first marathon training, fueling question - KickRunners.com
 
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#1 of 17 Old 08-03-2008, 03:13 PM - Thead Starter
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I am going to run my first marathon in the spring, and will start the 18 week program in December. My longest run in the last few years has been 14 miles. I generally hold a bottle of watered down gatorade for those kinds of run, although I don't love holding a sloshing bottle. Sometimes I jam the bottle into a waist pack and have it slosh on my lower back.

What do you do to fuel for your long runs? I've looked at various running belts, and don't know what, if anything, to get. Am I okay running 17-20 miles with just gatorade, or do I need to eat something else?

What do you use and like? I should add that my long runs are likely to be between a 10 and 11 mm pace, so I'm going to be out there for awhile. Thanks.

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#2 of 17 Old 08-03-2008, 04:45 PM
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I've been using Cliff Shot Bloks and water..... I either plan a long run with drinking fountains or 7-11's along the way for my water or I'll run at the local track and bring water..... I just don't like having to carrying water with me.
My pace is also around 10-11 mm and find a couple of bags of Shot Bloks is enough to keep me going for up to 4 or 5 hours.

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#3 of 17 Old 08-03-2008, 11:36 PM
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Jebba: there are many on this site with much more experience than I, but I will put my .02 in...
I have run 4 marathons. I am not fast but not too slow. I train at the 10:00 range too.

When I get above 15 miles I need nutrition. Gel, bloks, beans, granola bars, gummy bears, whatever your choice. The choices now are endless. I think that most people feel the same way that at this level of run, the addition of some nutrition to your gatorade may not be necessary but will certainly enhance your performance. Meaning, that you will probably make it 20+ miles without nutrition, but you can make it feeling much better if you take something in along the way. I, over time, have worked out a system where I take water and nutrition on the hour and gatorade on the half hour, alternating, after the 5 mile or so point. I do this during my Ms too. You should start experimenting now with what products you like (taste and tummy). I know lots of others will chime in on this one, so I'll stop now. I found it helpful to read a lot about what other people did.
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#4 of 17 Old 08-03-2008, 11:37 PM
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Also wanted to add that there are fans of every product of belt things...but I have heard the most good things about the Nathan brand...the belt/carrier and the handheld.
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#5 of 17 Old 08-04-2008, 11:33 AM
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Hey Jebba. I use a Nathan belt with 4 10 oz. bottles.
I will say that I try to only take in water for all of my long runs, unless I'm trying to do them at a target pace e.g. marathon pace.
I know this doesn't work for everyone, and you might have to build up to that, but I think it makes the target pace runs seem easier. Then I'll take gels in those target long runs.

One thing that came to mind for me- I don't know where you live, but it sounds like you're going to be training in the Winter. I have had my water freeze on me in my water belt, so you might want to consider that.
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#6 of 17 Old 08-05-2008, 03:11 PM
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Jebba, good question. I'm sure you can get a more scientific answer from an exercise physiologist, or a comprehensive running source such as Noakes's Lore of Running, but I'll take a shot at your question:

To preface the topic of fueling for the marathon, it helps to categorize your needs into the following areas:
  • Hydration
  • Electrolytes
  • Carbohydrate (energy) replacement.

Some products provide each category separately, i.e. water, table salt, and sugar. Other products, such as Gatorade, provide all three categories in one. When determining your fueling needs, I've found it helpful to break it down by category as not all products are equal.

It helps to go into your long training run fully loaded up on all three of the categories. Therefore, it is a common practice to pre-load the day before a long run with a carbohydrate-rich meal and adequate hydration to suspend the carbs as glycogen into your muscles and liver.

Liquid replacement is factored on your sweat rate. The more you sweat, the more liquids you require to avoid dehydration. Electolytes are necessary to help absorb liquids through the stomach and eventually into the bloodstream.

Running more than two hours, you will have to replace carbohydrate if you wish to maintain your long run pace (it is feasible to continue running without fuel, but expect your pace to deteriorate.)

