Co-authored by The Runners Forum and Heather Fink MS, RD, CSSD
Whether you are a first timer or experienced half marathoner, you’ll benefit from fueling your body before and during your half marathon. Practicing your fueling plan during training will help ensure you know what your body needs and what works best to keep your muscles fueled for the duration of the event! We’ll help make sense of the options and provide advice to help you succeed on event day!
Types of Fuel
There are many options for taking in the needed calories before and during your event. Many runners and walkers find gels, bloks, bars, and liquids, such as the products made by Clif Bar, to be convenient, tasty and easy to digest. With some experimentation during training, you can dial in your plan for the fuel, flavors and frequency your body prefers to perform optimally! Four of the most popular types of fuel are Gels, Bloks, Bars and liquids; the following is a summary of four of the most popular fueling options and their respective characteristics.
A 1oz (~100 calorie) pouch containing a thin liquid that is similar in consistency to honey. They are easy to consume and digest which enables your body to make quick use of the energy. The ability to quickly swallow the gel without chewing makes them popular! Gels come in a wide variety of flavors, and some gels contain caffeine (use the caffeinated gels in moderation and avoid if your doctor has recommended abstaining from caffeine).
A gelatin cube that is easy to chew and digest (~30-40 calories per cube). The wide variety of flavors and the gummy bear consistency make these a popular choice.
This type of fuel tends to work well before an event or in situations where the activity level is light to moderate, allowing the digestive system the ability to process the fuel. Bars come in a wide variety of flavors, and often contain more protein and fiber than Gels or Bloks which is the reason for the increased digestive time.
Liquids plays an important role in fueling. Staying well-hydrated allows the entire body to function properly, including the digestive system. Sports beverages provide water; calories and electrolytes which help an athlete stay hydrated and fueled while also preventing muscle cramps.
When exercising for more than an hour, replenishing your body’s fuel is important. Top off your fuel tanks about 15-30 minutes before the start of your event with something easily digestible, such as a gel or a few Bloks. Plan to take in approximately 100 calories every 30-45 minutes during your event to keep your body fueled. Consume your nutrition just before a water station so you can wash it down and provide your body with the liquid to expedite digestion.
Carrying your nutrition with you will ensure that your preferred option and flavor are available at precisely the time your body needs it! Carrying extra fueling products is important in case you drop a gel/blok/bar, the availability on course is longer than expected, you need extra fuel than expected, or if you come across a participant in need!
Shop the Expo!
The Runners Forum will be at the expo to assist with your last minute fueling needs. They’ll be handing out free samples of Clif Bar products with special pricing throughout their Deal Zone™. Runners and walkers have trusted the Runners Forum since 1978 for their friendly advice and experience in helping people achieve the benefits of an active lifestyle. Stop in one of their five convenient locations to get all of your fueling and hydration questions answered!
Nutrition and Wellness Solutions
If you are looking for nutrition, fitness and wellness plans for endurance activities, consider contacting Heather Fink, MS, RD, CSSD, owner of Nutrition and Wellness Solutions located in Indianapolis. Heather has been helping individuals, teams and corporations for more than 15 years by providing customized wellness programming to help beginner and experienced athletes achieve their wellness goals. She has written two books: the "Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Half Marathon Training" and "Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition." Which are still used as resources for some of the area’s leading training programs.
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