Thursday, January 30, 2014

Running Nutrition

I have always had issues with my stomach when it comes to running. In high school I'd get so nervous for track meets that I wouldn't eat all day. It should come as no surprise that my 800 meter split in the 3200 m. relay at the beginning of the meet was always significantly faster than my open 800 meter run at the end of the 6-8 hour meet. Derp. When I first started distance running in college, I was running to lose weight and burn calories, so of course the last thing I would do would be to eat any sort of nutrition on my runs. That would just eat in to my dominoes cheesy bread calories for later! (mmmm cheesy bread!)

When I started my blog 4ish years ago, I also started reading a ton of blogs and seeing that almost every plain Jane runner was using gels/chews/etc. to help fuel them on their runs and races. I wanted to be a faster/better runner myself, so I gave it a try, and it helped dramatically. I initially started out using GUs, and that has been the main standby fuel for me throughout countless training cycles.

When I started training for marathons, and my long runs got longer and longer, my GU consumption on a run would hit 3 on 20 miler days, and this past fall, as I've slowed down, would be near 4-5. Blech. My first marathon my stomach was so wonky that I stopped taking any nutrition at mile 20, and ended up slowing to almost a crawl throughout the last 6.2 miles. Uff.

I've always wanted to experiment with different types of nutrition, but in the past few years I've either been in the heart of marathon training or not running long enough to need any nutrition. But with this spring half training cycle I'm finding some wiggle room to experiment. Most of my long runs are in the 2 hour range, so if my stomach decides to revolt, I don't have too long to suffer through.

When I was in Madison, I grabbed some Honey Stinger chews and on my last long run, and they were great. I've tried the waffle thingy before and I had to toss it. I'm super weird when it comes to food textures, so the GU chomps were a no-go too.

So while I'm experimenting, what other fuel would you recommend? I just placed an order for GUs and Honey Stinger chews, so I'll probably be set for the spring (hopefully, I spent $80 for crimmenlly's sake!) but still would like to do my experimenting this spring while I can. Marathon training starts in June. Gulp.

Edited to add: Saturday's hourly race forecast indicates that the windchill will be -15 at race time. Lol NOPE. Sorry jaseface.


Kathy said...

I did a running group last year where we were teaching hs kids to run the marathon. I bought a buffet of energy options for my girls to try (seriously, I think we went through 30 different options). The verdict- Honey Stinger Vanilla gel and cherry blossom chews, and the berry flavored PowerGels (they are more liquidy).

Personally, I can never turn down the blue Cliff Bloks, but make sure you can handle the caffeine.

Kristin Miller said...

This is something I struggled with too! I'm hypoglycemic, so I would often get a stomach ache (RE: bathroom issues) at anything over 13.1 miles when taking gu's every 5 miles. I started experimenting with adding some ACTUAL food into my run, and that combined with taking one pepto bismal pill before a race has solved the problem. I eat SOMETHING at mile 12 and 20. I found some bars that weren't harsh on my stomach (My all time favorite are Thunderbird Bars, the cashew fig carrot was best, smooth and NOT grainy)and ate half at 12 and the other half at 20. I love Hammer gels because they don't use anything artificial, and they also sell really great endurance chews that are meant for 3+ hours of running...and I'm a huge advocate of their electrolyte pills! There, novel done ;-)