Fueling Fears

It’s no secret that I love — nay, adore — food.

Pasta and spinach = one of my favorite pre-long run meals
The best breakfast ever, courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando buffet
Edamame hummus and whole-wheat pita? The perfect poolside snack
I will most likely be having some of this later
Last night's dinner, all made by a certain man in my life who is an exceptional cook. I didn't help at all. Not even a little bit.

In my world, the basic food groups are trail mix, hummus, spinach, pasta, fish, pad thai, Brussels sprouts and 16 Handles. It’s a pretty solid diet. All those foods are great friends with Crohn’s Disease, so it works out quite well for me.

But fueling for a marathon is different than fueling for a regular day.

And I’m terrified of fueling for this marathon.

I’ve never needed additional energy during my half marathons. Adrenaline gets me through the first five miles, determination gets me through the next five and exhaustion brings me to the finish.

I know I can’t survive 26.2 miles without putting additional something into my body.

During my delightful 15.5 mile run — potentially my favorite long run so far during training — I sampled Gu Chomps along the way.

I still had energy after running 15.5 miles. Gu Chomp success!

The Chomps were fine.

They definitely helped, and they didn’t taste bad.

But when I used that same energy source during my 20-miler in D.C., I had a different experience.

Paused at mile 13, not feeling so energized

I got two Chomps down fine early on.

Around mile 10 I took two more.

By the time I hit mile 13 and wanted to take a few more, I couldn’t get them down. The issue wasn’t with my stomach — the issue was that by this point the strawberry Chomps tasted bad, were tough for me to chew and just grossed me out.

Keep in mind I was storing them in the sweaty ass pocket of my shorts, but still. They were safe inside the bag they came in. I don’t think I got sweat on them.

OK maybe I got sweat on them.

My point is that the Gu Chomps aren’t enough to get me through the marathon.

I’ve avoided trying any gel products because the idea of them freaks me out.

The weird gooey consistency? The packet they come in? The totally artificial flavors and ingredients?

Remind me why I want to throw those things down my throat several times as I’m running?

Last night I hit up my beloved local running store to make a purchase: Gu.

Two different brands, three different flavors

I’ve heard good things about the Vanilla Bean and the Mint Chocolate, and the regular chocolate Clif is to sample a different brand.

Tomorrow’s long run plan is 14 manageable miles. I feel like that’s a good, safe time to try out these nasty things and attempt to get over my mental hurdle with fueling fear.

I’ll be in Central Park, so I know where the water fountains are. (Yes, I know to take these with plenty of water.)

I’ll also know where the bathrooms are. You know, just in case.

I want to figure out my pre-marathon breakfast as well. Usually I just eat a granola bar and that’s enough to get me through a lot of miles. Anything larger and I don’t feel well. A big breakfast weighs me down.

Tomorrow I may try something new though. We’ll see.

I’m very indecisive and afraid of food when it comes to running.

I am not afraid of wearing long, bright pink skirts on the streets of NYC.

Hello. I am Ali. I am wearing pink.

NOW HELP ME: I know you have tips, tricks and genius plans for marathon fueling. Obviously each food plan is customized for your own needs, but I’d love to hear what you have for breakfast and how you fuel (including how often) throughout your race. Please help me. I’m so excited…I’m so excited…I’m so…so…scared…



0 Responses

  1. I usually use sport beans. When they aren’t an option I am all over jelly beans, fruit snacks, or swedish fish. I have some gu but I am super scared of it-I hear some people do better when it is cold but I don’t know how that works since isn’t it going to be warm by the time you need it on a run? I tried gu brew mixed with water this morning on my bike ride, dug the blueberry pomegranate flavor! Good luck.

