Long Run Fueling, and my first peak week this cycle

This week marks the first peak week in this marathon cycle, my total distance after today’s 30 km long run is around 83 km’s.  So far things are going really well.  I’m feeling way less beat up than I was at this point in my Seattle marathon cycle.  I’m doing a bit of experimenting with my long run fueling also.  For the Seattle marathon, I followed the traditional method of taking gels every 45 minutes or so during all my long runs.  It went well, and I think that because I hadn’t run those type of distances in a few years I needed the fuel mentally for sure, and also physically.  This time around, I’ve read a bit about training with a glucose deficit to encourage your body to become more efficient in fat burning.  I decided to just wing it and see how I feel with less fuel.

So far it’s gone well.  I’ve run long runs up to 30 km’s today without any additional fuel.  For one of my long runs I did have some Gu Brew in my water bottles which had some carbs in it.  My last two long runs have been 28 and 30 km’s long and I’ve just used Nuun in my water bottles, which has 6 calories per tablet, and electrolytes.  I have carried gels with me just in case I’ve felt a ‘low’ and needed the boost, but even though my legs have been tired for the last few km’s I haven’t felt that ‘low’ feeling like I’ve needed the fuel.

According to THIS McMillan article, after you run for 90-120 minutes your carbohydrate stores are lowered, and if you run 30-60 minutes after this point without taking in carbohydrates you are stimulating your body to store more muscle glycogen for future runs (and races).  He also talks about not eating any carbohydrates immediately before these long runs.  I have not done this.  I feel like going without fuel during the run is a big jump in the challenge on these runs, and don’t want to go too far this first time around.

It’s important to note that McMillan calls this the “icing on the cake”.  He does not recommend withholding carbs for runs longer than 3.5 hours, and recommends doing this only if you feel good and it doesn’t push you over the line in making a disastrous failure of a long run.  I also think that I find this kind of training easier than some people might.  I naturally have very stable blood sugar, at least in comparison with some other runners I know.  For example, my husband  needs to eat a certain ratio of foods before he runs, especially in the morning, or he will have what he calls a ‘blood sugar low’ and feel shaky and unwell.  I, on the other hand, can jump out of bed, without eating, and go run for an hour no problem.

I’m planning to do at least one of my remaining 2 32km (20 miler) long runs with a more traditional fueling strategy so that I can do a rehearsal for the race.  I will also continue to carry gels with me on the other run just in case I feel like I need something.  It helps also, that I really don’t like gels, so I am pretty happy to give up eating them!  Plus, I keep thinking of how much money I’m saving not buying those pesky things 🙂

How about you, have you ever trained like this?  What do you use to fuel your long runs?

Also, have you donated to The Underwear Affair, and entered my draw?  I have some great prizes, if you’ve already entered, you can donate another $20 for another entry!  Here’s the link to that post.


14 thoughts on “Long Run Fueling, and my first peak week this cycle

  1. finefettlefrets

    Wow, you are brave. I’m glad to hear your nutrition experiment is going well. It was great to run into you twice on the path today and you looked great both times! I did 35K today and brought less fuel than normal. It totally wrecked me and I took a nap when I got home, something I don’t normally do. Happy Trails Terry!

    1. It was great to see you too Michelle!! Sorry for the under fueled run for you, been there too, my experiment could easy lead me there too. Glad you got a nap in at least.

  2. Great update Terry and I am very glad to read that you perform fasted runs, which is a very effective tool for runners to get stronger. I don’t know how many times I’ve cringed when I see runners strap on full bottles of liquid for short runs.

    Personally, unless it is very hot or I am unusually thirsty, I go up to 32 km without taking in anything but if I do, it would just be plain water. I am lucky in that my long run route has several water fountains along the way. During full marathons, I consume about 5 to 6 packs of gu gel.

  3. Glad you’re doing well this training cycle! I usually just take Nuun in my hydro pack for long runs. I am out of Tailwind so that has done the trick. This past week I was needing more so I stopped at the store & picked up coconut water. I may experiment with gels on my next long run again.

  4. Kate

    After my 4 weeks of eating few grains, not eating pre-morning runs, and not taking fuel during my runs, I find it is a lot easier to go without fuel. I seriously used to feel like I needed a GU for anything more than 6 miles. The past few weekends I’ve run 10-15 miles with no GU, just water. I don’t know if I could make it 20 miles, but a couple hours is ok anyways!

  5. Glad to hear you’re having such a smooth training cycle, weather and all! Not surprising though, you’re a strong runner. Interesting concept by McMillan and I can’t say that I disagree however my tummy might be screaming near the end. I have the habit of not eating much (maybe a banana) before my long runs. When I’m running peak distances I usually force myself to eat some oatmeal.

    I’ve been testing out Carbo-pro for the race. Mixes with water and has no taste. It’s been easy on the stomach and I love not having to choke down those overally sweet GUs.

    1. I feel like I’m starving by the end of a long run regardless, the Gus do little to actually fill me up. Interesting on carbo-pro, can you carry enough to last the whole race?

      1. I feel like the only thing GUs do are upset my tummy when racing. Carrying the carbo pro is the problem. My belt can hold enough for 2.5 hours. It’s either get a hydration pack, or pull out a baggy a white powder at the water stations (might be asking for drug testing). I’m going to get a pack this weekend and hope it’s comfortable enough to run with.

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