Timing your in-run fuel-replacement. This is where it becomes individual. Though you can run for about 2 hours without fuel, it is wise not to completely deplete before re-fueling. You will have to experiment to see what works for you. In my experience, it helps me to partially deplete my system before replacing carbs (i.e. I wait until about 70-80 minutes into the run until I take the first gel.) After the initial consumption of in-run carbs, I continue to take a gel every 35-45 minutes afterwards and to the end of the run.

Yet gels (carbs) are only one factor of the equation. Consider dehydration as a limiting factor. You should know how many fluid ounces you need per hour on a typical temperature for your location. You can adjust your needs based on the actual weather on race day. Same goes for electrolytes. Warmer temps means the need for additional electrolytes.

I know this was wordy, but I hope it helps. Keep notes in your running log on what worked. Hopefully by marathon day you will have a plan in place to replenish your fluids, electrolytes, and carbs that will keep you running strong to all the way to the finish. Good luck.
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#7 of 17 Old 08-05-2008, 03:15 PM
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Oh, and to answer your question about hydration packs, I wonder if you are planning to carry (self-support) all your needs on the run? Or will you have chance to reload water at a fountain or stop back by house or car? If so, one handheld (about 20 oz) or a fuel belt will serve your needs. If not and you need to carry everything from the start, then a camelback-type pack offers a way to carry the additional ounces. The packs tend to slosh a lot. I typically go with a 20 ounce bottle in a handheld or waistpack configuration.
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#8 of 17 Old 08-05-2008, 03:29 PM - Thead Starter
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Thanks, everyone! And thaks for the detailed answer, roots.

Fortunately I have a garmin, so I think I'll be able to fashion routes that will get me to water refilling places.

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#9 of 17 Old 08-05-2008, 03:37 PM
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Some great information posted in this thread. I don't have much to add other than to say that I have both the Nathan 4 10oz bottle belt and love it. I just got it last month and have used it 3 times on non supported long runs. I also have one of the camelbaks that Roots was talking about. Specifically, I have the Alterra. It's a waist pack too. I have shoulder camelbaks that I've used for both cycling and motorcycling, but I tried them for running and didn't like that at all.

Also, if you haven't already done so, You need to look up the Nashville Striders website. They have many long runs that have water stops. I think they do a series of Saturday long runs leading up to the Country Music Marathon. CMM was my first marathon and I did a 20 miler with the Nashville Striders a few weeks before the event when I was in town for my cousin's wedding. Great group. Good support. And it's nice to get some training on the actual race course.

Good luck!
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#10 of 17 Old 08-05-2008, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mailbox Head View Post
I will say that I try to only take in water for all of my long runs, unless I'm trying to do them at a target pace e.g. marathon pace.
One more thing that I didn't mention above - MH's post reminded me:

Fat plays a role as a source of energy in distance running. Some runners and coaches advocate minimal or non-use of carb replacement in training. The idea is to train the body to conserve carbs and turn to fat-burning as quickly as possible as a source of fuel. The concept is that the body has a finite amount of carbs available and that fat is available in copious amounts.

Depleting yourself of carbs in the long run, although helpful for training purposes, comes with cost since the practice could result in a bonk, which is not fun to experience.

The thing to remember, though, is that the swifter the pace, the more carbs burned. Slower pace conserves carbs and allows the fat burning.
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#11 of 17 Old 08-05-2008, 04:29 PM - Thead Starter
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Timr1- I am a member of Striders. I hope to take advantage of some of the group long runs. With two kids, a job and a busy spouse, I'll have to cobble together the time for long runs.

Ask your doctor if getting off your ass is right for you.