  2. I really struggle with the texture of Gu, and I was talking to a friend of mine about it. She’s a triathlete and had done a training program before her first race where they suggested that if you have a hard time with the texture, you should mix the Gu in with your water. So I tried it: I bought the lemon-lime (figured it’d be like Gatorade) and mixed it in with my 4 8 oz water bottles in my water belt…that way every time I took a drink, I’d not only get the Gu but I’d also get the right about of water necessary to digest each packet. The after taste was a little funky but I got used to it really quickly, and it made a HUGE difference!

  3. Hammer Gel has also been my go-to gels, love the Raspberry flavor 🙂 I have also been using eLoad and eLoad Fly and this works great on my stomach. Tomorrow I am testing the amounts to use on my 21K run and hopefully this will dictate what to use on marathon day!!

  4. Hi Ali – I figured I would take this opportunity to de-lurk! I, like Kristin Miller, swear by the Hammer products. They’re the only gels that don’t bother my stomach or make my mouth feel gummy. Sometimes, I’ll take along a few Swedish Fish, just to mix it up (and because they are delicious). Although, as you know, chewing after 16+ miles can be unthinkably difficult.

    As for pre-run fuel. I stand by the old PB and cinnamon raisin bagel combo. It’s not always fun, but it sure is effective. Good luck with the rest of your training!

  5. Hammer Gel is the only thing I’ve ever found that doesn’t upset my stomach — no simple sugars. Regular Gu and PowerGel rip me up. I take one at :45, and every :30 thereafter. 12 of 13 marathons this route, and it hasn’t done me wrong! I also take Endurolytes (electrolyte caps) because my stomach can’t handle the sugar in Gatorade.

    B’fast is piece of toast with big ol smear of soynut butter (fake PB…allergic to the real stuff) and some honey.

  6. im a huge fan of fruit snacks – just the everyday fruit snacks you can get at the grocery store, or you can be fancy and get some annie’s fruit bunnies. these are smaller than chomps and are easier for me to eat. they are gummy (not hard like sport beans) and provide insta-carbs. plus, they are individually packaged – great for long runs. definitely give them a try!

  7. I am also digestively challenged (gluten free, soy free, dairy free, etc), and for a long time I thought I couldn’t eat ANYTHING before a run–training for my first marathon I literally had to plan a bathroom stop in within the first 45 minutes of every run because even my empty stomach would rebel. Figuring out what foods I can’t eat (goodbye, gluten) helped SO much, but I still had to “train” my stomach to accept food before and during runs. I just kept eating before running, dealt with the consequences a couple of times, but ultimately my stomach caved in and now I can eat two pieces of gluten free toast with pb and honey like, 30 minutes before I start running with no problems. And let me tell you, it feels better 2 hours in to have started off with a full tank.

    For during runs, I can’t do gels because they upset my stomach (and particularly not GU–watch out for the calcium carbonate, holy GI issues. Why they put that in there is beyond me…), but shot blocs and chomps are awesome. When grad student me can’t pay $2.50 for 200 calories of sugar, though, I go the poor man’s route: gummy bears. They’re softer and smaller, which is actually better, and the sugar boost is the same. It’s all about trial and error to find what works for you–good luck!!

  8. Everybody is different, so I think it’s good that you’re experimenting NOW with a couple different gels to see what will work on marathon day. Once you find something that agrees, don’t change it up! I know gels can be kind of scary/gross at first, but once you realize how easy it is to just slurp them down with some water – no chewing involved – you might really like them.

  9. Last fall when I was training for my first marathon, I tried a Clif Gu Raspberry flavored and it almost came back up immediately. I prefer the GU– lime flavor! That’s what I ended up having race day, but it definitely took some experimenting.

  10. I’m a huge fan of the Cliff Shot gels. I think their fruity ones – raspberry, strawberry, and lemon-lime – taste waaay better than the chocolate, vanilla, and espresso ones. The fruit ones taste sort of Gatorade like to me. So if the chocolate one doesn’t go well tomorrow, I’d recommend giving them a second chance with a different flavor.

    For long-run breakfast, PB&J and bananas have always done well by me.

