Below are example of how I fuel my normal training runs and how I go about it for races.
Habitual AM Runs
Most of my runs in the AM are done fasted, meaning I do them without eating breakfast. Generally these workouts are no more than an hour in length and of lower intensity, so body fat and glycogen are sufficient.
Harder AM Runs
If the AM run is more difficult, I may eat something prior. Generally this is a cup of oatmeal, a couple pieces of fruit, or a bagel with hummus or cream cheese. Ideally this is eaten 1-2 hours before the run. If the run is an hour or less, I’ll not eat or drink during. Examples of such workouts are a warm up + 25 minutes @ 90% 5k pace + cool down.
For most PM runs I almost never have fluids or calories during, as I’ve been eating throughout the day. Most important for these is to make sure you go into the run with a light stomach. Having too much food too high up in your GI system will be far worse than having too little food. I like to wait at least 2 hours to run after a meal.
We will assume all races take place in the early AM. For any lasting less than an hour I will generally take in the same type of breakfast I mentioned above, and nothing during.
Half Marathon & Full
Same breakfast as above. I do not like connecting my fluid and calorie intake for events that may require both. I will plan on roughly 200-250 calories per hour, generally in the form of gels, which I’ll carry with me. For water it’s completely by thirst. The two options are to either carry a bottle or take from aid stations. I prefer to sip, and the bottle is much better for this. However I dislike having to carry it as well. For a half marathon hydration is not very crucial, so you can likely just grab a few cups at a few aid stations and be good. I
f you wanted more water during a full marathon, starting with a bottle and dumping it when it’s gone is an option. You’ll be more able to comfortable take in extra fluids and calories early on when you’re going at a more comfortable effort, and will probably be less interested in these towards the end when you’re really pushing the pace.
Some products I recommend:
First Endurance EFS powder, click the image to see my review.
Also the First Endurance Liquid Shot, 400 calories in the palm of your hand!
Tastes great & is not thick, so does not require water to wash it down. But packaging is a bit larger than a traditional gel.
I also absolutely love gummy Cliff Bloks. Just tear the top and you can squeeze a blok out and suck on it for a few minutes. Slow release, does not require water, and tastes great. They’re easy enough to hold that you can just put it on a short pocket, hold onto it for 3-5 miles, or put inside a handheld pouch.
Great recipes for easy “meals” on the go!
Also, the energy and overall awesomeness of my hysterical running partner, Jenna Elizabeth, provide me the fuel I really need to dominate races. She is an inspiration. The end.
If you feel hungry during a training run or race, don’t fret.
Be sure to know there is a difference between hunger and low fuel while training.
They are not one and the same.
Your body stores thousands of calories of carbohydrate and many more thousand calories of onboard fat, all of which is readily available while on the move. These sources have very little to do with your hunger level.
I would go as far as to suggest hunger to be a good thing during a race. It means your chances for GI distress are possibly lower and that you do not have undigested foot bouncing around inside your stomach.
Plus, if you’re hungry, it’s very easy to fix. Grab something from an aid station. However, if you’re experiencing GI issues from food you’ve eaten, there’s not much you can do.
For my own AM runs and races, I prefer to go into them with very little to zero food in my system, a cup of oatmeal or a couple bananas is generally enough.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on hunger and going into a race/run with little or no breakfast!
However, with habitual caffeine consumption, the affectedness of caffeine is greatly reduced. This is why many people will reduce and cut out the stimulant for a couple weeks prior to the event.
But I got to thinking, why not just cut out caffeine altogether, and use it to give your key workouts a boost as well?
I do drink coffee and tea very regularly, probably daily. But it has nothing to do with caffeine, I simply like the taste of coffee or strong tea.
The plan is to be able to use a pre-workout coffee as a stimulant once or possibly twice a week as a stimulant for hard workouts.
I’m hoping this has two outcomes:
1) Better sleep
2) Better workouts
We’ll see! I’ve been cutting back for a few days and today I’m just having a decalf coffee. This is completely anecdotal but may be worth a try.
