Monday, April 9, 2012

Fuel - pre, during, after

It's heating up in the South, and I wanted to share how I fuel, and hydrate for a long run, before during and after the run.  This if from my recent 20 miler, 3 wks out from the Blue Ridge Marathon   Of course, the regimen varies a little each time, but overall, I'm a "creature of habit."  If something seems to be working, I have a tendency to stick with it, but I do some experimenting here and there, just in case something may work better for me.

I typically have 2-3 quality runs per week.  My goal is to optimize the opportunity for a good, quality run.  This requires some prep work, but if it enhances my chances for a good run, it's worth the extra steps.  

Getting ready for the long run:
I typically get up extra early so that I can hydrate and fuel for my run.  Some fuel, some do not, but my strong belief is if you want the best possible run, you must fuel for it.  My opinion comes from not only my personal experience with fueling and not fueling, but also from reading, reading, reading, and also in witnessing/hearing about other runners struggles on the long run.   Everyone is different, different sizes,  different sweat rates, etc., but my belief is that the large majority of runners will benefit from proper fuel.   As average runners, who will be on the road a LONG time to complete their long run, fuel and hydration is key.   I would highly recommend experimenting with many different options until you find an option that will work with your stomach.  This is the first step in ensuring a quality run.  Yes, you will be able to run, and complete the run without fuel, but without fuel, you are lowering the quality that you may have had with fuel.  (my opinion)

Recently,  I had a 20 miler on hills with some local friends (Terri, Audrey, and Kily).  Below you will find the details of my fuel and hydration.  I sweat a lot,  and I'm a large person (5'10), so I require more water than most.

 pre-run - plain Chobani greek yogurt, w/ half of a banana, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa,  and a few pistachios.  1 slice of raisin bread with Promise light margarine.  1 large glass of water - 16 ounces.  If I wake up during the night, before a long run, I will drink the water early.  If not, I drink the water as soon as I make it to the kitchen.  In addition to the water, I also have 1-2 cups of coffee, depending on how much time I have before heading out the door.   (note - many can not tolerate dairy before a long run.  Fortunately, I have a tough tummy and most anything works for me.   I have a tendency to stick to 3-4 different things.  I like to get some protein and carbs, pre-run,  so that's why I choose the yogurt and pistachios)
Another part of my pre-run is to plan for my hydration and fuel during the run.  For the past year, I  prefer using the Camelbak.  It's good for around 13-15 miles.  So,  in addition the the CB, I make sure that I either go out and put water/gatorade out along my route, or make sure I have $$s if I'm doing more of a "city" run.   For this run, I placed water/gatorades out along my route, and I would have one stop at my car halfway through the run.    Part of my Sat. am prep included getting a small cooler ready to be left in the car for my halfway stop, and my post-run fuel.   I had ice, water, gatorade, gels, and a wet rag, etc. (see Post Run for the rest)  The wet rag is used as a refreshing, cooling-off when I stop at the car half way through the run.  I use it to wipe my face and neck.   Several years ago, my running partner at the time taught me that trick and it's a nice treat when running in the heat. 

During the run  - because of my sweat rate, I need water every 15-30 minutes, even in the winter.  In the spring, summer, fall I drink every 15-20 minutes (or should drink).  For Sat.'s 20 miler, I started using Gu gels at 1 hour, and then roughly every 45 minutes thereafter. (sat gels - 6, 11, and 14).   In addition to the water and gels, I also use Gatorade in the later miles.  On Sat., I had around 6 ounces of Gatorade at mile 10, 14, 19, and after I completed the run.

Gatorade - my preferred brand
I have experimented with the various versions of Gatorade - the high calorie, the low calorie, and the middle of the pack version.  I prefer the G series with some calories (80 per 12 ounces).  I use the 12 ounce bottles.  If I'm running an out an back route, this works well, so that I can drink 1/2 on the way out, and then 1/2 on the way back. 