    Happy fueling!

  11. this has worked for me for my last 8 marathons (tried and tested!) — breakfast is wheat bread with PB and a bottle of water. during the race i eat 3 shot bloks every 4 miles (so miles 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24) along with water at every aid station (i stay away from gatorade). this summer i also added a salt cap to the mix along with my shot bloks.

  12. I’ve tried gu chomps and stuff, but I find that my mouth is just TOO tight when I get running for a long time (i must clinch my teeth) I have a hard time chewing then I choke.

    I’m a huge fan of the gu. I used lots of it during my marathon training last year and during the marathon.

    Vanilla bean is awesome, tastes like cake frosting.
    I love all of the fruity flavors, esp, orange mandarin, and tripple berry. HB’s favorite is strawberry banana, but I beg to differ. it tastes like a sock.

  13. I was terrified of Gu! I thought it would destroy my weak stomach. Then I had to DNF in a marathon last year because I literally could not swallow my trusted Gatorade or Sharkies. So I had to try Gu for my next race. It’s amazing- especially the Vanilla Bean. I kind of hate myself for not trying it sooner. I hope you love it!

  14. One thing I actually started eating in the morning is pasta with tomato sauce. Previously I would eat a bagel and a piece of banana which worked fine but something about the pasta makes it easier for me to eat in the mornings before races, especially longer ones like halves or fulls.

    If you don’t like the artificial flavors you should try honey stingers. They are just honey.

    Good luck with your run! Hope the GUs work out!

  15. The food at top looked scrumptious!!!!
    Try gels, they may be easier to consume later on… Or a combination of gels and chomps. As long as you get nutrition in the early miles, gatorade should get you through the rest…


  16. So I like the cliff shots. I particularly like the citrus flavored ones its not too intense. I tried eating cliff shot blocks which are like gu chomps but i have trouble chewing and running, but really like those when i play frisbee.

    Before my half marathons if i have an hour or so to digest i eat an open faced pb & jelly sandwich. Its got lots of energy but not too heavy.

  17. My pre-long run meal is always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on toasted bread. I try to eat this 2 hours before the run. During the run, I use the chocolate flavored Gu, which is pretty frickin tasty, every 4-5 miles. I also alternate between water and Gatorade or whatever sports drink the race is offering. I always take my Gu with water though.
    I have 3 racing fuel tips:
    1) Practice, practice, practice! It is soooo important to practice your long runs with the fuels that you’ll be using on race day to see how your body reacts. Check with the race to see what type of sports drink that they’re offering (if you choose not to carry your own). Buy some and practice with that too.
    2) Pack something fun. I often bring a small ziplock baggie of a few swedish fish or a couple of gummies. When I was dragging at mile 23, it gave me a little pep in my step!
    3) Always pack one extra ‘fuel’. If I plan on taking 4 Gu packs during a race, then I’ll pack 5. That way if I drop one or end up needing an extra because I’m feeling weak, I have it on hand.
    I hope that helps! Good luck with the marathon – it seems like you’re doing great!

  18. hahaha LOVE the totally appropriate Saved by the Bell reference. It’s so much more “powerful” when it’s used in the right context.

    As for fueling, I don’t blame your concerns around the gel. I don’t like it at all. I do think the vanilla gel is by far the least potent and actually tastes pretty good! I would definitely recommend you give those a shot. Also, in terms of pre-race fuel, I made a couple of mistakes this past marathon: I ate a giant dinner, but didn’t eat a large breakfast. You want to be sure to eat something somewhat substantial to fuel you through the end. Additionally, I didn’t bring my own gel but planned on relying on the race pit stops. I missed the first one and totally ran out of gas by about the halfway point. Definitely bring your own fuel and try out those Vanilla GU’s – if you check out my National Marathon recap, I talked about them quite a bit. They saved my life 🙂

  19. I LOVE the mint chocolate ones. Try freezing them overnight. It keeps your butt cool and by the time you take it it won’t be frozen but it should be “cold.” There’s nothing worse than warm Gu!

