For most people, if they are running for over 90 minutes then refuelling is necessary. The body can only store a certain amount of intra-muscular glycogen and, although training can increase the use of fat-stores as fuel, the brain and nervous system still rely on certain levels of blood glucose to work efficiently. Getting this refuelling right has been one of the most difficult aspects of marathon running for us. We have tried most things. Today’s top 5 are the products that we have found to be the most useful.
Maurten Drink and Gels
Tailwind Tailwind was developed by runners who were struggling with GI issues when using traditional sports nutrition products for distance running. It comes in the form of a powder which when dissolved in water meets all hydration, fuel and electrolyte needs. It consists of glucose, sucrose and flavouring plus electrolytes but has a mild, light taste. The problem is that it does need to be dissolved in water and drunk at regular intervals. This involves carrying a water bottle whilst running. For this reason we find it more useful for longer trail runs when carrying a back or hydration pack is less of an issue.
This is another product that we’ve found useful when small amounts of fuel are required at any one time. They are similar to traditional Jelly Beans but contain electrolytes and vitamins, and some contain caffeine. They come in a whole range of flavours and are conveniently packaged. They have got us both through a fair few marathons.
Dried Fruit and Nuts
At times when neither of us have been able to stomach traditional gels whilst running, we have resorted to the small packets of nuts and raisins that supermarkets package for school lunch boxes. We first got the idea from aid stations at European marathons where they are often available. They are slightly more difficult to eat on the run but the combination provides much-needed carbohydrates and a less sweet taste. We also find them particularly useful for longer events when the thought of no real food for hours on end is horrendous.