Post Run
maybe you noticed on my last post, for Saturday's run,  I mapped out my toughest long training run, EVER.  Knowing the run would be extra challenging, I wanted to be sure to fuel, hydrate, fuel, hydrate, and finally,  fuel right after the run.   Some research still recommends the best refueling opportunity is within 20 minutes post run.  I know some can't eat right after a run, if not, I would recommend some type of drink (chocolate milk, some type of recovery drink, or even an additional gel)  From earlier in the week, I had some bowls of steel cut oats cooked and ready to eat, in the refrigerator.  (mine has oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, a little peanut butter, a little brown sugar, chia seeds, craisins - for this post run fuel, I also added some Chobani yogurt in the mix)  I added this to the cooler so that I could get a better recovery meal in quickly.  Had I not packed the cooler, it would have been a subway, egg & cheese biscuit, or pancakes, type of option.  Many times I do resort to those yummy options, but Sat. I was prepared with a healthier option.  I always feel better about the day (myself) when I choose the healthier route, but I struggle to make the "right" decisions many times.   On Sat. after finishing the 20 miles, I had a mile walk back to the car, which I kind-of like.  I was ready to be finished, but it's nice to have a little walk after finishing a long run.  When I made it to the car, I opened the door, and finished the open bottle of Gatorade, I stretched a little (not enough).  Soon after, I sat in the car and had my oats mixture.  I also continued to try to drink as much water as possible.   The rest of Sat. included some walking around, eating and drinking throughout the day, and about a 20-40 min. nap.    Yes, I consumed more calories than needed throughout the day,  but one advantage in over fueling is that I do believe it helps in recovery.  Throughout the day, some of the options were healthy or "healthyish", and some, not so much, more along the "treat" side of things.  (noted on previous blog - when I'm "really training" to "RACE" - my portion control, and my choices,  are much better.  When I'm not focused,  I eat some unhealthy options, but i also want to get some healthy options in, so at the end of the day, too many calories - my curse.  I struggle, but I continue to try to choose healthier options) 

I enjoy reading what others do, and what works for them, and wanted to share some of what works for me on my long runs.  It's getting warm out - Happy Running!
 tips from people who know much more than I.....


Meg said...

Great fueling article, Ginny! I also enjoyed reading what you do to get ready and recover from your long runs...but I can't believe it's already getting hot for you! We are just now getting some sunny, blue skies! Great visiting you today!

Gracie (Complicated Day) said...

Great info! I know it hurts me, but I skip fuel before long runs. I just end up regretting it - usually in the form of a side ache. If I'm going over 16, I'll do one or two gels or baggies of rice or oatmeal. Oddly, I will often do a 20 miler on one gel and no breakfast, yet I use 4 gels for a marathon. I don't know why that is!
After running I always make myself eat, even if I have no appetite, or I recover poorly. I like eggs and club soda.

Jill said...

Great tips! I almost melted to death during my 50k...I'm not sure how you guys run in that humidity and heat. I guess you acclimate, just not sure my body ever could.

Excited for your upcoming marathon. :)

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

Gracie - I read somewhere, a long time ago, that using the gels in training runs, "teaches your body how to better use the fuel." Who knows if it's true or not, but just in case.....

also, I'm a wimp or addicted to the "fuel"....I use them or I start to fade.

mid-week, 15-17 milers, I use none or fewer gels.

Good Luck at Boston! You are so tough, I know you will have a super race. most of all, have FUN!

Scarlett said...

Great tips! It's already getting warm here so I've got to figure this out too.

Lisa said...

Always great to hear what works for others. I don't have too much trouble with the fueling, but I struggle w/ hydration and recovery fuel. I just don't want to eat anything after a long run - blech! But I pay for it. Dearly.

HappyTrails said...

I enjoyed reading your regimen. The article looks to be an good source of info. I love Chobani Greek yogurt, too, although the I need to mix a little flavored with the plain as the plain makes my face pucker! :-) I am one of those people who can have a hard time eating after a challenging run, particularly when it is warm. Chocolate milk or an iced non-fat mocha is my quick Go-to!