Fueling on the Run

I'm on my third pair of these...One of the few downsides to training so much = replacing my shoes more often!

I hope everyone had a great weekend! My weekend was full of rugby and I had fun watching the USA vs. Ireland match on Sunday. It is pretty exciting that NBC is actually broadcasting some of the World Cup matches and that there are a couple of pubs in Minneapolis who are showing others. If anyone is interested and lives in the area, The Local and Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis are showing quite a few of them. Elysia and I both played rugby in college and if you aren’t familiar with the sport, you should be! It’s a fast-paced exciting sport that is fun to watch and is also a great way to meet a lot of fun people.

In other news, two weeks from yesterday is the Omaha Marathon! I’m getting anxious waiting for it but know that my training will carry me through. I’m excited to be running another race with Elysia and another marathon with my aunt Michelle. Michelle has been an immense inspiration to me and is basically the reason I started running longer distances. She was diagnosed with Lymphoma last year and throughout her treatments she continued to run and to teach fitness classes. When I trained for my first marathon I would continually think about how, if Michelle could do it with cancer, I could do it without. She inspired me through her actions and motivational posts on her CarePage and I’m lucky to have her. Love you Michelle!

I’m also excited for the marathon just for the atmosphere that you get to partake in during and before/after the race. The expos are fun and I like meeting other runners. Right now I’m trying to decide on what my post-race treat should be. It’s a tough decision! Maybe it’s sad (but probably not at all surprising to people that know me), but I probably think about what I’m going to eat after running during most of the run! Hey, it gives me inspiration to try new things or think of new recipes! Although I’m not going to lie, after a long run I’m usually too tired to really want to cook, but I always want something tasty. Before we post on post-race foods though, we wanted to talk about eating during the race.

For those of you who run long distances or participate in endurance sports, you know that proper fueling is essential to keep your body moving. It is important to replenish carbs that your body burns in order to keep going, to recover, and to repair muscles damage. From what we’ve read, and from what many of you other athletes probably have as well, carbohydrates (glucose in particular) are what are first used up in your body for energy, followed by fats and proteins as a last resort. That isn’t to say, however, that protein and fats are not also important. If proteins are the ‘building blocks’ of your body, do you really want to break them down if unnecessary? We realize that your body can only store so much and that carb stores will eventually be used up, but it is important to prolong this as long as possible. Keep in mind, also, that we have learned this information from reading articles or in class but are not registered dietitians (not yet at least!). Here are a couple of articles on the topic:
How to Create Your Marathon Nutrition Plan
Protein, Carbs and Endurance Performance: Finding the Right Balance

Until this summer, we have used sports gels that you can buy in running or bike stores (such as Gu or Hammer Gel). While they do work great, we have been searching for and testing out options that are a bit more natural, and tasty to consume! The texture of the gels in stores is a little too thick for us and we don’t particularly like the tastes either. Some options that we have found that we like include dates stuffed with peanut butter (the peanut butter mostly because we are addicts), walnuts, pecans, and raisins. These seem to work well for shorter or mid-length runs, but can sometimes be hard to digest and many of you have probably experienced stomach issues that can be uncomfortable or downright disastrous.

Enter Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide by Brendan Brazier. The Carob Energy Gel recipe worked great on a recent long-run (24 miles) so we thought we’d share my rendition of it with you.

Carob Energy Gel (from Thrive)

– 1 Tablespoon Agave
– 1/2 Tablespoon Coconut Oil*
– 1/2 Tablespoon Cashew Butter*
– 3 dried dates (or two Medjool Dates)
– 1 Tablespoon ground Chia
– 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
– 1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
– 1 teaspoon Cacao Nibs (or carob)
– 1/8 cup frozen blueberries**
– 1/8 cup brewed coffee**
– Water

*The recipe called for 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil but I replaced half of it with Cashew Butter.
**I added these for color and taste! I was also hoping the coffee would give me a little kick but I doubt that 1/8 of a cup does that much!

Blend all of the ingredients together (adding water to desired consistancy) and put into a gel flask or plastic ziplock bag to take with you. I used my gel flask and the mixture was too thick to go through the opening but I just took the lid off and it worked fine.

Blend it up! I used my immersion blender but a small food processor/other blender would probably work as well. You can also always soak your dates so that they blend more easily.

Strapped in the fuel belt and ready to go!

What do you use to fuel your long runs?