(Closed) runner bees – recommend nutrition for long run/half marathon

posted 6 years ago in Fitness
Post # 3
1400 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Well I’m definitely not an expert, but I’ve ran several half marathons.

Definitely carbo-load the night before. Have pasta for dinner, but don’t stuff yourself. I only eat a yogurt and maybe some toast before the race, just a light breakfast.

I can’t stand the little gel/goo packs, but a lot of people like them. There are ones that are little cubes of gel/energy things that taste a lot better.

Most importantly keep hydrated. The camel pack is a good idea. The mini marathon here in Indy I run has water every mile and gatorade. I can’t do the gatorade, too sweet for me, but I grab water every single stop.

Good luck! Is this your first half marathon? They’re so much fun!

Post # 4
7904 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort

You should go get some gels and try them out. Don’t try the first time on your half. I think the Clif citrus ones taste best (lemon-lime and tangerine are the options, I think). In my last half, I ate about half of one with some water at about the 8 miles mark and then another half about 30 minutes after that. I find gatorade makes me thirsty, so I would avoid drinking the gatorade/water mix until an hour or so in, when you start to need new carbs.

Post # 5
2854 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I really like the hammer gels. I think they’re made with less preservatives – or maybe they’re just better on my stomach. Cliff shotblocks are great too – you can just pop a few in a little baggie and pin it to your shorts (or put them in your pack). The trick with any of those, though, is to make sure that you’re drinking enough water with them. Usually I alternate aid stations with water and sports drink (more water than sport drink), and if I’m taking a gel, I’ll take it with one of the waters.

For your long run, you could try taking a gel a little before starting, and then taking another at about the half way mark. The whole strategy is kind of different for everyone, so you’ll have to play with the fuel and the timing to figure out what works best for you.

Have fun! You’re going to rock it!

Post # 6
45 posts
  • Wedding: March 2012

Jelly belly sport beans are my favorite! Good luck:)

Post # 7
2013 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

First off, CONGRATS! Running a 1/2 marathon is an amazing feat and you are almost there!

If the race provides nutrition stations along the course, try to stop at least at every other one. Also, be sure to drink a few sips with each snack (helps it digest and enter your system quicker). The gels are good, as are fruits and pretzels most races offer. The shotblocks are less messy, but they stick to your teeth and can be difficult to chew while running. I usually carry 2 or 3 gel packs with me and I prefer something that has caffeine in addition to other goodies. 

Good luck!


Post # 8
443 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@mrsSonthebeach:  Yes. Definitely don’t do a gel for the first time on the half – get used to them, and learn when it’s best for you to take them.

I love the Gu gels, and think they sell a variety pack. Some of my friends swear by their Chocolate Frosting, but I just can’t handle the taste of chocolate (it really is delicious) mid-race so I stick to Tri-Berry. 

Youre right about hydrating day-of, but make sure you’ve been drinking water a few days before, too. And carbo load at lunch or an early dinner  the day before for sure. 

Morning of, always good to have SOMETHING before — a banana, or peanut butter on an English muffin, whatever. But again, don’t let race day be the first time you try that food before running. 

Halfs are so much fun — enjoy it!! And good luck!!

Post # 9
300 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

Play around with a couple different types (different brands of gu and gel, sport beans, chews) and figure out which one sits best in your stomach. I’ve found that I can really only handle vanilla bean gu or sport beans. If I’m really nervous about it, I’ll also check to see what type of hydration fluid the race is going to have at the waterstops (gatorade vs powerade and what flavor) so I can train with that too!

Post # 10
555 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

I love the Gu Energy Gels (I second getting the ones with some caffeine in them!) and I also really like Nuun tablets to put in water.  Nuun tastes good without having a ton of sugar.  You drop a tablet in 16oz of water and it dissolves in about 2 mins.  

Post # 11
954 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I’m a minority, but I do NOT carb load the night before – or I will have a major issue with runners trots the day of.  I’ll have carbs, like maybe some oatmeal, but I don’t do anything out of the ordinary for long runs or for the half itself.  For breakfast I get a small half – caff latte and put real sugar in it- I’ll try to drink some NUUN (hydration beverage w/ salt) before the race if it is warm out.  I stop at every other water station (every 4 miles-ish).  Unless it is hot, I’d rather be mildly dehydrated than have a slosh-gut.  I can’t run with food in my stomach, so I have to be pretty cautious about what I eat/drink day of.

