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An Endurance Speed Workout & the Long Run Fuel Debate

Yesterday marked the return of the need for speed!

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Since our half marathon is looming (3 and a half weeks and counting!), we decided to mix up the sprinting a bit this week and do a more long distance endurance sort of speed workout. Instead of doing a series of 400’s at a 6:30 pace (more details in this post), my friend Jillian proposed we do the following workout, starting from her house:

  • Run to the track (1.5 m)
  • 1 lap warm-up (0.25 m)
  • 800 at ~7:30 pace (0.5 m)
  • Recovery at ~8:45 pace (1 m)
  • 800 at ~7:30 pace (0.5 m)
  • 1 lap easy warm-down (0.25 m)
  • Run home (cool down) (1.5 m)

Total distance = 5.5 miles

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It was a great workout! We figured it’s better practice for the race to maintain a speedier pace for a longer distance vs. doing super fast but short sprints at this point. An 800 is two laps around the track, and for each of them my pace wavered between 7:15 and about 7:45.

Here are our overall splits (the speedier 0.5 mile 800’s are combined with shorter recovery jogs in the mile-by-mile splits, so the times are slower, but you can see our second 800 was probably faster than the first):

  • Mile 1: 8:37
  • Mile 2: 8:26
  • Mile 3: 8:35
  • Mile 4: 7:58
  • Mile 5: 9:05
  • 0.64 nubbin pace: 9:22

Our average pace was 8:38 — we ran 5.64 miles in 48:43. I’m getting excited for the race — I can’t believe it’s so soon!

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While we’re talking about running — let’s chat about fuel. I have 11 miles on the docket for this coming weekend, and I never really know at what point I should start fueling on my long runs. I’ve heard that anything over an hour is a good time to add fuel, I’ve heard anything over 10 miles… basically, I have no idea. When I was training for my first half marathon, I remember eating sports beans a couple times during the longer runs but I found it hard to chew and breathe at the same time! :) During my actual race, I ended up just having Gatorade at the water stops (and wearing my CamelBak for a constant water source).

I brought this Hammer Gel along with me on our 10 miler on Saturday, but didn’t end up feeling like I needed it and was worried it might mess up my stomach, anyway.

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So, for those of you that are runners — any advice as to at what distance/duration you should start incorporating fuel into long runs? Also, any fuel favorites/ones to avoid?

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p.s. I revamped the fANNEtastic food Facebook page yesterday! Go check it out, and be sure to “like” it if you’re on Facebook and haven’t already, because I’ll be doing a fun giveaway later today on my wall to celebrate the new look :)

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Comments

  1. 1

    I usually start fueling about 6 miles in. I really like the taste of the jelly beans, but they are hard to eat. I find anything solid is harder to eat while running, so I like Gus, despite their weird consistency. It’s now almost a comfort thing–like yay, Gu=more energy!

  2. 2

    Most of my long races have had gel stations between miles 7 & 8, and again at around 15. I’ve kind of kept this as my training markers for fuel as well. Personally I prefer Cliff’s shots, but approaching a race I’ll switch over to that race’s given fuel to avoid stomach upset the day of (it hasn’t ever been a problem, but the advice given before my first long race made enough sense that I’ve stayed with it). The one time I tried Shot Blox during a run I had the same problem with breathing and chewing – they do make a great recovery snack after a long run though!

  3. 3

    My biggest tip would be to test out a few products BEFORE your race. Sounds obvious but food tastes different while you are running/exercising so even though you may not need it during a short run test out a fuel type while you are exercising to see how your stomach and taste buds handle it.

    You may want to put something other than water in your camelback which is another way to get “fuel” if you can find a sports drink with the right balance of carbs ( I think 8% is the optimal range) then you don’t have to worry about eating a fuel at a specific time you will simply be getting a constant supply while you are re-hydrating which you should do every 10 minutes during your race.

    Good luck! Keep us updated on what you find! : )

  4. 5

    I have tried the Clif shot bloks for my first half marathon training. I tried them during training runs to make sure they wouldn’t hurt my stomach. During the race I took them at 5 and 10 miles but they were kinda difficult to eat while running. I’m going to be training for another half and my first marathon in a few months so I am going to look into using gels instead and see how that goes. Let me know what you end up using and what you have the best luck with!

  5. 6

    I have only run one half marathon, but I used a Clif pace/fuel band that was at the expo for my fueling. It had me fuel about every three miles, but I am kind of a slower runner so that is like every 40 mins. I fueled with Honey Stingers -they are like gummy bears or fruit snacks and taste great, plus they are organic! In my training runs I didn’t fuel until I ran 10 miles, but for my training right now I think I will start at 8.
    I have never really tried Gu on a run I don’t know about the consistency.

