• Helen Phillips

Eating and Drinking on Your Run


No I’m not suggesting you run into the nearest McDonalds to load up on junk mid way through your race, but if you’re training for a half or full marathon, then you’re going to need to train yourself to take on food for fuel and water to hydrate during your run.

Your body has enough carbohydrate, stored as glycogen in muscles and the liver to fuel about 90 minutes of running. After this time, unless you take on more carbs you’ll be relying on fat to fuel your run, which can feel really hard.

That moment when all of a sudden you feel you cant go on, the moment you bonk, that’s the point when your glycogen has been used up, and the body is switching gear to use fat as fuel.

To keep going for longer I suggest you find a good source of carbs you can eat on the run. Everyone is different, what works for me might not work for you.

Things to try include sports gels, drinks and chews, gummy bears and jelly babies, bananas, jam sandwiches and dried fruit. What you choose needs to be high in available sugar, palatable, quick to digest and easy to carry.

You should also drink water with your carbs, as pure sugar in the stomach can cause GI issues when you run.

Have a plan that’s tested.

Start taking on your fuel after 30 – 45 mins of running and eat more every 30 – 45 minutes all the way around. You should aim to take on 30-60 g of carbohydrate every hour. A sachet of gel is 30g, so take 1 – 2 gels each hour.

The first marathon I ran I didn’t know about refuelling, didn’t take any of the jelly babies offered to me. I BONKED BADLY. Don’t repeat my mistake.

You also need to practice drinking water, drinking to thirst.

Carry a water bottle, use a camelback or hide bottles along your route. On days when it’s hot and humid you’ll sweat more, so will need to drink more water. But don’t be fooled by cold days, you still sweat so still need to drink!

If you’re a heavy sweater, or if your sweat is salty and leaves white marks on your clothes, make sure you also include salt in your race food. Some gels and sports drinks contain added electrolytes to help you maintain your salt levels.

Practice makes perfect. So practice your eating and drinking on your long runs, so come race day you’re prepared.

If you’re interested in learning more about preparing for, running and recovering from LONG RUNS, check out my Long run tips in Courses.