I use clif shotblocks or clif gels.  I’ll only use one around mile 8 during a half.  I also really like honey- the mcdonalds packets.  They upset my stomach less.

This is Too Much Information, but I deal with stomach cramps and stitches and asthma.  My night before routine involves an enema (not the dehydrating kind, not a laxative), and the day of, I run with my inhaler in my sports bra.  I also take a gas-x and immodium, because otherwise post-race, I’m not doing anything but spending HOURS in the ladies’ room.

Post # 12
5479 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Don’t eat anything new before the race… but definitely use the training runs as experiments.  I hate the gels, but I heard a trick to make it easier:  I thought the were too thick, like I had to drink half a bottle of water to wash it down, well a running buddy told me he carries it in his palm for about a mile to warm it up, make it more liquified.  It supposedly goes down much easier… wish I had known that before my marathon!

A lot of people do jelly beans or gummy bears during the run, I used pretzel m&m’s because I needed more sodium.  It went well.

I like to eat at least half a clif bar the morning of the race, I ate a whole one before my marathon but even on my 22 mile training run I only ate half.  I used to eat Kashi bars, but there was a little too much fiber if ya know what I mean…

Also- hydrate before you feel like you need to.  Don’t get too much of a deficit or you’ll have a hard time maintaining hydration and nutrition throughout the race.

Good luck 🙂

Post # 13
375 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

@DaneLady:  Agree, agree, agree! Don’t try anything brand new during the race! I love carbs and my body digests them well, so I eat a solid proportion of them all the time. But most of the carbo-loading studies were done on men and there is evidence to indicate that women don’t reap the same benefits from carbo-loading (still some, just not as much as men).

I hate the gels too, I prefer jelly beans. I like Clif shot blocks or the FRS chews, but they are too expensive for me to use on all my long runs, and I don’t actually feel a difference between “sport” sugar and regular sugar.

I also set my alarm for 2 hours before the race, wake up for 10 minutes to eat a bagel or a powerbar, and go back to sleep until I actually have to get up to leave. My (Ironman triathlete) brother does this too and he turned me on to it- it allows you to digest a bit more and still get as much rest as possible. I also drink coffee or a 5-hour energy about an hour before the start (enough time to go to the bathroom!), but I stay away from creamer or anything that will mess with my stomach.

Hope it went well this weekend and good luck with the race!

P.S. This is just personal experience. I have run 6 half marathons and am training (for the 3rd time – damn injuries!) for my first full marathon. I do really believe that each person is different, so experimenting on your training runs is perfect.  

Post # 14
679 posts
Busy bee

Everyone is different, so it’s important to experiment and find what works best for yourself. 

Agree with all PPs who said do NOT try anything new the night before/day of the race. 

Do you typically drink and tolerate Gatorade well during a long run? I’m just curious because, in my experience, if I am taking gels or anything else with electrolytes, I don’t drink Gatorade, just water. The water helps it go down easier and helps it to digest easier. The combination of gel/Gatorade is just too much sweetness and sugar for me and makes me feel more thirsty. I wonder if you might consider just water + gels, or Gatorade + a different snack (dried fruit, perhaps.)

A lot of research has been done on carb-loading, and most has pointed to the fact that carb-loading the night before an endurance event has no real benefits (unless it’s an endurance event that will last 8+ hours.) It can also upset the stomach if you aren’t used to ingesting that many carbs. For something “as short as” a half marathon, try incorporating just a few more carbs in the days leading up to the race, rather than stuffing yourself with them the night before. That will give your body enough time to utilize the carbs and increase glycogen reserves.

Some people even find that don’t need ANYTHING but water for runs as long as 13 miles, though sometimes it depends on the pace you are running, too. The general recommendation is to consume something for every 45 minutes to 1 hour that you’re exercising, but I’ve run half marathons and not consumed anything but water and felt fine, better than if I put crap in my stomach to upset it. Again, that’s just me personally, it is so different for everyone!

@jouissance:  If you like honey, try Honey Stingers! http://www.honeystinger.com/ I love them! 

Post # 15
366 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

@pomegranate17:  Agreed I love the Jelly Beans. That in combo with Gatorade got me through my training runs and marathon.

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