Marathon Fueling and “the Little Things”

Yesterday marked the start of the marathon training build-up for Twin Cities on October 4th. I had a 2 hour long run at Moses Cone Park, where I got in somewhere around 20 miles.

marathon fueling bass lake

Doing the “Little” Things

I have never been really into the numbers and science of running, and like to do everything “blue collar”. However, making the next step to compete with and beat better guys takes focusing on “little” things along the way. Pete and Ryan Warrenburg (Burg) are working with me on this, and if I can make some changes in how I approach some areas of the sport, it will help me become a better runner and a better coach. I still firmly believe that (for me) focusing on too many particulars can be overwhelming and cause me to overthink it… And… I still find comfort in my somewhat-blind confidence… BUT… I think there is some room for focusing on the little things that will help take me to the next level. This long run was a good example of this…

The long run was my first really long run back after my break. It was nice to get back to the grind! This long run was unique because it was the first time I have ever structurally fueled during the run. Pete had me bring water bottles and PowerBar gels (PowerGel) for refueling every 35 minutes throughout the run. I was thankful I was able to keep everything down and maintain a solid pace through each fueling. Burg was telling me horror stories about former Zap athletes who had trouble taking down water and PowerGels mid-run. Luckily everything went down smooth for me.

Marathon Fueling Process

Every 35 minutes or so during the run, I would find Pete and Burg on Bass Lake. They would have my water bottle and PowerGel. Here is the process…

Step 1- Pete or Burg would start running alongside me

Step 2- Pete or Burg would make the PowerGel exchange

Step 3- Ingest the PowerGel Green Apple

Step 4- Have an awesome caramel apple-county fair-explosion experience in my mouth

Step 5- Transfer the gel back to Pete or Burg

Step 6- Pete or Burg would transfer the water bottle

Step 7- I would take the water bottle and wash the PowerBar “caramel apple circus” down the hatch

Step 8- Transfer the water bottle back and be on my way

marathon fuelingAll of this really isn’t that complicated, and it will be even less complicated when we use the patented water bottle/PowerGel shuttle technique next time. Don’t know who patented it, or if anyone has… @PowerBar contact me! We will work out those details later. You can trust me to get the royalties to the correct parties, haha!

Anyway, next time we will just tape the PowerGel to water bottle, and the process will get a lot more boring… but more efficient. When your practicing to be able to do all this at just under 5 minute mile pace in a marathon, efficiency is key!

Marathon Fueling Science

The end goal of fueling during the run is to help prevent your body from shutting down earlier than you want it to (fighting hitting the wall). Fueling mid-run allows your body to do a couple of things. The water or sports drink you drink during fueling allows your body to stay hydrated throughout the long exertion. Staying hydrated allows your muscles to continue to fire and function properly. The PowerBar gel allows your body to delay the depletion of glycogen by providing proper carbohydrates and calories for your body to run on. Once caloric energy is depleted, your body will start to use glycogen for energy. Once your glycogen is gone… you hit the wall! By taking gels throughout the long run it allows us to use the calories from the gels before dipping too deep into our body’s glycogen storage.

To learn more about full and half marathon training and useful tips, visit our marathon training page.

The Purpose

Fueling during athletic competition has come a long way since 70s marathoners downing flat Cokes and Tour riders of old taking drags of a cigarette before starting an ascent. However, all of us athletes are doing it for the same reason, to help make sure we are doing everything (within the rules) to be the best we can be! We can’t get everything right all the time, but if we are making a conscious effort to make little improvements where we can, we will be that much closer to being the best we can be!

If you are thinking about training for a marathon or half marathon and don’t know where to start, contact us today!

Thanks PowerBar for the support!

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For more from Griff you can check out his website here.