  20. Pre-marathon (or long run) breakfast is always toast with PB and honey. Works every time.

    Chocolate Outrage is by far the best flavored Gu. Mint Chocolate is a close second. If you do not like the Clif Chocolate, definitely go back and try the Gu Chocolate.

  21. Pink in a sea of black….nice 🙂 I’m not a fan of gels. I have to choke them down. I also learned the hard way to stay away from the caffeinated ones. It wasn’t a good experience-thank god for *multiple* Starbucks. I usually eat Honey Stinger chews or waffles. The waffles are a little tricky b/c you have to break it up into smaller pieces, but I like the taste so I don’t mind. Also, any run over 11 miles I also drink Gatorade (diluted with water) or Powerade. Swedish Fish are also pretty good. They’re little pieces of sugary goodness 🙂

  22. Im really into the mint GU as well as regular chocolate GU right now. When I trained for a marathon in 2009 I only used vanilla bean and now I can’t even look as it!

    You’re right, you have to fuel during the run. But you just need to find what works for you AND when to takenthe nutrition in. Talk to your coach! 😉

    And like you mentioned, you may want to experiment a bit with your pre-run fuel. The night before is important but as my runs have gotten longer I’ve been making sure I get up early enoughto eat a bit before the long run. AND leave time for it to settle. I had a small banana and a Luna bar last weekend before my 16 mile run. Worked well. For runs a bit shorter than that I’ve done half a banana and half a Luna bar.

  23. The best I ever felt during a marathon thus far was when I ran NJ. I believe this was because I monitored closely and was aware of my fuel intake. During the race is what I think helped me keep my energy throughout. I took a gu w/water every 45- 50 mins. I never had gatorade as it hurts my stomach to mix both. I also made sure I was well hydrated by grabbing water at most of the stations. It didn’t slow me down at all. I never hit too much of a wall. I really had energy throughout and only began to feel fatigued around mile 25.

  24. im not afraid to admit that i was watching saved by the bell for 6 longggg miles on a treadmill monday morning (my longest distance on a treadmill to date, do i get a medal for that?) and that VERY episode was on. coincidence? or were you also tuning in to tbs at 7:00 monday a.m.? 🙂
    im very much like you in that i tend to not want/need anything in distances up to a half, but havent gone further yet (i willl oh-so-soon though and im scared!) but i did try a few gu’s in the half last november, and while it may have all been mental, i think they helped. i really just stuck to the espresso or coffee flavor (not sure what its actually called, but it has extra caffeine, yippee!) and the vanilla bean!

  25. Great post Ali. I’m reading all the comments to get ideas on fueling. As for a pre-race meal, I think a bagel with peanut butter is the way to go for me.
    I’ve had Chomps and didn’t mind them. But you do start getting tired of them (even if they’re not sweaty), plus you really need water with them. I haven’t tried Gu, but I think I may tomorrow. I have a fear that I would get it all over my hands and then have a sticky situation to deal with the rest of my race.
    I have had Stingers and I LOVE them. I get the pink lemonade ones, but last time I was at Jack Rabbit, they were sold out. 🙁
    Is there a bathroom in Central Park near Engineer’s Gate? I only know of the bathroom by The Boathouse and Tavern on the Green. I worry about running in the morning because my stomach is not happy in the morning and I fear I will need to look for a bathroom. I’d like to run the Bridle Path and Reservoir more often, but I don’t know where the bathroom is by there.

  26. I have a very sensitive stomach too. I can’t do Gu’s. Clif shot blocks are better but I find them hard to get down while running. I usually cut them in half and only take half at a time. This helps. Also sometimes my stomach is so upset I still can’t get even half of one down. So I have just swallowed them. I also eat swedish fish sometimes.