  6. 8

    I’ve run several marathons and half marathons and have always found that including fuel at over an hour was pretty important in sustaining my energy levels. While I also experience an uneasy tummy after taking a Gu, it usually wears off and the benefit I get from the gu outweighs the brief discomfort. I can only stomach vanilla Gu and also hate chewing while running. Aren’t we already working hard enough?? haha

  7. 9

    It’s so true that everyone has different needs/tolerances for fuel on their long runs. Here is what works for me. If I’m going to run anything longer than 10 miles, I bring along one or two medjool dates (pitted). I eat one around the halfway point — with water. I will stop for a brief moment to eat it and drink some water. I sometimes eat the second one at the 3/4 point, but most of the time I don’t need it (my longest runs are 13 miles). I eat a date at the halfway point even if I don’t feel I need it right then (and I usually don’t think I need fuel). I’ve learned that if I wait to long to fuel, my body will let me know about it — and not in a good way.

    Good luck finding your best fuel technique.

    • 10

      Ooo I really like the date idea – I’ve eaten them before runs before and I know they don’t mess up my stomach – I would just be concerned with chewing them and running at the same time. Still, I might try this on Saturday…

  8. 11

    I really should start using a CamelBak but they look awkward to me. Did it take you some time to get used to it? Does it bounce around? Does it feel very different full vs. almost empty?

    • 12

      I LOVE my Camelbak! Just be sure to get a women’s one, and one of the small ones. Mine is the 1.5 L Hydrobak – it fits up on my shoulders so it doesn’t weigh me down and doesn’t bounce at all. Before getting the CamelBak, I tried a fuel belt – hated it (too bouncy and I felt like it slowed me down), and a handheld water bottle – also hated it (too heavy and awkward to have one heavy thing in one hand and not the other). So I’d def recommend the CamelBak. It has a little pocket for my camera which is great, too!

  9. 13

    I’m far from an expert, but I have run one half marathon. During training, one day when I hit 7 I started feeling like I needed fuel NOW, so since then, I started taking Shot Bloks at 6 miles. I’m slow, so that was the hour+ mark for me, and I would take one every mile. For actual race day, there were so many options of water, gatorade and orange slices along the course, that I think I only took four Bloks during the race.
    I also toyed with mixing water and Gatorade in a bottle.
    The bloks were easy to eat and tasted like gummy bears. I really liked them.

  10. 14

    Thanks for posing these questions about re-fueling on long runs. I never seem to do it because I get nervous, like you said, that the gels are going to affect my stomach. I really want to try it though because I’ve heard you really do get that extra boost.

  11. 15

    I trained with Coach Jenny Hadfield (writes for runners world) and she always stressed that if you are going to be running more than hour you should fuel. and make sure you test your fuel on your training runs, dont switch it up too much on race day, theres no reason to put extra stress on your body :)

  12. 16

    If I’m going to be running 12-ish miles or more, I’ll start fueling at the 5-6 mile mark, then take some more every 5 miles or so after that. But I won’t refuel at the 6 mile point if I’m only going 8 miles, for example, because I’d just rather run 2 more miles and then have some “real” food. Based on everything I’ve read, though, I probably should take fuel for shorter runs, too (anything over an hour).

    As for what I like, I’ve tried shot bloks, but like you mentioned, running and chewing are tough to coordinate! I switched to clif shots after that (the strawberry’s my favorite!). One running partner uses hard candies, but I’m clumsy and worry I’ll trip and choke or something :) I tried Gu at a race once and it hurt my stomach. I think it’s the worst feeling to run with an upset tummy, so I’ve not tried them again.

  13. 17

    I’m still not really sure about fueling on long runs. What I usually do now (and it seems to work) is cut a protein bar in half (only 1/2 for a run) and then eat it at the halfway point. Last week that was at 4 miles. Next week it will be at 5 miles. For my half marathon in February I ate it at 7 miles.
    it’s worked for me even though a lot of people don’t recommend so much protein.
    I tried Gu once (free sample) and really couldn’t stand it. I guess that’s made me wary about trying others.

  14. 18

    I started training with the extra fuel stuff, and yesterday I used mine after my first 6 miles and it wasa awesome!!

  15. 19

    I only fuel when I am running 12 miles or more on a long run, or during a race of half-marathon up. If I run 12+ miles, I usually take a gel at around 8 miles so it powers me through the last couple. If I run 18+ miles for a marathon training run, I usually take 2 gels- one around 8 miles and one around 16 miles. I have found this works for me but everyone is different.

    I really like PowerBar Gels, I found a website that let you pick different flavors to create your own variety pack- my favorite flavor is Strawberry Banana. I like that these are portable and taste good- not a big fan of the Shot Bloks or Jelly Beans because they require too much chewing, which is really hard to do when you’re running/breathing hard!

