Have you planned how you are going to refuel on race day? Perhaps many of you have tried sports drinks or gels during your training runs to see how your body reacts. I would highly encourage you to practice your nutrition component during some of your long runs.
Should you choose GU?
There are many refueling products on the market and not every runner can tolerate the texture of a gel when running. However, GU's are convenient, come in many flavors and provide you with roughly 100 calories, 22 grams (g) of carbohydrates, 7 g of sugar, 40 milligrams (mg) of potassium and 150 mg of sodium. GU's should be taken with water to provide you with the fluid you need. If you decide that GU's or any gels are not for you, that is just fine. However, you do want to find a product that provides you with carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluid for hydration purposes.
What other products can you choose?
If you plan to wear a hydration belt, you can "pack" a sports drink that will help you rehydrate and provide you with the carbohydrates and electrolytes needed. If you plan to go this route, just train with the amount of fluid you will need for race day on your last two or three long runs. This way you will know how your stomach will feel with fluid refueling alone.
If gels are not for you, you can also have sport beans stashed in your belt. Sports beans provide you with approximately 100 calories, 80 mg sodium, 40 mg potassium, 25 g carbohydrates and 17 g sugar per package. They also come in a variety of flavors so, hopefully, you can find a flavor or two you love.
I have tried Clif Shot blocks as well. The math on them is simple: One block is 33 calories, so three blocks provide you with 100 calories. If you are a heavy sweater and worry about sodium losses, they also have a Margarita flavor that has additional sodium. There are also sport chews or chomps on the market that come in a variety of flavors. So many choices, so little time! Find one or two that work for you and practice with them.
What else can you do?
Be proactive! Call the race coordinator to find out what flavor of sports drink the race will provide. (The Cellcom Green Bay Marathon/Half Marathon provides the yellow flavored sports drink). If you are attending the Prevea training runs and drinking the sports drink provided, you are already practicing your refueling for race day. (Rule of thumb: One swallow is about one-half to one ounce of fluids).
How much fluid you will need on race day depends on your weight, how fast you run and the weather. Slower runners actually spend more time on the pavement, so they really need a refueling plan. All runners are different but a good rule of thumb is to drink according to your own thirst.
Plain water can be used in any running/exercise segment that is 60 minutes or less. Sports drinks, gels and sport beans provide calories and really aren't necessary for many of your shorter runs. However, I do advise you to practice with them a few times in your last long training runs before a big race.
Finally, if you are new to the "marathon/half marathon" realm, decide what you are going to wear in advance. Yes, that is what I said! Wisconsin weather can be unpredictable. Have two outfits ready and wear them on your practice runs.
Things to check for:
- Do I have the right amount of pockets for my gels, beans, chomps or chews?
- How does my belt feel with this outfit?
I know this may sound silly, but I don't buy a new pair of shorts until I know I can fit my gels in it comfortably. On that note...refuel wisely!
For more information, visit these resources:
GU Energy Dietary Information
To Gel or Not to Gel, That is the Question!