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Fuelling your runs

by Lil Diamond

To eat or not to eat

There is often chat on a Wednesday club run night about fuelling runs. It’s interesting to hear that some people can run for hours with no nutrition and others treat long runs like a mobile picnic!

The science bit…

Put simply, you don’t need to take on board any nutrition for your runs that are up to an hour long. These runs use energy that you have stored in your muscles. This energy is called glucagon and it gets topped up every time you eat foods containing sugar or carbohydrate. This is why it’s really important to eat a meal/snack including carbohydrates after a run, as it tops up your energy stores for next time!

Now, after about an hour your body will have used up the easily available energy stores of glucagon. If you don’t take on board more sugar (carbs) after this point, then your body will need to start finding other sources of energy. It will need to break down fat and protein to get the fuel you need to keep your legs running. This isn’t ideal, especially on race day as this process takes some time and can increase your risk of ‘hitting the wall’ and feeling tired.

If you try and be mindful of how you fuel your body, I promise, with training, you will be amazed at what your body can achieve!

Elizabeth (Lil) Diamond

So, what should I eat?

The general rule of thumb is to aim for 30-60g of carbs which can get quickly into your system, per hour after 1 hour of running. For ultra-events, you will need to aim for up to 90g carbs an hour. 

Gels are popular as they get into your body quickly, are easy to carry and are pretty easy to take. Other specialist products include chewy blocks and powdered products that you mix with water that you can sip over a longer period of time, this can help hit your fluid goal at the same time.

Standard gels

20-30g carbs per gel (have 1-2 an hour)

Jelly babies

4g carbs per sweet (munch on 8-15 an hour)

Block type gels

approx. 8g carbs per square (take 3-6 an hour)

Jam sandwich

50g carbs ( break into pieces and eat over an hour)

Powdered endurance product

25g carbs per sachet (typically a 500ml drink)

Knowing your tummy

There is no reason why you can’t also use ‘real food’ too! Try a variety of products and see what works for you and your tummy!

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