During and after training and racing, supply your body with carbohydrate. The aim should be 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate (or about 100 to 200 calories of carbohydrate) every hour, after the first hour of exercise. Common forms of carbohydrate include sports drinks, carbohydrate gels, energy bars, fresh or dried fruit—and even candy.
Sports drinks do double duty by replacing fluids in addition to supplying carbohydrate. They also digest easier and empty from the stomach faster than other forms of fuel. However, some athletes are prone to getting a sloshy stomach from drinking too much or too quickly. Again, it's vital to experiment with different products and flavors in order to find what works best for you. Once you find one you like, stick with it. Most importantly, practice fueling with what you plan to use in your race.
How Should I Fuel?Sometimes it's difficult to figure out how to fuel. Peeling a banana, unwrapping a candy bar and even grabbing a cup of water are tough tasks to accomplish while running.
Depending on your fuel choice, things to consider are portability and accessibility. Lightweight fuel belts work well for carrying along gels and smaller items like a bag of dried fruit or some hard candies. Fuel belts hold smaller water bottles that are easier to drink from than paper cups. Plus, they travel alongside you.
Getting used to running with a fuel belt is a good way to practice your race-day fueling plan while training. If you want to go gear-free, then practice taking and drinking from whatever will be used in your target race.
If you're drinking from a paper cup, pinch the rim so it forms a small funnel. This way, it's easier to pour the liquid into your mouth. This will also keep you from swallowing too much air, which can also lead to stomach distress.
Some runners worry that slowing to take in fluids will cost them precious seconds. However, sometimes the added fuel helps you shave seconds off your time by giving you the energy to push through to the finish.
Pay attention to your everyday nutrition. Beginning races and workouts when you're adequately hydrated and nourished will lessen your reliance on fuel during and after exercise.
Also, keep in mind that, just like your muscles, your stomach must also get trained. By continually practicing your during- and post-exercise nutrition, you'll be able to overcome the initial discomfort associated with a new plan.
Perfect your nutrition to boost your performance. Sign up for a race near you.