Customize your Race Fueling Plan
by Pete Miller
If you’re training for the Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon and Half Marathon, you don’t want to try anything new on race day. Everything should be tested during training. This goes for shoes, clothing and – possibly most importantly – your race day fueling plan.
What you put into your body before and during the race can have a significant effect on your performance. That means you need to start thinking about your plan now. Test different products on your training runs to determine what works best for you.
Most importantly, you need to stay hydrated in training and on race day. Practice drinking on the run, whether you carry fluids with you or plan your route to include water fountains or drinks that you have set out ahead of time. You’ll want to take in both water and electrolytes in order to avoid dehydration. If you plan to take a sports drink from fluid stations on the course, find out exactly which product your race will be using. For instance, Gatorade Endurance Formula (lemon-lime) is available at each of our fluid stations and GU energy gels will be available at various stations throughout the course. If you plan on using either of these during the race, practice with it in training.
If you have trained on a high-carbohydrate diet and typically use sports drinks or gels, you will need to take in high-glycemic carbohydrates during the race to provide a steady stream of carbohydrates for fuel. There are a wide variety of products such as gels and chews that you can carry with you and consume on the run. Most products recommend dosing every 30-45 minutes for long runs and marathon races.
If you have trained with a more moderate-carbohydrate diet and use a product like Generation UCAN that does not spike blood sugar, you may be able to go as much as 90 minutes to 2 hours between fueling. This approach allows your body to rely more on fat as a fuel, so you don’t have to consume as many calories along the course. Generation UCAN provides complex carbohydrates that break down over time, stabilizing your blood sugar for up to 2 hours.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to start testing your plan soon. Your long training runs are an ideal opportunity to determine what works for your body. No two people are exactly alike. What works for your training partner might not work for you. There may be some trial-and-error involved, but when you get it right, your fueling plan can help you run strong all the way to the finish line.