  27. It’s good to practice this stuff, especially breakfast! I hate finishing long runs hungry. I usually eat toast or an english muffin with peanut butter and jelly, and sometimes a banana. I’ve learned to stay away from whole wheat pre-runs because they sit in my stomach like a brick. I try to be finished eating an hour before I head out (get up real early and eat right away).
    On long runs, I usually take one serving of shot blocks (you can cut them up if they’re too big), chomps, or a gel every 4-5 miles. Luna moons have good flavors too and they are small. They’re like fruit snacks. :). With gels, I stick to chocolate, espresso, vanilla, or plain. You just have to find a taste that you can tolerate.
    If I eat every 4 miles, then I don’t bring gatorade…too much sugar!

  28. Don’t be skirrrred! You have plenty of time to figure out what works for you and your stomach. Here’s what I do before a marathon.

    Eat a PB sandwich or PB toast a few hours before the race so it can settle and hydrate. Then, about 30 minutes beforehand I’ll have a banana and keep hydrating with gatorade and water. During the marathong (<– I love this typo!) I sip Gatorade and water in my handheld throughout the race and take a gel at mile 10 and 20. I like bringing my own fluids so I don't have to stop so much. It runs out around mile 16-17, so then I just stop at the fluid stations when I need to. That's what works for me! And then afterwards, bring on the real food. Hope to see you tomorrow!!

  29. Amazing Saved by the Bell reference.

    I have only fueled for several half marathons and no fulls, but I always have plain pasta in the morning, a scoop of peanut butter, and five hour energy (so I don’t have to pee the way I do when I have coffee instead).

    Then, I bring along Gu Chomps / Shot Bloks or something else equally gummy/chewy. I don’t like Gu Gels as much.

    I just commented on your last post, but I’ll repeat here — I’d love to spin with you and Matt! How do I make this happen? I have a Crunch membership but I’m pretty sure it’s only to the one by me (downtown at 90 John Street).

  30. I’m trying to figure out the same thing for my first marathon this fall (woo first-timers!!!) and during my 17-miler last weekend I fell in LOVE with Honey Stingers. They’re like the Chomps but MUCH easier to chew so it’s easier to get down when the last thing you want to do is eat (and it seems we’re on the same page about this…this is the ONLY time eating doesn’t sound appealing!)

    And as an awkward first-time commenter, long-time reader, you blog makes my day.

    Oh yea, and I <3 sweat 🙂

  31. That skirt is adorable!

    Gu grosses me out. When I follow it with water I always feel, momentarily, like I’m going to puke. Personally, mini Snickers does the trick for me–it’s delicious, has a little sugar, and doesn’t make me feel like I’m going to hurl. I don’t know how mini candy bars work with Crohn’s disease though…

  32. I don’t mind Power Bar Gels or Gus, I actually kinda enjoy them. I prefer the fruity flavors like Strawberry Banana and Lemon Lime, though, and typically can take them with or without water (though I know it’s better with). I’ll bring 1 gu on runs 14-16 miles, and 2 gus on runs 17+, taking one around the 1 hour mark and the other around the 1:45-2 hour mark. During the marathon, I think I took about 3 (one near mile 7, one near 15, and one near 20) but I think I should have taken another because I zonked at the end. They don’t bother my stomach, though, but it’s a very personal preference.

    In terms of my pre-marathon breakfast, last year I had a big bowl of oatmeal mixed with blueberries and a banana (sorry, know you hate them) along with coffee..lots of coffee. Then at the starting village I had another banana and a Power Bar gel. And more coffee. I was up before 5am, though, and the race didn’t start until 9:45am, so there was plenty of time to eat at home, on the bus to the race, in teh starting village, etc. and be sure I had plenty of time to digest and not feel too full. I hate running on a full stomach or feeling weighed down, so time to digest is key.

