Running – How do I fuel my runs?

Over on my Facebook page, a friend asked about my strategy for fueling on my runs. While I don’t have it down to a science, I have found what works for me while running.

Asking for fueling advice is like asking for recommendations on the best vehicle, the best travel credit card, or the best trails to run. Everyone has an opinion of their favorite and we have to piece everything together to figure out works best for our own situation.

That being said, here’s what currently works for me to fuel running 35 to 50 miles each week with long runs of 20 to 25 miles. Of course, hydration is an important component, especially as we heat up during Spring and Summer months.

running fuel bananas

Moderation and balance…

Nutrition and fuel for training start with what you eat every day, throughout the day. My aim is to eat consistently throughout the day, aiming for 30g of protein for each meal with foods from all food groups.

Of course, for me, this includes a moderate serving of beef at least once, if not twice, daily. I go easy on added sugars outside of fueling immediately before or during a run.

If you don’t have a solid foundation of nutrition, it’s difficult to make any training work well to your fullest potential.

For runs less than an hour…

Shorter training runs (less than 45 minutes) usually do not require fueling during my run.

For these, I usually make sure to hydrate and consume ~100 calories prior to the run with something that sits well on my stomach (fruit, granola bar).

For runs longer than an hour…

— Prior to running, I eat at least 150 calories from something that sits well on my stomach (granola, fruit) and water with an electrolyte tab.

— During my run, I try to consume 100 calories every hour (or per 45 minutes, if a long run) with a rotation of a gel, chews or something more solid. Calories per hour may increase on a tough trail. I have slowly worked in easy-to-chew granola bars on my long trail runs as I find mixing up the energy sources helps avoid GI issues and I want to get away from relying so heavily on sugar for fuel. Fruit like a banana works great if I can loop back to my pickup as an aid station.

— Following my long run, I have a low-calorie Gatorade and a 30g protein shake (either milk + whey protein if I’m at home or a protein shake if on the go) and some fruit (bananas or oranges).

I’ve been experimenting with Generation UCAN during my long runs as a source of slow, continuous fuel and like what I’ve experienced so far. I’m just trying to figure out how to adapt using it with the gear/bottles I have to carry without buying new gear.

Running products I use…

Below is a list of items that may be found in my pantry at any given time to help fuel my running.

Many of these products come with an organic/non-GMO verified project label. I avoid those misleading marketing labels if there is alternative product available.

Gu energy gels

Hammer nutrition gels

Honey Stinger chews

Honey Stinger waffles

Caveman bars

KIND bars

Nuun electrolyte tablets

SixStar Whey Protein

Premier Protein

Additional Resources on Running Nutrition…

I read quite a few articles from a number of running publications. Here are a few additional resources:

UltraRunning Magazine

Runner’s World

Runners Connect

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