The following are guidelines on taking nutrition on your long runs. As you will see below I prefer the method of using gels pre-mixed in water. This is prepared prior to leaving the house so all you have to do sip at specified times during the run. This is what most elite athletes do. You will need to wear a belt that holds at least 2-3 small bottles. Most of you are used to using what’s on the course. Ideally it would be nice if you could get used to not stopping at all and use your own nutrition products and water.
Runs of 10-14 miles You must eat breakfast 60-90 minutes before the run. Runs of 10-14 miles will require some nutritional run products (gels mixed with water) in addition to water. If you notice you are running out of steam the last few miles on a 10-14 mile run, bring some nutrition (gels mixed with water) with you to fuel the next run of this distance.
Purchase a water bottle made for holding run nutrition to carry with you. Empty the packets of gels into each bottle prior to leaving the house, and then just take a small mouthful at any one time. By using the bottle, you can take a smaller amount of the gels easily and you don’t have to fool with trying to open the package on a run. Additionally, you are hydrating and refueling at the same time
Runs over 14 miles will definitely require some run nutrition in addition to water, so plan to bring something with you. Remember, you must eat breakfast 60-90 minutes before the run.
Start taking your nutritional product at about the 6 mile mark into a long run or at about the 1 hour mark into your run. Once you start taking your nutrition product, you need to continue taking it throughout your run at specified intervals until you finish the run.
You can choose to go by time and take it every 20 to 30 minutes, or go by mileage, approximately every 2 to 4 miles. Remember that your goal or purpose in taking the supplement is to keep your blood sugar levels relatively stable, and not to provide a “meal”. Therefore, you only need to take a small amount of supplement at any one time. Try taking only 1/3 or 1/2 of a gel packet. Remember; mix your gels with water prior to leaving the house.
Taking a small amount at first will allow you to test your digestive system and your nutritional demands. You can always take more of a product if you feel you are running out of fuel, but if you take too much you may suffer the rest of the run. Once you know your GI tract is ok with a particular product you can experiment with taking more of it during the run.
On even the longest training run of 20 to 24 miles, or in your marathon, most runners can get by on 3 to 5 packets of a nutritional product.
Always wash your run nutrition down with WATER, not sports drink (Gatorade). Mixing a nutritional run product and sports drink can be too much sugar in your gut and may contribute to GI distress. Some runners avoid drinking any sports drink altogether on a long run when they are using run nutrition and they will just drink water to avoid GI upset.