  33. I’ve been experimenting with multiple things as I train for my first marathon and always come back to Gu. Vanilla Bean and Mandarin Orange are my favorites. I tried the chocolate mint a few times since the taste was amazing but it never sat great with my stomach.

    Pre-run i’ve narrowed it down to a larabar and some water. I will be stalking your comments though as i’ve been feeling it’s not enough…

  34. I did Gu’s for my first half and loved them – I did/do expresso love and chocolate, and believe me – they are totally frosting. Once summer came I just couldn’t deal with them so I switched to shot bloks. I haven’t found a favorite flavor there, but I do like the margarita because of the extra salt. In my last couple runs I did shot bloks at my first fueling (4 miles) and gatorade around mile 8-9.

    My pre-long-run breakfast is a bagel w/PB. And a diet mt dew – the 20 ounce bottle. That’ll wake you up!

  35. Check out hammer endurance products (hammernutrition.com), they have pills, fizz to put in water, anything! All natural a lot of gluten free or dairy free etc and really great tasting. I started using their gel, electrolyte pills, and recovery powder. Would love to know your pre marathon meal because I need to plan mine too!

  36. The best thing I can recommend is practice makes perfect. On your next long runs, try out different fuel and see what you like the taste of, what your stomach can handle, etc.

    I really liked Gu on my long runs because you didn’t have to chew it but it took a little to get used to. I used it every 5-6 miles. Remember to drink plenty of water with the Gu so that you balance out your electrolytes and its easier on your stomach.

    My stomach was fine on my first marathon – the second was more challenging as I only had Gu and I think I should have used a few different fueling options.

    The vanilla GU tastes similar to cake batter fro yo in my opinion. Fro yo taste while running, ain’t too shabby in my book.

    Before long runs I always did toast + peanut butter + banana or a Clif bar and was usually fine for a while.

    Good luck in your search for the perfect fuel.

  37. I use GUs for half marathons, actually…I’ve found (and heard) that the fruity flavors are easier to get down when it’s hot, because they aren’t as sugary-tasting. I’m a fan of the Tri-Berry and Jet Blackberry (JB has extra caffeine). The texture is pretty vile at first, but you get used to them, and just suck them down super quickly. And they really do work!

  38. Leaving my advice. During my marathons, I usually only take 2 Gus — espresso love because it has extra caffeine and tastes the best. Anything shorter than a marathon, I only take one because sometimes it messes with my stomach.

    I usually do this at the last I find a bite or two of a cliff bar every few miles works better for me and with my stomach. As for the Chomps, I can’t handle many of those, so I’ll take 1 at a time alternating between Clif bar bites. Breaking it up helps so you aren’t continuously putting the same thing in your body. I think having something more solid, like a bar, between all the gels and jelly like substances can be very beneficial. Also, they often provide pretzels at some stations and those are good too, to keep you drinking plenty of water (even if you don’t feel like you need it, you should drink around every water station!)

  39. I changed my pre-run habits and started eating more before I run. It used to be a bowl of cereal (Raisin Bran, but now my UC prevents me eating anything with the word “bran” it). I seriously recommend getting up earlier to eat something like toast and PB an hour before you go out. Gives your blood sugar a boost and will last longer. The digestion won’t be entirely complete, but the food will be out of your stomach area before you get going if you plan far enough ahead of time. Good luck with the Gu sampling. I can’t do that stuff. Ick.

  40. on mornings before a long run and on race mornings – i usually have gluten free waffles – found that works best for me. but i have to have them about 2 hours before actually running so you can fully digest them, so it stinks if you want to get up and start running right away. during runs i only use powerbar gels – strawberry banana. the consistency is a lot thinner than the Gus (the Gus are thick like Hershey Syrup) and are really easy for my tum tum to handle. good luck!!!!

  41. Not sure about the Gu chomps but the Clif shot blocks you have to take three of them at once to get the full effects i.e. the 100 calories. That, combined with the chewing, can be annoying on a run when you have to plan for the water stops. I like the Gu gels best because they go down easy and don’t leave an after taste.

