Fueling for longs runs and races isn’t quite as cut and dry as some may think. Fueling is an art form. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to what works and what doesn’t work. It’s very personal and very individual. When I get asked about how to fuel for long runs, I encourage my runners to try a variety of different things to find out what works best for them.
Having said that, I always find it fascinating to learn what other people use to fuel and hydrate for a long run or race. The answers are varied and complex — and sometimes downright intriguing. My own fueling is fairly plain vanilla. Once I find something that works, I’m hard pressed to change things up for fear of aggravating my GI harmony. I’ve experimented with lots of different fuels in my time, though, some of which I found out about by asking others their experiences.
Since you may be just as curious about fueling practices as I am, I’m happy to share what works for me so you can see if it also works for you.
5 Fuel and Hydration Options for Runners
1. SOS Rehydrate
I’m a huge fan of SOS Rehydrate. I prefer to use SOS on cold weather runs. I don’t like sweet drinks in the summer. (Yes, I know, I’m weird.) I also use SOS Rehydrate in my smoothies. SOS sticks have just enough flavor to add a little bit to my smoothies, plus the electrolytes help me replenish after a hard workout or run.
Fun fact: SOS just released a certified organic drink mix!
That’s right, I said it. I like to hydrate with good, old fashioned H2O. In the summer, when I can’t tolerate sweet beverages so well, I drink water almost exclusively on training runs and during races. What’s not to love about water?
3. Probar BOLT
I’ve relied on Probar BOLT to fuel most of my running for the last few years. It works really well for me. What I love about it most is that it’s organic. It’s also sweet but not overly sweet. Sometimes, especially if I’m struggling on a long run, I’ll take out one chew and suck on it for a while to take my mind of my struggle. Probar BOLT comes in many flavors but my favorites are blueberry and raspberry. I can do other chews, don’t get me wrong, but BOLT is my favorite.
4. Honey Stinger Waffles
Honey Stinger waffles are amazing, amiright? I eat them as a snack and I even share them with my kids (when I’m feeling generous, haha!). Most often, though, I use Honey Stinger waffles as a pre-race snack. I usually wake up about an hour before I need to leave for my race, which means there have been times I’ve eaten breakfast two to three hours before race time. Of course I’m likely to get hungry, so I always pack a waffle to snack on before go time.
5. Real food and candy bars
My friend Carole introduced me to the beauty of PayDay candy bars about a year and a half ago (protein/carbs and they don’t melt!). I usually grab the snack size PayDays and stash two in my running vest and one in my back pocket of my running bottoms. That way I know I have other things to chow on besides run fuel should the need arise.
I’ve also been known to munch on pretzels, pbj sandwiches, and trail mix during long training runs. Homemade energy balls with peanut butter and oats are amazing. Be careful, though — they get squashed easily!
Running fuel is very personal and individual. Your preferences might not be mine, and vice versa. I’ve learned over the years the best thing to do is to try many different things to see what works for you. Experimentation is the key when it comes to run fuel!
Need more ideas on fuel?
Do you have questions about hydration on the run?
- A Runner’s Guide to Packs, Vests, Belts, and Bottles
- 5 Beverages to Keep You Hydrated and Happy
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Don’t forget to link up with Fairytales and Fitness and yours truly for the Friday Five 2.0 linkup! Have a fabulous weekend.
What’s your favorite run fuel?
Do you use an electrolyte drink or sports drink?
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