Fueling Long Runs

This week was EXHAUSTING.  All the miles, all the work, and all the family stuff.  We had lots of fun, but I am ready for a good cut back week.  This weekend, I ran a casual marathon for my long run, and decided to keep trying to perfect my long run fueling routine.  It took me years of running to realize that fueling long runs is a process that doesn’t being and end with the run itself.  While I’m still working out the kinks in my own fueling plan, I thought I’d share a few recommendations that I’ve found helpful over the past several years.

My family and I had big plans for Saturday afternoon, which meant running my weekend marathon on the trails wasn’t the best idea. Trail running is generally slower than road running, and we did not have a ton of time to waste. Instead of being bummed about it, I got in as many trail miles during the week as I could! Monday, I hit the powerlines for six miles of hill work in the morning, and followed that up with the eight mile loop at the nature preserve on Thursday and Friday. Next week, I’m hoping to get back on my trails for long run, bur for this week, 24 trail miles will have to be enough!

fueling long runs, what to eat before run, what to eat before running, long run fueling strategy, types of fuel for long runs, best food for a long run

This was an exciting week for our new house, too.  We FINALLY got our new couch delivered.  We ordered this sucker back in September, and we sold our old couch to my cousin about a week after we moved in.  We had a delivery date that kept getting pushed back, and our living room was a sad situation.  Like folding chairs in an empty room sad.  So I cannot fully explain just how much joy this piece of furniture brought me when it finally made it’s way into our living room.  No more folding chairs!  The living room looked so nice, we decided to break out the Christmas tree.  And we finally cleaned off my saddle that my grandpa left me.  Our living room is looking 18.6x nicer.

After my long run on Saturday, my boys and I drove up to Austin for a friends birthday party. She and Enrique have been buddies since they were crawling, and it was a lot of fun to celebrate together. They had the cutest petting zoo, and Enrique had such a good time playing in their backyard. It was a long Saturday, but it was a great way to spend a weekend.

fueling long runs, what to eat before run, what to eat before running, long run fueling strategy, types of fuel for long runs, best food for a long run

Fueling Long Runs

When you’re getting in a double digit run in one day, you can afford to make a lot of mistakes.  Unfortunately, ignoring your fueling does not make the list.  Here’s a few reminders to make fueling long runs easy and successful.

The Day Before
Long runs aren’t fueled on the day of the run, alone.  A strong runner understands the importance of early fueling.  The day before, you want to make sure to work in some additional calories to help keep your energy levels high.  Do you need to have a giant, family sized portion of pasta?  No (but you can if it sounds good!).  But you should try to get in 1-2 additional snacks during the day that will give your carb intake a little boost.  Something like a serving of pretzel chips, a banana, or an extra serving of oatmeal should be sufficient for most runners.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you are getting in a good amount of water and electrolytes the day before.  A dehydrated stomach is an angry stomach, which can lead to mid-run GI distress.  A terrifying possibility for the seasoned runner.  I’ve had a lot of success drinking a serving of coconut water the night before a long run, since it provides sodium, potassium, and hydration all in one.  My last tip; be careful to avoid any “trigger” foods.  Everyone knows there’s a type of food that their stomach just doesn’t enjoy.  For me, it’s large amounts of sugar, for others it can be dairy or artificial sweeteners.  If there’s something your stomach has a hard time with, it’s best to avoid it the day before a long run.  Unless you don’t mind planning your route around public bathrooms :).

Related Post: Fixing My GI Distress

The Morning Before
Some people don’t mind skipping breakfast. I don’t understand those people in general, but regardless, breakfast is not optional the morning of a long run. You don’t need to choke down half a loaf of bread, but you do need to eat something that is ideally 300-500 calories; preferably carb-based. If you need some breakfast recommendations, I’ve got you covered. And if caffeine doesn’t cause any problems, feel free to toss back a cup or two. It can help move things along in the GI department before a run. But tread carefully, and make sure you don’t over do it, because you don’t want that GI system running too efficiently, if you know what I mean.

fueling long runs, what to eat before run, what to eat before running, long run fueling strategy, types of fuel for long runs, best food for a long run