  42. LOVE the Saved by the Bell reference! One of my favorite lines from that show EVER! Have you tried Stingers? They are smaller than Chomps and Clif Bloks, but Organic and super yummy (think fruit snack). I alternate those with 1/2 of a Gu ever 2.5 miles. The 1/2 Gu works better for me because it is hard for me to get a whole one down too! Good luck!

      1. Agreed! I really like the energy chews! I did try one of the Stinger gels and it was basically like eating honey straight out of a jar. I LOVE honey, but I was definitely NOT a big fan of the gel!

  43. It took me a few years to get used to Gu, but it is hands down the best fuel I’ve ever used. I can’t chew things for the same reason as you — by late in the race, they are too difficult to get down. I like chocolate and vanilla bean Gu and orange vanilla Rocktane. (Rocktane is like Gu but with extra sodium.) I eat one every 40 minutes.

    On race morning, I eat a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and a banana. Boring? Yes. Basic? Yes. Sits well on my tummy and gets me going? YES!

    Good luck, Ali!

  44. I use Gu. Chocolate, expresso, and mint chocolate. The chocolate is sooo good…it tastes just like chocolate frosting! I tried chomps and shot blocks but I cant really chew while I run so those didnt work out for me. So I use Gu and Nuun tablet for electrolytes.

    Before a run I usually have half a banana and half of a luna bar. Not much but anything heavy makes me feel ill!

  45. (Thank you for referencing one of my favorite Saved by The Bell moments)

    I’ve never touched the gus, or gels, or ever had to even consider fueling, but I say just pretend its frosting in the pack! Who doesn’t get excited about frosting?! Or pretend you’re an astronaut and all of your food comes packed in little silver pouches- so nothing weird about this pack (?)

  46. I found these like, powerbar gel chew things at my local foodstore. It’s the only thing I’ve tried thus far, pretty easy to get down but couldn’t tell you if it makes a difference.

    Fueling for long marathon-training runs is one of the major things making me now rethink my plan for running Disney in Jan. During 12 miles today I kept thinking to myself, “I could NEVER double this.”

    If you figure out the fueling, let me know.

  47. I used to be scared of Gu, too, but can’t imagine training without it now – vanilla bean is my fave!. I had a hard time with shot blocks because I was incapable of running, breathing, and chewing at the same time. Also, when running my marathon I got so hungry by mile 20+, despite taking a Gu every few miles. Definitely ran out of fuel, but not sure Gu could have helped at that point.

  48. You really do love saved by the bell! I use gu during runs. It’d the best and the only one I like and it’s easy to carry. I take it every hour or so and that’s usually enough. I like vanilla bean, chocolate and mandarin the best. Triple berths pretty good too. Just try not to think too much about them and realize they’re just fuel. They’re there to help you. Other tip for chocolate one _ think brownie mix while you’re taking it!

  49. Well I don’t know what your “waiting around” situation will be at the Hamptons, but with NYC last year, I had a few hours to kill, which meant plenty of time to fuel up. Started with Gatorade, water, coffee, plain toasted bagel, fruit and nuts at my dad’s hotel, and then some other stuff at the start village– half bagel, half banana, more water, more coffee, more Gatorade, and a PowerBar. I stopped eating 30 minutes before the start. Also, Gatorade makes me feel sick mid-run, which is why I fueled up on lots of it beforehand.

    The first time I tried a Gu gel, it made me feel sick. But Clif Shot Bloks and Gu Chomps didn’t do the trick for me either earlier this summer, so I gave the gels another short. So far I’ve tried Gu Tri Berry and Clif vanilla bean. Both were good, but like with froyo, I prefer the fruity ones. With your 16 Handles flavor preferences, I’m sure you’ll go for the ones you picked. 😉

  50. My go to pre-long run fuel: wheat bagel or wheat waffle with peanut butter and a banana sliced on top. Soooo yummy!

    The Gu’s really aren’t that bad, just don’t freak yourself out about the consistency, think of it as half melted fro yo!

