Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pre & In-Run Fueling Practice

Besides good training, probably the most vital element to a good race, or simply a good long run, is the fuel we use before and during the run.  And recently (yesterday), I was asked by Eddie of Eddie's World to share exactly what I use for energy & nutrition.  So here goes ...

Actually, maybe my most important fueling takes place the two days before the run.  If my long run or race is on Saturday, I'll really load up with as many good calories as possible on Thursday.  I'll basically stuff myself with as much food as possible.  Then on Friday, I try to eat fairly normally, with the exception of adding a few more carbs, typically in the form of steel cut oats or gluten free crackers.  Also on Friday, especially this time of year when maintaining fluids and electrolytes is imperative, I'll typically take in more water and potassium than normal.  On Friday's I'll drink a ton of water, eat an extra banana or two, and lately I've been really into coconut water, which is increasing in popularity and becoming easier to find in grocery stores.  My favorite pre-long run or race dinner is chicken, rice, and broccoli, with extra virgin olive oil and salt.  I eat it before most of my long runs, and the night before a race if I can find it.   Then it's off to bed to get plenty of rest for the run the next day.

Typical pre-long run and race calorie intake the morning of the run
On the day of the long run or race, I start with the same routine as every morning of my life ... wake up, feed Jack, pop a Vivarin with 8oz of water, eat a banana, let Jack out to use the bathroom while I use the bathroom ... and then sit around waking up for a few minutes reading blogs and watching ESPN Sports Center, and the local news. (I know, I know ... Vivarin's not a natural caffeine ... but I've tried coffee and it upsets my stomach.  I'm not endorsing Vivarin, but I've used it for 20 years without issue - and I'm well aware of the possible side effects)

After that, I'll eat about a 1/2 cup of steel cut oats and some blue berries.  I literally eat the oats raw, without cooking them ... don't ask, it's just what I do.  Next, I might drink about 8oz of coconut water, and have an all natural energy bar like a Bear Naked Peanut Butter Energy Bar.  I try to wrap up any food intake a minimum of an hour before the run.

Then the critical timing comes into play.  Exactly a half hour before my run, I'll take two 70ml Beet It Sport concentrated beet juice shots.  I'm a huge believer in the effects of beet juice on your body, and have began including it as part of my long run regimen.  You can read about it here.  Then about 10 minutes before I stand at the starting line, or walk out the front door for my run, while I'm stretching, I'll take a GU Roctane Island Nectar gel with 8oz of water.  On race day, I'll typically mix in some sprints or light running during this time-frame depending on the event ... but then it's game on!

Race and long run combination that I've used for a couple of years now
I usually try to go out before every long run and strategically drop water at two mile intervals.  Usually I hide bottles of water in the bushes because I hate carrying water with me.  In the summer, I make sure I take in 6 oz of water every two miles at a minimum, but usually a little more.  In case you're wondering, a swallow of water is about an ounce ... I've literally measure it - ha!  At mile 6 or 7, I'll usually take my first gel.  Again, I only use GU Roctane Gels.  They just work the best for me.  At mile 12, I typically take a salt capsule.  And at mile 13 or 14 I'll take another gel.

During a long training run, I'll normally just use water at the stops.  But in a race, I might mix in Gatorade every third water stop, or so.  But I've learned that too much Gatorade, combined with gels, can be an overload of sugar on my stomach, and ruin the final miles of a race.  Also, at some races there will be half bananas or orange slices along the course.  I will ALWAYS take fruit along the course if they're handing it out, mostly for the added calories and electrolytes.

So that's my pre-long run and race routine.  I'm always trying to perfect it, but this combination has worked pretty well for me for a while now.  However I'm always open to suggestions, so please feel free to share.  Hope your training's going well - have a great week!
... be great today!

16 comments:

  1. My pre-race meal is french toast and scrambled eggs. I don't usually travel for races, but when I do, I can find it because most towns have a Denny's or IHOP. I try to be done eating by 5:30 or 6 - I think being done with dinner early helps with early morning bathroom issues on race day. ;) Kristen

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  2. I get the french toast Kristen, but I don't think I could do the eggs. I have a buddy who eats eggs before our long runs sometimes too. You just made me really hungry for pancakes though!

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  3. Nice to notice that other men blog, I thought you were the only one.
    I've never had a particular pre-race meal, but I often go out for pasta (I used to love to go to a tiny place called Figaro's down the street from my house, and credit their delicious pasta and best-in-the-world salad with quite a few PRs, but they closed :( ) I usually have something carb-y right before bed, too, like, you know, cake.
    The morning of a marathon, I have lots of coffee, and attempt to eat oatmeal - but I generally cannot eat very much. It's usually early, plus I have race jitters, plus I hate oatmeal (but my stomach can tolerate it and I experience a lot of GI upset when I race). Before a race of any other distance, I usually do not eat.

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    1. Cake before a race sounds like a great plan.

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  4. Don't you have many public water taps along your routes? I don't ever carry water because there's always places to stop - in parks, along the bike paths, at the university, in the botanical gardens. I'd hate to have to think of setting out water bottles before I got started.

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    1. There are a couple Char, but at times they're turned off and I don't want to risk it. I don't mind hiding water in the shrubs, I've kinda gotten used to it

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  5. I have Crohn's - so I am super careful with pre-race snacks and meals - the steel cut oats would absolutely kill my tummy. My fave is white toast or bagels with a tad of butter and some jam - easy to digest. I drink a couple of shots of beet juice too - but the nitrates from the beets stay in your system so if I can, I'll have a small beet salad the night before a race too!

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    1. Yeah, one thing I didn't write much about is I've also been trying to drink a little beet juice the day before a race too

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  6. I think I need to give my pre-race and long run fuel a little more thought. I do like the fruit crushers from Trader Joes to take in just before a race. Banana pancakes the morning of are good too.

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  7. Thanks for the link to my blog and the information. Your fueling strategy looks a lot like mine for long runs except I do a bit less caffeine. I also lug my own fluids via a fuelbelt but I do hit the water fountains as well. I tend to go through water pretty heavily. Probably from the dry Utah air.

    I'll have to investigate a bit more of the beet juice stuff. I've read mostly good reports on it and wasn't sure if it was hype or real. I am experimenting with the coconut milk as well as that is easily accessible.

    Thanks again and your blog is truly an inspiration for masters level runners like myself.

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    1. Hey thanks Eddie, I've always just to write what works for me, if you can glean something from it - well that's great too! Have a great week!

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  8. Your pre-race food and the beet juice is pretty similar to what I do. It does seem to work, although I think I need to do more about nutrition between races. And I haven't quite gotten marathon in-race fueling down yet. Great post.

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    1. Pandora, I've ran 28 marathons ... and I don't think I've quite mastered the fueling yet - it seems to be a moving target for me.

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  9. Hah! I eat oatmeal raw too. I don't like the texture of cooked oats. Ew.

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    1. I literally keep them in my car with me as a snack

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Thanks for stopping by ... your comment's always welcome!