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

Maurten claims to be a new concept in energy drinks/gels. It was developed by Swedish scientists as a means of getting more carbohydrate into endurance athletes without causing gastro-intestinal distress. The carbohydrates in the drinks and gels are protected by a hydrogel until they reach the intestines where they are absorbed. We have discussed this in more detail previously. The product contains no artificial flavourings and has a neutral, slightly sweet taste. This is definitely my current fuel of choice and, I believe, has been partly responsible for my better results of late. Cam is still in the testing phase.

Clif bloks

Clif bloks are energy chews consisting of six cubes of jelly-like substance. They contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, each cube giving 33 calories. Unlike a gel that has to be consumed once opened, they work well for runners who prefer to take small amounts of fuel at any one time. They are easy to carry and come in a variety of flavours including a less sweet Ginger Ale. Some flavours also contain caffeine. Clif bloks are part of Cam’s current minimalistic fuelling strategy.

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.

Sport Beans

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.