  51. I really think you should look into Clif Shot Bloks. Look at the ingredients — they are SO much better than the alternatives like Chomps, and I find them to taste delicious. Sometimes I eat them as a snack.

  52. clif shots? ick! I think u might find those are no bueno! But Gu is guud. :O) I cant do the chewy things because they take too long to get down, get stuck in my teeth and req extra effort to get them out and in your mouth. gels are easy. rip open with your teeth, ingest and move along. good luck!

  53. I’m training for the Hartford ING Marathon in October and have also been experimenting with fuel/foods. I’m like you in that I don’t need anything for a half marathon but have tried the gels on my long training runs(14-18 miles). Typically I don’t eat at all prior to a run(which I do everyday at 5am) except for two cups of coffee.

    The GU Vanilla Bean and Chocolate tasted fine. I squeeze out small portions over a mile or two so the whole thing doesn’t hit my stomach at one time. Then I drink to wash it all down. I have done one 18+ miler with no nourishment or breakfast. Felt fine and it was one of my better runs. So I don’t know what I’ll do for the marathon. I know I’ll need something and think a gel or two around mile 13-15 will be right for the rest of the marathon. I have a few more major long runs planned before October and will continue to experiment.

  54. Best saved by the bell episode every – especially the fact taht she was taking caffeine pills, if I remember correctly.

    Anyways, the first Gu experience and maybe even the second are very weird. I thought it was like putting weird toothpaste in my mouth. Finding the right flavor you like is key. You will get used to the texture. My favorite flavor is Jet Blackberry, in case you want to try that. The Vanilla Bean is good – tastes like frosting. The first time you take gels, try to take it with water right after, it’ll get the residue off your teeth (which you will get used to btw and I found the first few times I took them I wasn’t as good as getting it down). Hmm…trying to think. I take more gels than most people, but mostly because I get bored and need snack time to spice things up during long runs.

    If Gu does really really fail you, one of my friends used Shot Bloks all through her marathon.

  55. Haha, love the Saved By the Bell reference there!

    Before races, I usually eat a piece of toast or half a bagel with peanut butter and banana. I use gels during the race. I’m a big fan of the Gu Mint Chocolate and Latte flavors. I also really like the Chocolate Power Bar gel. I swear it tastes like frosting.

  56. Love your skirt! I wish I could pull something off like that. But I’m such a scaredy cat when it comes to color!

    Here’s my race fueling plan (usually for half mary or marathons):
    -Breakfast: Whole wheat bagel w/ PB about two hours before the race; a banana about an hour after; lots of caffeinated black tea and water throughout the pre-race period

    -During race: I take a caffeinated Gu about every 5 miles (for me, 45-50 minutes). I also will alternate my water/Gatorade stops throughout the race so that I’m taking in more calories & electrolytes at every other water stop. However, I never chase Gu w/ Gatorade (eww, so much sugary-ness in my mouth!)

    That’s it! Just keep testing the waters on your long runs and see how you feel!

  57. My sister has had success with Clif Bloks lately during her runs. I’m not up to a distance that needs anything however so I’ve never tried them. But usually before a weekend run, I’ll eat either some rice cakes or toast with peanut butter & jelly – and definitely wait a good hour or more before heading out! Good luck with your fueling tomorrow!

    1. Too funny. I was going to comment this and then saw the sister had beat me to it!! I have really liked the Clif Shot Bloks so far – they are the consistency of a gummy candy and really quite tasty (Strawberry is my fav)! I have been taking 1 or 2 every 2-3 miles and done well so far. I can’t handle much at a time when I am running or my stomach does jumps but these have been the perfect amount. Pre-race I am a fan of banana and nut butter and/or toast! Good luck!

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I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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