Got fuel? Long Run Nutrition

Picture of food for runners

Runner's Fuel

Over the last two years I’ve experimented with various fuels for long runs and recovery, from blocks, gels and drink additives to granola bars, bananas, Cliff bars, and chocolate milk. I’m still experimenting.

The first time I tried a gel I had to muscle it past my gag reflex. So I used chews and blocks, adding diluted Ultima to my water bottle on hot days.That worked for about a year. Then my stomach rebelled at the high sugar content.

The staff at Runner’s Soul, my local running store, steered me back to gels so I gave it another try. To my surprise I found a few flavors I could swallow and keep down, including three I actually like – Vanilla, Espresso and Orange. I’ll be happy, though, if I never sample Apple-Cinnamon again. It’s a great flavor for pie, crisp and oatmeal but nauseating on the run.

Unfortunately, right before our long run last week, I discovered we were down to our last gel and were out of bananas. I shrugged. We were running 13 miles. While a whole gel each would have been preferable, I reasoned that we could split the package and be okay.

Then, at about mile 7 we decided to add 5 extra miles and make it 18. How did I become a crazy person who makes a decision like this, the way I might decide to stay at an amusement park until closing, or order an extra scoop of ice cream?

We were feeling good and knew that with the spring soccer season starting it would be tricky to schedule two 20-milers before our May marathon. By running 18 a week earlier than planned we upped our odds of meeting our training goals.

Mile 7 is the point we would have shared our only gel but we waited, knowing we’d need it most the last hour of the run. When I finally opened the package and gulped down half, my muscles were tight and tired and it felt as though they sighed with relief before immediately demanding more.

I handed the remainder of the gel to my husband and wished I’d planned better. The last six miles were challenging and the last three were an exhausted slog. I learned the hard way that half a gel isn’t nearly enough to fuel 18 miles!

To make matters worse, we didn’t have any recovery food in the car. We drove straight to the grocery  store where the clerk frowned and asked if I was okay as I hobbled up to the register with chocolate milk, bananas and two Reese’s peanut butter cups. I may have groaned in response.

Vowing to be better prepared and carry more fuel than I think I’ll need for the rest of our long runs, I put in my first online order to Hammer Nutrition. Always one who likes to save money, I used a referral code from a friend and saved 15% off the order. Plus, he gets 25% of my order as a credit against his next order. That’s pretty cool.

When my package arrived a few days ago I discovered they’d added a bunch of freebies for us to sample. That’s pretty sweet from a company that doesn’t put a lot of sugar in its products.

Hammer Nutrition Products

Here's what I ordered - a bunch of gels and two recovery bars.

Hammer Nutrition Product Samples

Here's all the freebies they sent

Now, I have a referral code too (199226), so if you’ve never ordered directly from Hammer Nutrition and want to, you can save 15% and I get 25% toward my next order.

What fuel do you use for the run?

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  • nice! i learned the “go shopping first” lesson the hard way this week too. went to store after my first ten miler then bought cookie crisp and organic milk.

    the strangest combination of foods ever. bizarre.