We are skipping the weekly recap this week since there wasn’t much to recap on! I was really sick, but I’m feeling much better now.
I’m getting down what works for me for fueling right now, because people ask about it often. I think the hardest part about finding the perfect fueling plan is that it looks different for everyone. I know a lot of fast & successful marathoners who eat pop-tarts or soft pretzels for their race morning breakfast, and I know of equally fast and successful marathoners who are gluten-free, dairy-free, whole foods only.
In my mind, I break the fueling down into 3 parts (for a marathon):
- Carb loading
- Pre race
- During the race
Carb loading really looks different for every person I talk to. Some people like to do a macro counting type thing, where they track the grams of carbs they eat normally, then 3 days before the race they shift that amount to 70-80% of their calories. I did do this once, for my first marathon. It was helpful to me to actually see the breakdown and be able to trust that yes, you really should eat that many carbs, but not more food overall. Currently, I don’t track the macros in my pre-race meals. I do make sure to wake up and start eating so I can get enough food in. I also have to make an effort to keep my fat intake lower when carb loading. Because you know what goes great on bread? BUTTER. Peanut butter. CHEESE. You get the idea. All those things are totally fine, but before a race I’m not looking to waste real estate in my stomach with fats.
Carb loading is also the thing I don’t really practice like I do with my race fueling and pre-race meal. I’ll eat a meal with carbs the night before my long runs and shorter races, but I’ve never really done a dress rehearsal of carb loading. A pretty normal day of carb loading for me: Salt bagel with fat free cream cheese (or light cream cheese, whatever I can find), peanut butter Cilf Bar snack, lunch of turkey sandwich with baked Lay’s OR Chipotle with double rice, beans & chicken, no veggies, another peanut butter Clif Bar snack, dinner usually pasta with meatballs and red sauce.
Pre race I prefer Picky Oats (I love the Beet flavor) with a banana, blueberries and peanut butter. I’ll do this 3-4 hours before the race. 2 hours before I might pick at a bagel – usually finish half. About 15-20 minutes before the gun goes off I have a Gu Stroopwafel. Some people really don’t do well with eating peanut butter before running fast. It seems to work for me, but probably because I give it 3-4 hours to digest.
During the race, I have a gel every 5ish miles. You are really supposed to do one every 30-40 minutes (supposedly), but I have a hard time thinking about the race in 40 minute chunks. So instead, I am usually running 5 miles every 40 minutes, so I like to think about it that way. I used to vary the flavors and types (blocks, chews, beans, etc). However I’m figuring out as I try to run faster that I need just a regular gel. Chewing takes too much work. I like Huma Plus gels the most lately. With hydration at big races, I carry a hand held water for the first 6-10 miles. Once I finish it, I toss it. Not the most cost effective, but I sick of holding it, and it means I can avoid the busier water stops early in the race. After that, I will take Nuun from the aid stations, and/or water. I do that at every aid station.
I practice my race fueling often in a build up. A lot of people seem to not do this because they say they don’t feel like they need it. For me it is less about whether I need it, and more about getting my stomach used to receiving fuel.
And after the race, I like to have some sour candy, and a burger + wine 🙂
What are your fueling favorites?