Hey everyone! I know this post may be coming late since we're nearing the end of marathon season and all, but let me just quickly talk about nutrition during your marathon (or long training runs or any other endurance event. . .)
Lately it has become popular to ingest a "quick energy" product (Gu, Gu chomps, Sport Beans, Accel Gel, Hammer Gel, Clif Shot Blocks, Power Bar Blasts, Roctane, and the list goes on. . . ). These products are AWESOME! They take most of the thinking out of refueling on the go. But (and please hear me out) sometimes we don't think enough when it comes to these products.
First of all, energy = Calories. Calories = energy. Okay, duh. . . but follow my train of thought here. You need the energy to continue so that you don't 'hit the wall' or whatever. That's why these products were made. However, if your goal for running is to lose weight then you need to be careful about the energy you take in. You need enough to get you through your workout / race, but not so much that you are replacing EVERYTHING you are working for!
Secondly, scientists (food and exercise geeks) have spent time, money and calories ( calories = energy) figuring this all out for you, so follow their recommendations! Most quick energy products suggest use every 45 min (with water! Don't forget the Water. . . ). Of course every person is different, and you will need to test out what works for you, but if you are taking a gel twice or three times as often as recommended, you may be (are definitely) overdoing it.
And third, you need to know which training runs require some extra energy. I hate to say it, but sometimes we just need to suck it up and suffer through a run. The usual rule is that any workout under an hour can be adequately fueled by eating before and then after. Just take in some water (see my previous post about hydration) and maybe some electrolytes and you should be fine. If you are going to be working out over an hour (61 min doesn't count) you need to start your refueling process early (at the 45 min mark). Once you run out of energy it is too late!
Also keep in mind that not all marathon runners are equal. The calories that you burn (and therefore need to replace) depend on a lot of things including - but not limited to - age, sex, BMI, and pace. (I created a rough table below to show some different paces and some different weights and the calories that would be burned during a marathon - just for reference!) However, the guy up front winning the marathon does not have as much energy stored within his body as someone who has recently taken up running to lose some weight. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, think about what your goals are, and then think about what your body really NEEDS. Let's face it, it's a marathon. You WILL be tired whether you take 50 gels or none (50 gels is not recommended. . .). So check out my chart (it will make you smarter! Also I spent some time on it, so if you could just humor me and look, that would be great) and then get out there and run!
min per mile - Approximate calories burned at 108 lbs - at 150 lbs
10 (4:22 marathon) - 2143 - 2977
08 (3:29 marathon) - 2129 - 2957
06 (2:37 marathon) - 2045 - 2841
So as always, Happy Running!