Fueling for Runs

Earlier this summer I was struggling with being tired all.the.freaking.time!

Thankfully, I think I’ve mostly resolved that issue. I hope. The easiest suggestion was to up my iron, which I did by picking up a multi-vitamin. I haven’t had a lot of good experiences with iron in a multi (think dry heaving at my desk at work after forgetting and taking a multi on an empty stomach. Certainly not a fun experience) so I was hesitant, but I figured I’d be willing to spend $12 and chance it.

So far so good!

(Watch, now I’ll start dry heaving after taking them just for having written that).

I make sure to take them in the evening before bed in the hopes that I’ll be asleep before any negative side effects occur.

In addition to my green smoothies and multi vitamins, I also make sure I fuel properly before a run.

There’s a fine line between fueling too little and consuming any and all products because OMG they’ll make me run faster. I’m usually the camp of fueling too little.

One thing I started to do was to take Vega Pre-workout energizer before any run longer than 45 minutes. Given one scoop of the energizer has 70 calories, I know I’m burning that off and then some during a run of 45+ minutes.

I’ll also bring water for any runs longer than 45 minutes. I find I’m usually okay without up to 45 minutes, but once I hit that threshold I need something. That said, if I’m running a 10k race I’ll forego the water and water stations because they take up too much time (which is why I train without water for up to 45 minutes).

For any run longer than an hour I’ll bring a gel along with my water. Again, if I’m just going to be running an hour I won’t bring a gel because I know I should have enough glycogen stores for roughly an hours worth of exercise. Through trial and error I’ve determined that it’s best for me to take a gel between 40 and 45 minutes it takes 15-20 minutes for the gel to digest and hit my system.

Previously I was using Cliff gels, but once I found out Vega also had a gel product I decided to try those. They’re less gooey than the Cliff gels and are sweetened with dates, so have a bit of a date taste, but I quite like them so far. I’d say I like the coffee flavour Cliff gels better, but I think the Vega gels are healthier and are easy on my stomach, so I’m going to continue to use those.

Most gels are about 100 calories each, so keep that in mind should you use them to fuel, you don’t want to be eating 4 or 5 of them on an hour-long run 🙂

(Now, here’s where it’s very trial and error. Some people love gels, some people hate them. Some people love sports drinks, some people hate them. Some people love the chews, some people hate them. The best advice I can give is buy one of everything and try them out during training runs. Do not ever (seriously ever) try a new food product on race day.)

Finally, recovery.

Last year I discovered nuun hydration tablets and I really really like them. No matter how short my run, I’ll drop a tablet into my water once I’m done. I’ve also found these are great for after a hot yoga class to restore electrolyte balance.

If I’m going for hard run (usually 60+ minutes) I’ll mix up a Vega Recovery accelerator drink instead of a nuun. Again, it’s important to keep in mind that the recovery drink has 80 calories, so consuming after a short run isn’t necessarily the greatest idea.

It’s always a good idea to get a combination of protein and carbs consumed within 30 minutes of finishing exercise to help muscles heal and to reduce soreness, so I like the Vega recovery drink because it has a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein.

I’ve been following this way of fueling for a few weeks now and have noticed a significant improvement in my endurance and speed. On days where I don’t have my pre-workout drink I feel sluggish and tired. This may all be the placebo effect, but if that’s what it takes, I’m okay with it!

Now, a note about calories….I don’t explicitly count calories on a day-to-day basis, but I also don’t like using running as an excuse to eat anything and everything in sight. It can be really easy to consume too much of something because it’s good for me so I definitely try to balance my exercise nutrition carefully.

Last week I went on a 10k run, it took me 61 minutes and I burned roughly 630 calories. I wasn’t actually planning on running that far so I didn’t bring water (bad!) but did have my pre and post workout drinks totalling 150 calories for both, so I burned a net of 480 calories. It doesn’t take much to eat 480 additional calories (if I had brought a gel, which I don’t need for an hour run, it would have only been 380!) so I try to make healthful choices after a run too. I may think I’ve earned that ice cream, but is an ice cream worth running for an hour? (Some days, yes it is!).

***

I just found out that the fuel offered on course for SeaWheeze will be Vega Gels, which is awesome!

Advice to anyone who is running SeaWheeze: head to your local health food store and pick up some Vega Gels to try on your training runs so you don’t upset your stomach if you use the ones on course 🙂

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