Marathon fueling (Read 2329 times)


I'm back!

    The bottom line; it is the training part that'll get you to the finish line better.  If the training part is inadequate, no amount of fluid or fuel will get you to the finish line the way you'd want it.   

     

    Yes, of course. But my feeling is that failure to fuel properly in a marathon can wreck your performance as surely as lack of training. Personally, my PRs have all come when I was well fueled on course -- my two fastest have been at Boston, where I fueled as described above. Now maybe I didn't need all that fluid for hydration, but I needed it to properly absorb all those carbs, anyway.

      so while I have your attention, and while the responses are about fluid and carbs.

       

      Do you always run with gu (or an equivalent) for your long runs?  I drank a little about 60 oz of water during a hot/humid 13 mile run yesterday, but I don't often carry powerade and/or gu.  I've had enough shot blocks, gu, chomps, etc to know that I can tolerate them (in moderation - I have an upper limit over a marathon distance) and respond well to them, but I follow the logic over my 4x week 10+ mile runs that I don't want my body to be relient on external energy sources but more efficient at using what it has available - heck, body fat would be nice.

       

      Is this logic flawed, and am I just better off and able to run stronger if I'm carbing/electrolit-ing along the way?


      Fat butt on couch

        so while I have your attention, and while the responses are about fluid and carbs.

         

        Do you always run with gu (or an equivalent) for your long runs?  I drank a little about 60 oz of water during a hot/humid 13 mile run yesterday, but I don't often carry powerade and/or gu.  I've had enough shot blocks, gu, chomps, etc to know that I can tolerate them (in moderation - I have an upper limit over a marathon distance) and respond well to them, but I follow the logic over my 4x week 10+ mile runs that I don't want my body to be relient on external energy sources but more efficient at using what it has available - heck, body fat would be nice.

         

        Is this logic flawed, and am I just better off and able to run stronger if I'm carbing/electrolit-ing along the way?

         

        If you already know that handling them on race day will not be an issue, IMHO I would not use gels when training for the marathon or shorter distances.  I would rather get into that uncomfortable zone at the end of a hard long run and learn to deal with it, then pamper myself in training like I would during a race.  I'd rather have the "extra" during the race, than condition my body to expect the input.

         

        Water, there's no such thing as conditioning your body to work without decent hydration, IMO, you just beat yourself up more.  If I need hydration and can set it up, I do.  Gatorade, on some longer runs, I have done sometimes more for the electrolytes than the carbs.

        "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

         


        I'm back!

          AussieGirl, as you point out, there are arguments both ways, and you will find adherents of both points of view. Another factor is that when you deplete yourself of carbs, you challenge your immune system more, and are more susceptible to infection.

           

          What I do is take carbs on most of my long runs, but a few times in a marathon-training cycle I will do without. Also, I generally use Pfitzinger, and he throws in a mid-week medium-long run -- 15 or so. Those I often do without carbs.

            so while I have your attention, and while the responses are about fluid and carbs.

             

            Do you always run with gu (or an equivalent) for your long runs?  I drank a little about 60 oz of water during a hot/humid 13 mile run yesterday, but I don't often carry powerade and/or gu.  I've had enough shot blocks, gu, chomps, etc to know that I can tolerate them (in moderation - I have an upper limit over a marathon distance) and respond well to them, but I follow the logic over my 4x week 10+ mile runs that I don't want my body to be relient on external energy sources but more efficient at using what it has available - heck, body fat would be nice.

             

            Is this logic flawed, and am I just better off and able to run stronger if I'm carbing/electrolit-ing along the way?

             

            Good stuff from spaniel and bhearn.

             

            I would just add that the answer depends on the purpose of the workout. If you are looking to practice running fast on tired legs, then it would make sense to eat a bit on the run. (For example, you are doing a long tempo or steady run.) Also, you want to see how your stomach handles food (and perhaps train it to deal with it better) under intensity.

             

            If you are looking to train your body to use its fat stores more efficiently, then maybe you don't use a gel. (For example, a long easy run.)

             

            Of course there are situations in which you are trying to do both things simultaneously--here you will just have to rely on phronesis. 

             

            One thing's for sure: bonking in training is usually counter-productive. In my experience, different runners have different needs as far as energy consumption goes in racing and in training. In my experience, whether or not I run out of energy on a run has a lot more to do with what I ate in the 24 hours prior to running rather than what I ate while running.

            Scout7


            CPT Curmudgeon

              I am posting my personal experiences as nothing more than a chance to point out that you have to experiment, and that you cannot be afraid of making a mistake in your training or your racing.

               

              When I trained for my first marathon, I brought gels and/or water/ sports drink along.  The next year, I started out bring something along, but was using it less and less frequently, till I pretty much stopped carrying anything at all.  I have done 2+ hours (15-18 miles) "unsupported", in the heat of summer (southeastern PA).  In races, I will take water and sports drink, the water more to rinse my mouth and get the sticky sweet taste of the sports drink out of it.

               

              I have found that, for me, I really don't need much on long runs.  Races, since I tend to run them at a higher effort level, I have a greater need for calories, but even then the need isn't that severe.  Any issues I've had in races are seldom from nutrition, and almost always related to improper pacing, fitness/prep, and inexperience (which pretty much feeds the other two).

               

              I agree with Nobby; I think people tend to put too much effort into worrying about nutrition during the race.  I think more emphasis should be placed on the hydration/fueling during all the weeks prior to and after the race than the race itself.

              xor


                >> bonking in training is usually counter-productive.

