In case you weren’t aware of this, running a marathon is tough. Your body isn’t meant to be active for that long, it doesn’t have the fuel for it. Therefore you have to fuel your body during the run to prevent from hitting the wall and having your entire body shut down.
Typical advice for a marathon is to fuel with 30g carbohydrates every 45 minutes. A more specific recommendation comes from the American College of Sports Medicine who recommends 0.7g/kg carbohydrate per hour. Therefore depending upon your size and length of time it takes you to run a marathon, carbohydrate needs differ.
Going into the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, I didn’t calculate out how much carbohydrates I would need but I did have a bit of a strategy in place that I hoped would fuel me to the end. I had 4 GU’s with me that I planned to take every 5-6 miles. I knew there were 16 water stations and every second one had gatorade so I planned to take Gatorade at whichever stations it was offered. Plus I brought with me half a sliced apple because I learned in New York that apples during a run are mighty tasty plus I get hungry during the run and a GU doesn’t satisfy my hunger. I also brought some real fruit gummies. These were kind of a back up in case I still felt hungry or needed more fuel. (I ended up eating them.)
I figured it would be a fun exercise to compare how much carbohydrates it’s recommended I take, how much I did take and see what I would change for any future marathons. Isn’t science fun!
It took me 4 hours 43 minutes to complete the marathon or 283 minutes (ugh, put that way it seems so long). According to the 30g every 45 minute rule, I should take in about 180 g carbohydrates or if I go according to my body weight, 183 g.
During the race I took all 4 of my GU’s which totalled 120 g carbohydrate. And side note, for the first time ever I tried the chocolate GU. Being a chocolate lover I avoided it because I was afraid it would either be horrible or ruin chocolate for me. Turns out it’s delicious!
The amount of gatorade I took at the stations varied. Sometimes I would drink about half a cup and other times I would
take just a few sips spill half of it all over myself. Overall I would estimate I drank about 700mL which contains 42 g carbohydrates.
My half apple which I split up into eating two different times was amazing! I don’t think I could run a marathon without an apple now. It’s the best thing. It contained about 10g carbohydrates.
And the 6 real fruit gummies I ate had 23 g carbohydrates.
So according to my calculations…
I took in a total of 195 g of carbohydrate. Which equals 780 calories. Isn’t it crazy to think I took in that many calories while running!
I’m actually pretty impressed that I am pretty close to my recommended amounts and I didn’t really do any calculations ahead of time.
Now how did I feel? Great! I felt like I had enough fuel to get me through. I never got close to hitting a wall and never got that feeling of really heavy legs. Having some real food is a lifesaver for keeping that hunger away. I think I would use this exact same strategy for the next marathon I run. And yes I did say the next one…I will do it again!
What’s your fuelling strategy for long runs?