Long runs, gels and such (Read 39 times)

On the road back

    Before RW, I did mostly Hal Higdon plans, and like most runners, loaded up my belt with gels, gummies, gatorade and water before heading out on my long training runs.


    During my first training cycle with RW, I read these words under "Biggest Mistakes" on the long run: "Taking replacement carbohydrates (energy gel, etc.) thus not allowing the body to learn to metabolize fats efficiently" and so I quit taking gels with me.  Oddly enough, I felt great.  I found myself completing 13-15 miles without gels and even without liquids and I never felt bad. Not once.


    But that was during the late fall and early winter.  Temps were in the 40s.  Now, temps are in the 70s with high dew points and I'm wondering about water.  What do most of you take with you on long runs during the hotter months?  Should I be taking water out with me?

    2013 Goals: Run more. Smile while I do it. Complete 2 marathons in a year. (1 down, 1 to go)


      I think that the heavy use of replacement carbs is more a function of marketing than science.  I take water or run a course that goes by water fountains. If it is really hot, I may take s-caps to replace lost salt / potassium but I never take replacement carbs.  I think many people (myself included previously) think that they need the gels / Gatorade etc when they really do not.  I run with a guy who brings Gatorade on a three mile run and also carb loads for a 5k. Unless he has some profound medical issues, there is no way he needs the gatorade. Any of us, no matter our condition, has the glycogen to run 45-90 minutes (or longer) without needing replacement carbs.

       2015 goals: run a bunch....race some.....repeat...


        I carry water with me on pretty much anything over 4 miles, at least for 5 - 6 months of the year.  I don't like feeling thirsty, so I'll sip when I want to.  But I seem to be a thirsty type of person and can easily drink a gallon of liquids (mostly water, some soda with lunch or dinner, 8oz coffee in the morning) in a day.  No way I'd "feel good" on an hour plus run without a few splashes of water to at least wet my mouth down.


        However, I have stopped with the gels on my runs for this half plan.  Which is too bad because I have some that I've pitched as they've passed their expiration.  I do put one in the pocket of my water bottle on the longer runs "just in case" but haven't felt like taking it.  My running group puts out water and gatorade on our Saturday runs, so I'll usually drink about 5oz or so at one of the stops.  Mainly because I enjoy the flavor Wink  I think that maybe towards the end of my plan I'll take a gel during the long runs just to make sure my stomach still tolerates them, in case I decide I need one on race day.

          I am the same way, I used to bring enough gels that I could take one every six miles or so on a long run, cause I "needed" it!! hahaha, have stopped using them this summer with no problems. Now, my marathon in October is using a brand of gels that I have never ever had before, so sometime this month I will probably buy a couple and make sure they sit okay during some of my sixteen milers. It has been so humid here this summer, so I have been carrying water with me on some runs, or make sure to run through sprinklers! I hate carrying water though, so I only bring a small bottle that straps to my hand, it is mostly just to keep my mouth wet not really for true hydration

            I have never, not one single time, taken a gel or anything else other than water on a long run. I do not believe it is necessary on a training run of 2-ish hours or less (I think the longest run I've ever done was like 2:20, so that is the limit of my experience!) If you've eaten enough beforehand - in my experience this means the day before - your glycogen stores should be totally fine.


            I rarely drink during long runs but when it's really hot, like today, I feel like I need water to hydrate and cool down. I'll do whatever I can to avoid carrying it with me though. Hydration belts are uncomfortable, handhelds are annoying, so I just plan my route to have plenty of options should I need it (I'm not doing hardcore trail running in the wilderness though - I do run trails, but in a big forest park on the outskirts of the city). Today I was all about this one random fountain smack in the middle of the was almost 90 degrees by 9 a.m. and after about an hour of running, all I could think about was WHERE IS THAT DAMN FOUNTAIN?? Thank goodness it was functioning! Felt so good, and definitely kept me on my feet for the last 5km.


            Well, that was a lot about me and my opinions. Seriously, though, people managed to run pretty well for years, nay centuries, before PowerGel was invented. I'm sure it's good for long-distance races or ultras, but this whole idea that you need it in training is really just marketing.

              I used gels (Gu) last year before my fall marathon. I liked them, and I ate 1 or 2 of them on every long run. I think that I grew dependent on them, and during the actual marathon, I felt pretty crappy late in the race and needed more of them than I had. During my RW training for my recent June marathon, I followed the RW advice and avoided the gels DURING my runs. However, I occasionally took them AFTER my long runs to make sure that my stomach could handle them. I think there is value to them for the marathon distance, so I carried 3 of them with me in a Spi-Belt pouch during the marathon. I felt much stronger in the 2nd race. Based on just these 2 data points for me, I believe in avoiding the gels during training, but using them in long races.

              I bring water with me on runs when it's really hot. Short or long runs, if it's hot out, I think the water is pretty important.  That said, today was very cool (52 degrees F), and I ran 16 miles without any water, without any problems.


              Fight The Future

                I don't take gels on runs, except during a race and also one or two long runs before a race, to get used to them again. I also don't drink water or gatorade typically during training runs unless it's above 70 degrees or so. When it's hot, salt pills are my savior! My recent quandary has been whether to eat in the morning before my runs or not. I was just drinking a cup of coffee before my runs, but then I saw some recent study saying people had fewer heart attacks if they ate breakfast. Not sure that related to running, but I decided to try to minimize stress by having a small bite before I go out in the mornings - typically a bread or bun with Nutella (tasty!)

                During marathons, I've typically have tried to have a gel every 30-40 minutes, based on not much science at all. My stomach feels like cr@p at the end, and I think I need a new strategy. Was wondering if I should just use 2 or 3 during the whole race. Or maybe something other than gels, like dates or some other real food....


                I race in SparkleSkirts

                  I'm training for a half, and have avoided taking any carbs during my long runs with the exception of one time, to make sure my stomach tolerates it for the race.  I will probably do it one more time closer to the race. I have felt good during runs up to 11 miles with nothing but water so far! My training plan started the last week of May, so every long run so far have been at least very warm, if not 90 degrees and humid before 7:00am so water has been essential!

                  PRs:   5K- 28:16 (5/5/13)      10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13)    4M- 41:43 (9/7/13)   15K- 1:34:25  (8/17/13)    10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14)     HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14)


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