Marathon Fueling

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Marathon Fueling

Postby quickchick » Mon Dec 27, 2010 2:38 pm

Hello! I have read the Hammer articles and fueling handbook and it is so much information, thank you! However, I am seeking a bit of advice. I am looking to run a sub 2:46 marathon in a few weeks and have been stressing about fueling. I have practiced in my long runs, but want to make sure I am doing my absolute best. I am a 113 lb female.
3 hours pre race- 2.5 scoops perpetuem (+2 Endurolytes)- do you think this is too much for my size? 3 scoops gave me major stomach problems. I tried both 2 scoops and 2.5 but am worried that 2 alone will not give me enough calories.

water until race
Hammer gels @ mile 3, 8, 13, 18, 23.
water only during race, Heed in bottle if needed.

Am I missing anything?

Thanks so much for your help! I go back and forth and some days certain things work, and other days, they don't. I have a VERY sensitive stomach.
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Re: Marathon Fueling

Postby steve-born » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:39 pm

Hello quickchick (please post your first name so we'll know who you are!) -

Typically, whenever exercise goes beyond two hours, we suggest incorporating the use of a "carb + protein" fuel, such as Perpetuem. However, that's not necessarily a set-in-stone rule, which I discuss in the section of the article Proper Caloric Intake During Endurance Exercise ( ... .1275.html), in particular the section entitled "The 'Gray Area' of fueling."

Bottom line is that I believe your race fits right in with the parameters of that "gray area," which is to say that your use of a "carb only" fuel (Hammer Gel and HEED) is perfectly fine, in my opinion. Just remember to consume some Endurolytes (or use HEED and/or Endurolytes FIzz) so that you can replenish your electrolytes as well as your calories and fluids.

As far as your pre-race fuel consumption, remember that what you eat prior to a workout or race is primarily used to top off liver glycogen stores, not so much to provide energy during your race. That (your race energy requirements) will come from muscle glycogen stores (which is why post-workout refueling is so important!), calories consumed during the race, and (most of all) calories from your body's stored fatty acids.

So don't worry too much about getting enough calories in prior to the race, and make sure that you complete ALL calorie consumption 3 hours prior to the start. That will ensure that your body uses its finite stores of muscle glycogen more efficiently and won't deplete it too rapidly. This is discussed in more detail in the article How to Properly Fuel Prior to Workouts & Races

As mentioned earlier, the primary goal of pre-exercise fueling - especially when exercise begins after a night-long fast - is to top off liver glycogen stores. And to do that it really doesn't require many calories at all... depending on the size of the athlete it's anywhere between 200-500 calories. So, at 113 lbs I think that a 1.5 - 2 scoop serving of Perpetuem (202.5 - 270 calories) would be more than sufficient. In fact, you could even start the race on an empty stomach, which is perfectly acceptable physiologically speaking and even more so it you:

1) Have a sensitive stomach
2) Don't have a comfortable 3-hour window in which to complete a pre-exercise/race meal.

This is all outlined in the above-listed article so give that a review once again... I think the information in the article will answer your questions and will alleviate your stress!

Hopefully I've covered all of your questions and have alleviated your concerns. However, if you have additional questions or if I'm forgetting something, please re-post them here and I'll be happy to help.

Sincerely -

Steve Born
Fueling Expert
Event Sponsorship Coordinator
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Re: Marathon Fueling

Postby PowerGoat » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:53 pm

Hi QuickChick,

Going for a 2:46 means to me that you have done a few marathons before. You know what it takes to finish a marathon, and finish quickly, so stop stressing. This is one of the worst things you can do for a sensitive stomach. Have confidence in your preparation. If you are aiming for the proper finishing time for your training--or you have trained properly for a 2:46--you know you can run that pace for the first 20 miles w/o a problem and are just looking at the last 10k...IF you don't do something to sabotage that first 20 miles. About the only things that can do that are starting too slowly, starting too quickly, and not being empty as you start.

If you are relatively seasoned at using your watch and with pacing--which, again, if you're trying to hit a 2:46 you should be--then these first two should be eliminated from concern. The only thing left to do to ensure getting to 20 miles in good shape is to not overdo the intake in the last 12 hours pre-race. As a member of the "Sensitive Stomach Running Team" myself, I can tell you that it is absolutely possible to finish a marathon strongly without having a pre-race drink or breakfast of any kind. You will also feel better: light and fast. This will help you mentally as well, knowing that there isn't a potential bathroom stop ahead.

When I do hard 2.5 - 3 hour runs, I either take in nothing, water and/or HEED, or water and/or HEED with some Hammer Gels. I have never taken in a bottle of Perpetuem pre-race, HEED, and 5 Hammer Gels in only 2.75 hours, and I weigh 8-10 pounds more than you do in racing season. At that speed, that would be way too much for me. I think you will be absolutely fine going with 1.5 or 2 or 2.5 bottles of HEED and 5 Hammer Gels. It might even be too much. One thing that I do that might be something for you to consider is not taking in anything during the first hour (or 45 mins. or 30 mins.) in the race itself. I give myself an issue if I take in more than about a tablespoon full of liquid in the first 45 minutes of a run, so I just wait until about the 1 hour mark. Maybe this will help you settle your stomach as well.

You said that you have a few more weeks to go. On your remaining "longish" runs, why not try nothing pre-run, HEED during, and one Hammer Gel at the distance markers of your race (mile 3, 8, 13, 18, 23)? Do it just like you want to at your race so your body can get used to it. I'd also suggest the same "day before race" meals at roughly the same times each week so you can find a day's worth of fuel that lets you be totally empty before you start. Cereal with cow milk for breakfast, pizza with cheese for lunch, and spaghetti with a roll and iceberg lettuce salad might be a typical meal for many people, but I could never eat like that without being in the bathroom six times the next day. You have to find 3 or 4 or 5 little meals that work for you--test them during these last few weeks to ensure an easy, predictable, and reliable elimination the morning of your race...BEFORE the gun goes off.

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