    Also, I like to store my gels in the side of my sports bra (kinda under the armpit?) so that they are a bit warm/melty by the time I am ready to take them– makes it easier to squirt the gel out. Has anyone else done this or am I weird?

  16. 21

    I’ve run 3 halfs comfortably without any fuel, and will be doing the same Saturday. I lose my appetite when I’m running. I think it all depends of the individual. I’d like to try eating during a long run, but I’ve missed my chance to practice now for half #4 =/

  17. 22

    I usually don’t fuel until I do a 10 mile or further…although I did fuel on an 8 mile but that was because I wanted to try a few different types of fuel before my 1/2 and I didn’t have a lot of long training runs left.

    What works best for ME are the GU Gels (Strawberry-Banana) and the Honey Stingers. While I usually find it difficult to run and chew, the Stingers are REALLY easy to chew because they are as hard as gummy bears (and trust me, I’ve tried gummy bears as fuel and it wasn’t pretty! ;)). The Hammer Gels were REALLY rough on my stomach but I have a pretty sensitive stomach. I haven’t tried the Clif Shots yet, but I have some waiting in my pantry to try once I start running again (stupid injury!)

    Hope this helps! :D

  18. 23

    I’ve just gotten into running recently, and I’m slowly trying to up my mileage. I’m really interested to hear your results on this one. Hopefully I’ll be running that far someday!

  19. 24

    I tend not to need fuel (if I’ve eaten breakfast) for anything under 8 or 9 miles. If I haven’t eaten I take a GU around mile 4.
    But for extra long runs (think 13 plus), I make sure to start to fuel early. I’ll take them around mile 7, then 13 or 14 if I’m continuing on even longer.
    But it’s different for everyone! I’d just say take it before it’s too late and you lose all steam. Good luck!

  20. 25

    I tend not to fuel on longer runs, but I know I should. I try to just eat something with a little bit of sugar if I can just so I get some sort of glucose running through my viens.

  21. 26

    For training runs I’ll start fueling around the 12-13 mile distance. But if I’m planning on fueling for a long run I’ll start 45-60 minutes in and keep going every 5 or so miles.

    My current favorite fuel is powerbar gel chomps. They’re not ideal for races because of the whole chewing thing, but love them on a long run or ride.

  22. 27

    I usually carry my Nathan hand held water bottle w/ half water and half gatorade on runs longer that 9 miles. I will also bring a few shot bloks in my zipper pouch and eat them maybe at the 1 hr mark and 1:30 mark and just when I really need it.

    I recently did a post on my long run accessories…http://justcallmesassy.blogspot.com/2011/02/necessary-accessories-for-long-run.html

  23. 28
    Haley Julian says:

    Around the hour mark, I’ll have 1/2 pkg of Clif Shot Blocks, but they are labor-intensive, so I try to keep gels on hand for the ease of them. I’ve heard that others with sensitive stomachs have a harder time with them, but I’ve never had any trouble. My fave gel is Clif Shot energy gel.

  24. 29

    I’ve heard that dates are great! Brendan Brazier has amazing recipes for fuel bites to use to replenish stores during long bouts of exercise, you should check them out! So yummy:)

  25. 31

    Good luck! Not being a marathoner I cannot weigh in but only say I’m impressed with your upcoming 1/2 marathon.

  26. 33

    For me, double digits are when I start incorporating fuel…but if you really feel like you didn’t need it then you probably didn’t.

  27. 34

    In my opinion, Hammer Gel tastes like hot buttered ASS. I prefer Gu.

    I’m terrible about fueling for long runs, too, though.

  28. 36

    Hey Anne! When training for my last half, I figured out that a Vanilla Bean Gu works very well for me between miles 7 and 8 of any run longer than 10 or 11 miles (right around the 60-minute mark). Unfortunately, I think you just need to experiment on your long runs and see what feels right for you! Other types of gels and beans and energy bites hurt my stomach, but I do like taking a Gu. I usually don’t feel like I need it, but I know I perform better on my long runs with some fuel. Good luck!

  29. 37

    I have shot bloks between mile 6 and 8 and then some water to wash them down. I only need Gu on super long runs.

  30. 38

    Looking forward to your marathon.

  31. 39

    i tend to fuel on long runs of 12 miles or more – favorites being the espresso love gu gels and the margarita shot blocks [extra sodium is greatly appreciated during sweaty summer runs]. for half marathons i’ll usually take one gel, and once i get to 18 or so i’ll do 2 gels or a whole pack of shot blocks, and perhaps some watered-down gatorade – and i’m always amazed how by how great the gatorade tastes on or after a really long run.

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