During the Run
The best advice any veteran runner can give newer athletes is to use the long run as an opportunity to practice your race day strategy; this definitely includes your fueling plan. Use every long run as an opportunity to try new options of fueling sources, until you find something that works consistently well for you. It’s also a good idea to test out different time lines for fueling. Some runners can stomach a gu every 30 minutes, other runners need to stick to more natural sources less frequently. Experiment with different intervals of time to see what will work best for your racing strategy.

fueling long runs, what to eat before run, what to eat before running, long run fueling strategy, types of fuel for long runs, best food for a long run


After the Run

Your fueling plan does not stop when you hit finish on your Garmin watch, especially during training. In order to make sure you can keep making progress on your training plan, you have to make sure your post-run fueling supports your training goals. Does that mean you can’t celebrate a long run with a donut? Definitely not! But it does mean that you should also make sure to have a protein-rich meal within 30 minutes of finishing your run. It’s also a good idea to get a good amount of protein throughout the day, since it can aid in muscle recovery. And don’t forget to re-hydrate! Most runners lose a substantial amount of water during a long run, which can slow recovery significantly.

What are some of your best methods for making sure you stay fueled for long runs?

This Weeks Workouts

fueling long runs, what to eat before run, what to eat before running, long run fueling strategy, types of fuel for long runs, best food for a long run

Total Miles: 80.2
Total Workouts: 4
100k Training, Week 3
How the Runs Felt
As exhausting as this week ended up being, most of my running felt really good. I was really happy that I was able to get in a good amount of trail running before the weekend, since I didn’t have much time for my long run on Saturday. I was planning on running 13-15 miles on Sunday in the afternoon. I’ve been trying to get in some afternoon miles to help my stomach adjust to running at different times of the day, and Sunday was a complete struggle. I honestly felt nauseous from about mile 2 onward. I survived 13 miles, but I’m hoping my stomach starts to adapt quickly, because it was very unpleasant. My powerline runs keep feeling stronger and easier, and this week was fortunately not an exception.

fueling long runs, what to eat before run, what to eat before running, long run fueling strategy, types of fuel for long runs, best food for a long run

I had planned on running a speed workout on Wednesday, but my legs felt heavy and it was pretty cold.  Since I was hitting my highest mileage this week, I decided to drop the workout and just enjoy some greenway miles with my cousin.  Thursday and Friday, I got down to the nature preserve for my morning miles, and was even able to tack on a few afternoon miles on Monday and Wednesday.  Thankfully, those afternoon runs did not feel nearly as terrible as Sundays.  By the time Saturday rolled around, I was really happy to be back on the greenway for my marathon.  I had a friend join me for about 8 miles, and Enrique road his bike with me for about 3.  It’s amazing how hard a marathon is, even when you’ve gotten this far into a high mileage training program.

How the WODs Felt
I felt so much stronger in this box this week. The gymnastics movements on Thursday were a lot harder than I remember them being several months ago. It’s one thing to get a couple of pull-ups with a solid kip, but it’s 93x harder when you can’t kip. I did really enjoy Friday’s hero WOD. I’m definitely better at longer workouts that require more pacing than intensity.

fueling long runs, what to eat before run, what to eat before running, long run fueling strategy, types of fuel for long runs, best food for a long run

What I’ve Been Listening To
Anatomy of Murder has been very entertaining throughout this past week.  I also loved hearing the “big announcement” that Nikki made on the most recent episode of the Run Hard, Mom Hard podcast.  I also started a new podcast; Do No Harm.  It’s an investigative podcast about a family who had their two children taken from their home after a doctor falsely reported child abuse concerns.  It’s absolutely heart-breaking, but a story that needs to be told.

What Went Well
This week, I did a better job of listening to my body.  When I didn’t feel good about running a workout, I let the idea go.  In years past, I might have pushed myself and forced the workout, which honestly wouldn’t have been productive.  I’m glad I was able to let go of my plans and trust myself.

What Went Shitty
My feet are very cranky lately.  I’ve had issues with a Morton’s neuroma since I was in ballet decades ago, and it usually is very easily managed.  The last couple of weeks have been a different story, unfortunately.

Plans to Improve Next Week
I made an appointment with a podiatrist to see what my options are at this point.  Here’s hoping there’s some solutions available!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: