Getting in Shape

Question for all you long distance runners!

So I have a 12 mile race coming up in August.  I know that when you start running longer distances that you need more then just water or gatorade to provide you with some necessary fuel.  With that said, I really don't want to use and spend money on gels and "specialty" running snacks.  But I know I need to start trying out foods while running to see what really works for me

What types of foods would you suggest as a good during run snack or what have you used in the past that you think works really well?

Re: Question for all you long distance runners!

  • I don't have any ideas for you as my longest race thus far has been a 10k.  I 'might' be training for a half this fall, though, so I'm curious to see what the replies are.  Good luck with your 12 miler!
    Meddied since 6/15/13!
  • Thanks @radleyboo!  My longest so far has been a 10K as well and by the time I was finished that I could definitely fell the need for some sustanence :)

  • I've tried a couple different things while doing my half training.  I think I started experimenting around the 9 mile mark.  Maybe?  I can't remember. 

    I've tried Clif Shot Bloks in Mountain Berry and Margarita.  They were both tasty, but I didn't like doing that much chewing while running. 

    I've tried Clif Shot Gels in Razz and Citrus, both are fine.  I also tried Gu brand.  Do not get the Mandarin Orange flavor.  It is so disgusting.  So terribly disgusting.  It tastes like a weird combo of citrus and coffee.  I had to deal with the taste for the last 3 miles of my run and it was awful. 

    I am planning on taking one at mile 5 and one at mile 10, which based on my pace should be about 45 minutes in to the race, and then another 45 minutes until the second.  This is probably overkill and I could probably do the race on one and be fine.  But it is sort of a mental crutch.  If I am struggling during the race I can just tell myself to push through until the next gel and then I will be able to get the energy needed to keep running. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • GiaspoGiaspo member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    Hi! I like gels because they are easy. I usually do 1 every 4-5 miles at a water stop. If you dont want the special stuff, I've seen people put orange slices in a ziploc. Also some people carry the hard granola bars broken into pieces, or gummy bears or jelly beans. It's really what works well, both logistically (I love jelly beans and tried to run with them, but they melt in your pocket and your fingers get sticky!) and in your stomach. If you try the gels, try different brands. I am not a fan of cliff shots (a little too sticky for me) but like gu. Some people hate gu and love power gels. It's a personal choice. And, aside from pasta the noght nefore, be sure to eat something small two hours before the start. Half a bagel, banana, etc. and practice this during training so you know what works. Good luck!!
  • GiaspoGiaspo member
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    Hey! Where did my new ticker go? I'm stuck on a business trip in Orlando for two weeks and everything has changed!!!
  • cnf2013cnf2013 member
    1000 Comments Second Anniversary 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    For my Tri's I break apart a Luna bar and nosh a few bites in transition. I've also found I can get away without as much if I do a 50/50 water to gatorade mix in my water bottle. I hate running with anything in my tummy, I can't stand sloshing or feeling full, so the drink mix is my favorite and I'll chew down a few Luna bites if I need to. 
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  • For a half marathon I don't usually eat anything but I will drink some Gatorade along the way. I started using chews (clif blocks and the sports beans are my favorite) once I hit 14/15 mile runs
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Hello all,

    I've been lurking on the TK message boards for a while.  This is the first thread I felt compelled to respond to because, well, I am a distance runner.  As a lead-in, and mostly so you can evaluate the credibility of the response, know that I run ultramarathons and have done so for about three years now.  Training, pre-race, mid-race, and post-race nutrition are extremely important.  That being said, they also are completely personal.

    From a physiological standpoint, you generally have about one to two hours of glycogen stored in your system to fuel the first part of your run.  Glycogen is what is created by all those carbs we eat as runners.  Assuming you've trained adequately and fuel intelligently, you can get through a twelve mile race without mid-race fueling.  I'd suggest eating the same number of calories the week leading up, but upping your percentage intake of carbohydrates.  Spreading the so-called carb-loading through the week is the key.  There simply isn't a way to carb-load the night before.  It is a process that takes time.  Have a small snack about 2-3 hours before gun time, perhaps 200-400 calories.  With that, you'll be fine.  During the race, be sure to hydrate as you would normally.