I noticed absolutely nothing different. Blah! How boring?! Of course, this was no double-blind study, but I didn’t feel any different. So, back to sipping on my AM pre-prandial coffee 🙂
Your Science-Based Guide for Using Caffeine to Lose Weight | David Brown at Lean High | “”The scientists discovered, that 50 mg of caffeine wasn’t enough to trigger ANY extra fat loss in the human body.
I’ve always experimented with diet. Since I began my weight loss journey I’ve done everything from a simple “eat real food diet”, to vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, vegetarian, and low carb.
Most recently I’ve spent a few months eating low (sub 100g) carb diet. Immediately prior to this I was on a diet similar to that of the East Africans. I switched to the low carb diet to experiment.
With the low carb diet, I was hoping to notice something with my training and wellbeing, but I honestly did not. Nothing positive or negative. I’ve been doing fasted AM runs for years, and my current 4th fastest half marathon was during a fasted morning training run. I did run two PR’s during my low carb months, but I don’t think the diet had anything to do with them.
Here is a brief rundown of why I’m no longer low carb. Feel free to comment below with any specific thoughts:
1) I don’t think I have an issue with carbs
Tim Noakes has stated that if you do not have an issue with carbohydrate metabolism, low carb may not be the best choice for you. While I’ve never done any blood tests, I have done my own blood glucose testing. From these, I am quite certain that I have no issues dealing with carbohydrate metabolism.
2) Or a problem with gluten.
Never had I experienced issues with digestion, really ever. My first meal after a 3 week raw vegan diet was pasta, no problem at all. No GI distress ever. No problem. I actually wish I had a problem with something, so I’d have something telling me “NO!”
3) A main problem I had with the low carb diet is it was very difficult to do it with minimal animal intake.
As an ethical plant based athlete, my main issue with eating lower carb was that I introduced a great deal of eggs and dairy into my diet. I do not enjoy supporting these industries and am glad to be eating less animal products again.
4) Higher carb meals are more simple
I love simplicity. For breakfast give me a bowl of oatmeal with some nutritional yeast and cut up fruit. Just boil a cup of water and pour that into the bowl. Boom, done. Often for lunch I’ll throw some rice and frozen veggies into the rice cooker and go run for a half hour while it boils. Throw some beans and peanut sauce on there, good to go. Yeah I could just cook up some eggs and throw some cheese on top, but that brings me to my next point.
5) Meal clean-up
I’ve found that animal based meals are messy and more work to clean up afterwards.
6) Less material waste
With the loads of eggs, cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc it seems the amount of plastic food storage I was going through was huge. My staple food with high carb is oats, which come in paper or cardboard and is much easier to recycle. Rice and beans also come in thin plastic bags.
7) Lack of low carb science
This was a major issue I had. There’s simply a lack of good science that supports the low carb lifestyle. This includes both for athletics and general health. On the flip side, there is an extremely large amount of research behind high carb low fat diets. Here is a good video showing both sides of the issue.
8) For athletics, it may not be ideal for me.
The biggest bonus low carbers claim for the diet and athletics is that it turns you into a fat burning machine. And our bodies indeed have an enormous amount of fat, even for the leanest athletes. However I do have some issues with this. First, low carbers generally have lower glycogen in storage than higher carb athletes, and at higher intensities such as half marathon or shorter, starting with half of the glycogen available could be an issue.
9) Blue Zones
These are areas of the world where the most long lived people live. They all eat high carb and low fat.
10) East Africans
The best runners in the world eat a diet of 70% carbohydrates.
11) High carb is cheaper
I’m a cheap guy. Oats, quinoa, rice, dry beans, etc. All super cheap.
12) I snack less
Strange enough, but I do indeed snack a lot less on a high carb diet than I do with the low carb option.
13) Desi has no interest in being low carb.
It was indeed a challenge, eating out and eating dinner with Desi while I was on a low carb diet protocol.