade! 
Fuel fuel fuel. Its taken over my brain these last few weeks.  I get a bit obsessive about things like this and this is no exception. I think I've read just about every thread out there on how to fuel 26.2.  I really thought your only options were gels and/or Gatorade (both of which are as appealing as a case of chicken pox to me).
BUT upon further research, I've found that some people fuel their marathons with one or more of the following:

DRIED FRUIT (dates and apricots seem to get the most votes here)

BANANAS (I LOVE bananas but I dont know how I would carry them during a race. Perhaps create a yoke for my neck? One bunch on each side?)

GUMMY BEARS and SWEDISH FISH (this seems to be quite popular though that seems like a lot of fruity sugary gummy-ness. I'm not a fan of gummy candies. I was the child who traded them all away at Halloween for any kind of chocolate bar. Bonus points if it had nuts.)

CEREAL BAR/PROTEIN BARS/FIG NEWTONS (it would seem to be that Nutri-Grain type bars would digest better than protein bars during a race. I've only ever tried a few protein bars but not only was the taste, um 'lacking' but the density of it was like someone used a compression machine to sandwich 12 cereal bars into one and call it a day. During 26.2? No thanks.)

MINI CANDY BARS (now here's a fuel I can get behind!!  Bonus points if it has nuts. Did I already say that? Well, anyway...)

BABY FOOD POUCHES (this I understand. Portable. Easy to open and consume. Consistency is lighter than gels. BUT the packages are much larger than Gu so you couldnt carry very many and the carb count and that other electrolyte business probably leaves something to be desired. But I like the idea!)

Here are the 'official' ones I have that I am planning to try over the course of the next 5 long runs: Hammer Gel (huckleberry-got it at a race), PowerGel (mocha), Clif Shot Gel (razz-maybe raspberry?), Clif Shot Bloks (black cherry), Gu gel (vanilla bean-got it at a race)
Concerned about how these are going to sit in my belly as I dont eat anthing on my runs.  I did try one time, during a 10 mile run, to stop half way thru and eat a few gummy bears and pretzels and it didnt seem to bother me, so I am hoping these wont either.
I'm not use to drinking on my runs either so I dont know what drinking *THAT* much water will do to me either....*slightly scared*

Other things I want to try: Sharkies, honey Stingers, Honey Stinger Chews, CarBoom, Gu Chomps, Gu Chocolate Outrage, Gu Mint Chocolate (supposed to taste like a Thin Mint cookie or a York Peppermint Patty-yum!), PowerBar Gel Blasts, Luna Moons, and Gatorade....


1. Most people take a gel/fuel 30 min before gun time and then continue to fuel every 3-6 miles during the race.
2. If you are consuming a gel, make sure to drink lots of water with it (6-8oz) or it might give you tummy trouble. Drinking gatorade with gels might make this situation worse.
3. Some people fuel with only gatorade during a marathon and do fine.
4. Some people take NO fuel during a marathon and just make sure to hydrate and fuel properly the week leading up to the race and are diligent about it the night before and the morning of.
5. Some people put a gel pack in 8oz of water, shake vigorously and use that in place of Gatorade.
6. Make sure you try out whatever you plan to use during the race, on a training run.
7. You need not only calories and carbs, but electrolytes as well.
8. You need 30-60 g of carbs per hour depending on your body weight.
9. You can make your own 'sports' drinks and there are lots of recipes online (simple ones just have equal parts OJ, and water and then a pinch of salt)

Here is a review on energy gels that I found quite useful:

Here's a website that explains why people 'hit the wall' around mile 20-it has to due with having used up most of your glycogen stores by that point.

Are you on information overload?? I know I am!  My goal is just to find something that works for me and has me finishing on two feet and being able to  ENJOY the post-race celebration and not be laid out on my back all day!

What are your favorite items to fuel your long runs/marathons with?


  1. Great info here!
    I am still experimenting with this one, but I would say my favorite fuels dont involve any fiber (marathon distance) . I might use a bar or something like a banana or potato chips for a race over 4-5 hours, as long as I was willing to make a pit stop. My favorite gels are honeystingers- really just honey with electrolytes and sometimes flavor or caffeine. (Still taste mostly like honey) Their bars are really good too. I will probably use them in an ultra.

    1. When you say bar, what type? And do you carry a banana on your long run? I'd love to do potato chips! Yum! =) I'm going to try the honey stingers, I've heard good things about them...Thanks, Raina!