    In the months leading up to the race, practice running with your race-day nutrition and hydration plan.  I call it a plan purposefully.  You cannot go into longer distances without a plan.  That being said, know that if the plan breaks down and stops working, you must adjust accordingly.  This is why training is so much more than just learning to log the miles.

    As for sports likely don't need them at twelve miles.  They're intended to keep electrolytes balanced as you sweat.  Unless you are in a humid-heavy environment or tend to sweat quite a bit, you're really just taking in empty calories and may be unbalancing your electrolytes.  

    At bottom, listen to your body.  Learn the cues...if you're woozy, you're lower than on E.  If your stomach is sloshing, your hydration is off in some manner.  Remember:  use the training to approach the entire race...the miles, nutrition, and hydration.

    This all is an overview and VERY generalized.  Like I said, all of this is so unique to each runner and, in fact, changes for each runner as their running progresses.  I used to eat a full Lara bar every five miles during a 50K or 50 mile race.  Now, I can run to the 25 mile mark before my stomach has even woken up for the race.  

    Feel free to PM me if you have any more questions at all.  Your greatest asset in this sport are your fellow runners.

    Good luck,
  • I'm a marathoner and sometime triathlete and I've tried it all: gels, gummy "shots," jelly beans, gummy bears, Luna Bars, honey stingers. I vote against anything that requires chewing, because if your breathing is labored, then chewing and breathing at the same time is difficult. I choked on a Luna Moon 2 miles from the finish of a marathon once. Almost didn't qualify for Boston because I had to stop and hack it out of my throat. :) Never did that again.

    If you DON'T want a specialty sports food, I've heard plain honey is the good. If you can find a little bottle or something to squeeze it into, squeeze some honey and use it about an hour into your race. Drink some water with it (use it before an aid station).

    That said, if I were running 12 miles, I wouldn't use a food. I do half marathons on water and Gatorade alone, because it has sodium, sugars, and electrolytes. It depends how long you will be out there, though, if you want something extra.

  • I appreciate all the feedback and I am glad to here that food isn't as much of a necessity for the race I am working towards as I thought.  I really think the problem with my last race was that I was more dehydrated then I should have been thus leading me to believe that food was the answer.  I do sweat quite a bit when running and at this time of year where I live the humidity is pretty high so adding in some gatorade sounds like a good start.

    Thanks again for all the feedback and I will give a few of your ideas a whirl and see what happens!

  • Try weighing yourself before your run, running (without drinking), then weighing yourself after. Your weight loss should help you figure out how much you lose and how much you should drink per mile.
  • @runpipparun - great tip!  I am still new at the whole running thing and trying to learn as I go so any information is truly welcomed :)

  • No biggie. I've been doing this for a long time, and I still don't get it right. But it's definitely no bueno to realize that you have sausage fingers from drinking too much sports drink or seeing brown pee afterward from being dehydrated. Err on the side of water. :)
  • Roctane is my favorite gel-if caffeine bothers your stomach though, this one isn't for you.  During long runs and marathons I usually try to do one every 45 minutes.  I also wear a fuel belt for long runs (not during races though because then I just use the water stops and grab while running).  If I'm not going longer than 10, I can get by with straight water, but for anything longer, I like accelerade for electrolytes-my hands swell when I lose too much salt through sweat, and the accelerade helps to mitigate that for me.

    As for food, I don't.  It's never been an issue, and like PPs said, if you ate before the race, you should be fine.
  • I'm a jellybean girl for long runs.  Not the specialty sport beans or anything, just got old fashioned jelly beans.  I have IBS and don't tolerate a lot of other stuff, so the jelly beans are like straight sugar, and not a ton of calories.  It's probably mostly a mental thing that they give me some quick energy, especially since I only eat a few, but hey, it works!  Oh, and obviously put them in a plastic bag to lessen the whole melty mess situation.
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