Hmm. When I contemplate that title I shake my head- how DO those two things go together?
When I trained for my first full marathon years ago, when Power Bars were basically the only energy bars on the shelves, I practiced on my long runs to figure out what my body tolerated. Because the full marathon was going to take me 3.5 hours of continuous running and I would be burning about 2000 calories or more, which was an entire DAYS worth of calories, NOT eating would mean crashing.
But for a half marathon, with the duration being between 1.5 and 2.5 hours for most runners, how much food is necessary? Can you get by running without eating during the race?
The best advice I can suggest is PLAN and PRACTICE. Plan to eat properly BEFORE your run and what you will eat during your run. Practice eating during your run so your body is used to it and you can figure out what doesn’t digest well. Learn what works and what doesn’t for YOU. Everyone is different. That said, here are some general guidelines:
- having easy to digest carbohydrates that are readily available to your system during a run will help you spare your muscle glycogen (fuel stored in muscles) and help you avoid hitting a wall (or bonking as some might call it).
- 0.5 to 1.0 gram of carbs per kilo of body weight every hour could be a ballpark figure so get out your calculator and start reading labels on your favourite energy bars
- check out online food calculators for basic foods like bananas or potatoes to see how many grams of carbs they contain
- eat a small meal (200-400 calories) a few hours before your run
- if you run in the morning, you might want to have a bedtime snack so you won’t have to get up so early!
- carbo-rich foods require lots of water to digest so if you increase your carbs, increase your hydration
- less tolerable foods: those high in fiber (can cause gas and bloating), very sugary foods (can cause cramping or diarrhea) high fat or high protein foods (they take longer to digest)
- liquid meals are digested more quickly, and therefore more readily available for use by the body, if you want to sleep in a few more minutes before a morning workout!
What is your favourite pre-run or during the run food? Add it to the comments section below so others can benefit!