Beginner’s Guide to Running Race Nutrition, Hydration and Carrying-it-all – Part 1
Today I’m starting a 3 part series on nutrition, hydration and carrying it all for beginner runners. Hopefully I can share some of my ill-begotten “knowledge” with the community and help someone out…and avoid embarrassing myself at the same time. Here goes:
Part 1 – Nutrition
Nutrition is so completely individual that it’s almost comical to hear people talk about (so why not write about it?). There do seem to be a few trends though that can help you hedge your bets: a.) how does your system handle refined sugars? If you don’t have a problem than you have more options (i.e. – gels, gummies/chews, sports drinks), if you do have issues then you need to get creative, b.) do you require something solid for your stomach to munch on while you run? If so then you need to look into things like granola bars, Honey Stinger Waffles, sports beans. Each item has it’s own benefits/drawbacks (i.e. – sugar(s) content, size, format etc.), experimentation is your friend. Also, volume of calories is completely personal. I know some marathoners that take 1 gel with them, meanwhile if I don’t take a handful of nutrition options I’m ready to eat my left arm by km 32. One thing that’s really helped me recently is eating often and eating early, that way if my stomach decides to revolt on me I already have calories in my body being processed instead of being depleted and hungry.
– sports beans
– PB&J sandwiches (seriously…)
– bananas/apples/fruit slices
– whatever works for you
Once you figure out what your stomach can handle during a long run, you should look into what sugars are used as ingredients. The stomach processes Fructose and Glucose using two different/independent processes. If you dump a bunch of glucose-based food into your stomach, the glucose is processed at a set rate no matter how much excess glucose is present in your stomach. Doing this you can end up with a stomach full of food that is simply waiting to be processed into fuel, all the while sloshing around inside your gut. So how can we maximize this dual processing mechanism? By ingesting foods that either contain a fructose/glucose mix or manually combining your race nutrition so you end up with a mix in your stomach you engage both processes simultaneously. Your stomach is pulling “double-duty” processing both sugars at the same time. Twice the work at the same time…double uptake for the win!
Overall, there will have to be a certain amount of experimentation in your approach. Even if you know you have pre-existing limitations (health, taste aversions, illness, etc.) you will soon realize that almost anything CAN be fuel, it’s more a matter of IF it should be used as fuel.
Finally, when you find something that works for you, heed these 3 words: STICK WITH IT!
Come back soon for Part 2 – Hydration