                 

                Amen to that.  Recovery after a bonk takes a lot longer (for me) and biffs training... for no grand purpose.  If you've ever met someone who is proud of bonking during training, look askance.

                 

                (and see if perhaps they are, well, in a measuring contest.  Similarly, someone who brags that they ran a 20 miler with hydration... what's the point?)

                 

                Scout7


                CPT Curmudgeon

                  Regarding training your body to use fat over stored glycogen, you don't do it by trying to not give your body what it needs.

                   

                  You do it by running at an easier effort, and by developing your fitness.  That's it.

                   

                  The body always burns a mix of fat and glycogen; the ratio used varies based on effort level.  The lower the effort, the more fat your body will use, and vice versa.  One of the goals of training is to move that point to a faster pace, allowing you to run faster while still at a lower effort level, and thus keeping the mix more balanced.

                   

                  In other words, the need for calories during any given run will depend on the length of the run and the effort level.


                  I'm back!

                    Regarding training your body to use fat over stored glycogen, you don't do it by trying to not give your body what it needs.

                     

                    My understanding -- maybe I'm wrong -- is that running low on glycogen does indeed stimulate adaptation to store more glycogen.


                    Fat butt on couch

                      I would just add that the answer depends on the purpose of the workout. If you are looking to practice running fast on tired legs, then it would make sense to eat a bit on the run. (For example, you are doing a long tempo or steady run.) Also, you want to see how your stomach handles food (and perhaps train it to deal with it better) under intensity.

                       

                      .

                      .

                      One thing's for sure: bonking in training is usually counter-productive. In my experience, different runners have different needs as far as energy consumption goes in racing and in training. In my experience, whether or not I run out of energy on a run has a lot more to do with what I ate in the 24 hours prior to running rather than what I ate while running.

                       

                      These are good points, so just to clarify, note I did not say you should BONK on your long run.  On that I totally agree with Jeff and SRL.  What I have typically done is alternate between easy long runs and hard long runs.  The harder ones usually start out at a moderate effort but then I'll do, say, the last 8-10 miles of a 20-22 miler progressively faster.  The goal is not to bonk, but to try and get to the point where I'm really challenging my strength and stamina for the distance.  Sure, these will take an extra day of recovery vs an easy long run, but after a couple of these I find myself much stronger at the end of the actual marathon.  The best way I can describe the feeling is that when you finish you'll eat about anything...your body is craving fuel....but you controlled the pace so you did not bonk and finished strong.

                       

                      I have experimented with fueling some of these harder runs to try and be able to do them at a harder effort.  Never seemed to do much for me.

                      "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                       

                        so while I have your attention, and while the responses are about fluid and carbs.

                         

                        Do you always run with gu (or an equivalent) for your long runs?  I drank a little about 60 oz of water during a hot/humid 13 mile run yesterday, but I don't often carry powerade and/or gu.  I've had enough shot blocks, gu, chomps, etc to know that I can tolerate them (in moderation - I have an upper limit over a marathon distance) and respond well to them, but I follow the logic over my 4x week 10+ mile runs that I don't want my body to be relient on external energy sources but more efficient at using what it has available - heck, body fat would be nice.

                         

                        Is this logic flawed, and am I just better off and able to run stronger if I'm carbing/electrolit-ing along the way?

                         

                        I almost never take any carbs on a training run mostly because I almost never outrun my fuel window in training.  If you need carbs to finish the workout without bonking then take them, the most important thing is doing the workout.  But if you don't need them, then they are not going to help.

                         

                        I too have never seen the value in intentionally bonking in training.

                        Runners run.


                        A Saucy Wench

                          i dont gu during training runs until I get to about 18 miles then I usually have 1 at around 16.  I'm going slower on a training run, I should be able to do more of it on fat reserves than a race.  I gu about every 7 miles in a race. I'm out of shape now so I may need to gu a little more often when getting back in shape.  I'll probably start carrying at around 12 and hope to not use it.

                           

                          I will carry water on a training run sometimes, there are no water fountains around here and I am not going to run crappy little loops near home when I can take off into the wine country with a camelbak.  I've done long runs without water and I have occasionally regretted it.  The day I was contemplating the pesticide load in the drainage ditch made me think that maybe on warmer days I should carry. I usually alternate sips of water and other stuff at most of the water stops in a marathon. 

                          I have become Death, the destroyer of electronic gadgets

                           

                          "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - dd, age 7

                          Scout7


                          CPT Curmudgeon

                            My understanding -- maybe I'm wrong -- is that running low on glycogen does indeed stimulate adaptation to store more glycogen.

                             

                            To some extent, yes you can "trick" your body into storing more glycogen than it currently does; this fooling the body is one of the main reasons for a proper taper (lowered volume while maintaining intensity will give your body the ability to store more).  However, the adaptation is short-lived, and even then it's not a significant increase (there is an absolute limit, and it isn't a huge amount greater than what would be normal).

                              Does anyone have a Trent-verified and endorsed figure on how quickly simple carbs (okay, sugar) become available to the muscles?  Not much point in a Gu at mile 20 if it doesn't reach your muscles for another hour.  Actually, I bet Spaniel has a pretty good handle on this.

                              Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.


                              I'm back!

                                It's not just when the carbs are available to the muscles -- it's when the brain detects that new carbs are on the way, and adjusts its model of how much energy it can expend. You can get a performance boost just from tasting sugar.

                                 

                                That said, I never bother to grab Gatorade after about M24.