As some of you are beginning to run longer distances in preparation for the longer races that you are doing, I have written some basic advice about fuel and hydration. This topic area is huge so I’ve condensed it down to what I think are the most important things.
After 60-90 minutes of running, you begin to deplete glycogen supplies, basically carbs that are stored in your muscles that are the critical fuel for you to keep going now that you are increasing your miles. Fuelling up with carbs before and during running helps you to avoid “hitting the wall” which is where you run low on glycogen and feel like you are running through treacle. Lack of fuel prior to running can cause mental tiredness and dehydration not only limits performance but it can also be life threatening.
Now is the time to start practising drinking and taking on fuel as you start to increase your miles on your training runs. This is just general advice, try different things and see what works for you.
1 If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, it may be too late. Don’t wait until late in the run or until you feel hot; it takes up to 20 mins for the fluid to be absorbed. So drink at least every 30 to 45 minutes for easy training runs and at least every hour in cooler weather. Water is adequate to replace lost fluids for runs up to an hour but beyond that replace fluids and improve performance by hydrating with sports drinks. Sports drinks supply a low concentration of carbs, you would have to drink a lot to equal the fuel power of a gel.
2 Energy gels eg TORQ, SIS, GU contain a number of ingredients that provide instant energy in the form of 30g of carbs. The gels are easy to consume when on the run although can be quite sticky and I would advise having one of these half way into your training run and possibly 2 miles towards the end. Again, have a play around with them, see what works for you. Try pinning the gels onto you top if you don’t fancy carrying them in your pocket. Alternatively you could eat 6 jelly babies as this would give you the same amount of energy and they aren’t quite as sticky and are cheaper.
Experiment with various energy sources before, during and after training runs and practise races until you find what works for you. Please don’t eat them for the first time before or during an important race since they may upset your stomach.