Today I'm answering your questions on fueling for runners. When should you fuel? How often and with what? Let's get right to the questions!

Stephanieruns Fitness

February 3, 2019 Newsletter

Your Fueling Questions Answered

Last week I talked about running fueling, and the variables you need to look at and consider. This week I want to answer the questions you sent me about fueling for runners. I do want to remind you that everyone's body is different and everyone will respond differently to fuels. It can be a frustrating process to discover what works for you but trust me it's worth the work! Let's get right to the questions!

Diane_trites @FitWhiteChick on twitter asks 'What kind? How much? How frequently? How to avoid tummy distress while fueling?'

Great question Diane, even though it's more like four questions. These are the questions we all ask ourselves when we get to the point in our running career where we need to fuel. Now we know the answer won't be the same for everyone but let's go over some guidelines. What kind of fuel? This is going to be different for everyone but one thing remains the same. Your fuel source needs to be a quickly and easily digestible carbohydrate source. This can be from a drink, a gel, gummies, candy or whole food sources, ect. This is where you get to have a bit of fun and see what works best for you. If you go to a running store you'll see hundreds of options you can try.

How much fuel to take also depends. How intense is your run? What's the weather like? How far are you running? This can be a bit of trial and error. You can start low with about 15g of carbohydrates and go up in 15g increments and see what serving size works for you. Generally you'd most likely need between 30-90g per hour but again it depends on your run and conditions. This is something you can play around with on your long training runs. Just records how it feels so you can look back and determine what works best for you.

How frequently should you fuel? I love the phrase, fuel often and fuel early. You should never feel thirsty or hungry on your run because then it's really too late. Generally you do not need any fuel for runs under sixty minutes. If your run is longer than sixty minutes you're most likely need fuel every fifteen to thirty minutes. You might even need to start your fueling slightly before the sixty minute mark. A good way to test out what you need is fuel at a set interval and when you come home from your run write down how you felt, how your energy levels were, and play around with fueling intervals from there. Frequency will depend on conditions which means this can be something you're always playing with and tweaking.

The next part is one of the most asked questions about fueling. How can you avoid stomach distress? No one wants to be out for a run and need a toilet. No one wants to hear or feel a rumbly stomach during a race or long run. Dehydration can cause stomach distress, but this doesn't mean you should gulp your fluids either. Focus on taking small sips more often to help avoid dehydration or that swooshing feeling in your stomach of too much water. Another way to help avoid stomach distress is to practice your fueling strategy. This will give your body time to adapt. I'm sure you've heard nothing new on race day. This is important for fueling too. It's also important to know your fuel and the ingredients in your fuel. Artificial sweeteners can cause stomach distress for some runners. It's important to read and know the ingredients in your fuel.  At the same time you don't want to over fuel as this can also cause stomach distress. You need just enough fuel to get the job done, and allow you energy throughout your run. Lastly it's important to ensure the food you eat before you run is digested before you leave the house. If you were just at the pub having a burger and beer lacing up and running home will probably cause stomach distress. The more you run and the more you fuel you'll learn more about how your stomach handles fuel and be better able to judge fueling options and if you'll get stomach distress. 

Thank you for the fantastic questions Diane. The answers to your questions will always be it depends but hopefully this gives you some more insight.

John Ryan @JR_RUNS on twitter asks 'How best to keep the hunger monster away during long runs?'

The best way to avoid being hungry during a long run is to ensure you're properly fueling. This will start with what you eat before you run. Make sure you're eating one to one and a half hours before your run. Something with carbohydrates that will digest but give you fuel for your run. Then when you are running you want to make sure you're fueling early and often. You might be someone who needs to fuel in smaller portions more often. You can test out different intervals but you might need to fuel as early as every ten minutes. This is really a situation where you need to play around with what you eat before and during to ensure you have that energy throughout your run without feeling like you're hungry. Thanks for the great question John. I hope you find what works best for you!

Thanks for the fantastic questions! I love answering your questions. If you have any questions on running or strength training send me a message or e-mail and I'll save them for a future newsletter issue.

Weekly Challenge: How's Your Fitness?

We are now into February. January is usually the month for resolutions and new beginnings. Maybe you wrote down goals for yourself for 2019. Maybe you've just been staying the course with your current training plans. Wherever you are right now with your fitness it's time to check in and track how you're doing. I'm a big believer in doing regular fitness assessments so you are able to track your progress. I like tracking improvement with fitness and not necessarily just the scale.

So this week my challenge to you is to track where your fitness level is right now. This information can help you with a direction for your goals if you're not sure where to go next. It also will give you a good idea of how you're doing fitness wise.

First you'll want to do a warm up. You'll want to raise your heart rate and add in some dynamic stretches. Make sure your body is ready in order to do a fitness assessment.

Here are some ideas of what to add to your assessment. you can add or remove any elements but make sure you're testing your cardio, muscular strength and flexibility.

1) How fast can you run a mile?

2) How many push ups can you complete in a minute?

3) How long can you hold a wall sit?

4) How long can you hold a plank in good form?

5) Sit and Reach or Toe Touch test for flexibility.

6) You can also add in your heart rate, resting and after the cardio test, as well as blood pressure.

Write your results down and retest every 8-12 weeks. As always let me know how this challenge goes!

When Should I Eat?

When do you eat before, and after a run? This is a question I get a lot, and as we are talking about fueling and everyone's body's adapt differently it really does depend but let's look at best practices.

Eating before a run can be challenging based on the time you are going for your run. If you're rolling out of bed at 5am for a run you really don't have the time to eat, wait and then get your run in. If this is the case I'd look for something simple and easily digestible to gain some quick energy before your run. This could be something simple like a spoonful of honey or maple syrup. It really depends what your stomach can handle first thing in the morning. 

However if you are racing or do have time before your run you should look at eating one to one and half hours before. If it's around breakfast time you could have toast, cereal or fruit. If it's around lunch time some pasta or even a granola bar. Something that will give you some fuel but will not cause you stomach distress or discomfort. You know what works best for your body.

After your run you ideally want to refuel within 45 minutes. This does depend on the type and intensity of your run. If you've gone out for an easy run you might only need some water and you can wait until your next meal or have a small snack. However if you were racing or had a long or intense run you'd want to hydrate and refuel with carbohydrates and protein. This could be a breakfast of eggs, toast, fruit or yogurt and granola. If it's around lunch or dinner time you could have a sandwich and salad or a stir fry. 

You know your body best. You know what works for you and what will make sure your body is fueled to keep you running long term. These are guidelines to consider but always do what works best for you!

Are you looking for help with your strength training or running? I have lots of options available to help. Send me an e-mail at fitness@stephanieruns.com and we can chat about what option would work best for you!

You can find my training plans on my Training Peak's store

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461 North Service Rd West
Oakville Ontario,  L6M 2V5 - Canada

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Disclaimer: Always seek medical advice before starting an exercise program. This newsletter is not medical advice. Medical advice should be sought from a medical professional. Stephanieruns Fitness assumes no liability for any injuries or damages as a result of the above content.

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