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#12 of 17 Old 08-05-2008, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jebba View Post
Timr1- I am a member of Striders. I hope to take advantage of some of the group long runs. With two kids, a job and a busy spouse, I'll have to cobble together the time for long runs.
Yes, I know EXACTLY how that is. BTW, my LR this saturday will start a little before 5:00am so I can finish in time to race to the soccer fields to coordinate evaluations for the fall season for the league.
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#13 of 17 Old 08-06-2008, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roots View Post
Fat plays a role as a source of energy in distance running. Some runners and coaches advocate minimal or non-use of carb replacement in training. The idea is to train the body to conserve carbs and turn to fat-burning as quickly as possible as a source of fuel. The concept is that the body has a finite amount of carbs available and that fat is available in copious amounts.
This is a really important point. Too often, you hear about people starting to train for their first marathon, and then following rather aggressive fueling strategies (Shotblocks, gels, Sportsbeans, Gatorade) on ALL their long runs, starting at about 3 miles. They will never be able to train the body to consume fat as fuel, since it will always have a steady supply of simple sugars. Also, it makes for very expensive long-runs. I carry a gel with me in case I bonk, but mostly just run with sports drink for my long-runs (21-30 km).
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#14 of 17 Old 08-06-2008, 09:54 PM
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anything other than water till the last month or so before my marathon ... then I added in some gatorade and clif gel (the 2 carb loading options the race I was planning on doing used at stations) ...

In the training for my first marathon (a fall marathon) I had access to water fountains every 4 miles and didn't carry any hydration with me ... but for the winter training leading to my spring marathon I did more treadmill running than I'd have liked (so water was easy) and then also did loop routes with my water bottle set out to use when I passed by ...

I hate my belt and the sloshing ... and I can't stand holding something in my hands while running ....


I also did not eat breakfast before my long runs ... I got my body used to being glycogen depleted ... so the first time at a new distance was usually killer but the next time or two were much better

I carbo loaded like crazy the last 3 days before my first marathon: I actually made a carb-intake schedule for my waking hours and force-fed myself to insure I took in the proper ratio of carbs/lb according to some reference I found in Noakes' 'Lore of Running', I believe ... took water and gatorade alternating at every 2nd water stop during the race ... and a gel at the start and every 5 miles during the race ... I felt great the whole time and finished strong and smiling ... and my time was better than I'd hoped for ...


Good luck with your training ... stay healthy ... rest when needed ... eat enough to train well ... take time to fix those little aches before they become big ones ... and you're going to do great and love your first marathon!

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#15 of 17 Old 08-06-2008, 10:53 PM
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Roots mentioned "The Lore of Running" as a resource book and I agree wholeheartedly. There is an entire chapter on energy (Ch 3?) and it gives some really good insight into the issue. About the only thing I did right during my training for Tokyo (last Feb) was proper energy fuelling, and it was thanks to the things I learned in Noakes' book. If you can't find that book I would suggest you look for any good text on nutrition and look for the chapter on energy.

I think we are all different in how we respond to energy consumption (source) during extended exercise. Some people burn more carbs and less fat than others. The name of the game in marathons is to conserve carbs, so if you are a good fat burner then your need for energy supplements is less than if you are a good carb burner. Anyway, read the book, if only for your personal enjoyment.
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#16 of 17 Old 09-06-2008, 12:24 PM
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I would definilty add to this discussion that if you want to try out different hydration packs make sure wherever you buy them has a liberal return policy. Something that feels good in the store may drive you crazy while running. I bought one fuel belt and HATED it in the first 3 miles. It was $38 and I couldn't return it. I ended up with one I LOVE but it took a few different tries to find one I liked.
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#17 of 17 Old 09-09-2008, 05:51 PM
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Speaking of hydration packs - I found in my very first marathon training, I HATED carrying any water/liquid anywhere anyplace on my body. It hurt my back, slowed me down. You are not a large person so definitely try it out, but like kristine24 says make sure you can return anything.

Instead what I do is either - a) be sure to run by a convenience store, country store, wherever to purchase liquids and consume during the long run or b) stash gatorade and water at various place along the route. (This requires a car trip before and after [to clean up]). For me, it is well worth not carrying around the extra weight. Expriement to determine whatever works for you. Good luck!
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