What do you eat before/during your long runs?

This is probably the most consistently asked question I’ve been getting since I started training. I actually spent a really long time thinking about the perfect pre-run snack before I started off on my long training runs. Everyone is different, and different things work for different people. My blood sugar dips rather quickly compared to most people, so I’m pretty conscious of it when I run.

Back before I started training for my first marathon, trained mostly in the 3-10 mile range. A lot of times, I found myself low on energy, sometimes feeling on the verge of passing out. I typically just powered through. I knew this would obviously be an issue going into training. I did a lot of research before I started my 18 week plan–reading, podcast listening, etc. My biggest takeaway–in the past I was constantly training in my anaerobic zone and not giving myself the chance to build an aerobic base. When you train in your aerobic zone, your body relies on stored fat for its energy. When you train in your anaerobic zone, your body relies on sugar and carbs for all its energy. It made total sense to me–once I burned off all the sugar from my small pre-run snack, I was toast. I completely ran out of energy. When you train aerobically, you have an unlimited source of energy re: fat.

How do you know if you’re training aerobically? It’s all based on your heart rate. Everyone is different. The best thing to do is find out by getting a blood test. I don’t have time or patience for that, so I used Phil Maffetone’s formula to figure out my maximum aerobic heart rate for training.

It’s been a really hot and humid summer, so it’s been very, very challenging staying below this number, but I try my best. Not, when I go out on my training runs I eat a peach or a few dates beforehand. On my first 15 mile run last weekend, I brought dates in a snack bag and I ended up needing them about halfway through. That was the first time I needed any kind of sugar during any of my long training runs. I got up to 14 miles the week prior without needing any type of snack! I was shocked!

I still have a long way to go to figure out my perfect formula but typically before a long run:

  1. pasta the night before
  2. lots of water the day before
  3. in the morning, wake up and eat a peach or other sugary fruit or some dates
  4. bring dates in case I feel low on sugar during the run

Before a race:

  1. pasta the night before
  2. lots of water the day before
  3. in the morning, wake up and eat a peach or other sugary fruit or some dates
  4. on the way to the race, eat a Larabar (very few ingredients, usually just dates and some kind of nut and dried fruit)
  5. bring dates in case I feel low on sugar during the run

AFTER the run or race I make sure I get protein into me immediately, and usually try to have some kind of juice or coconut water to replenish my sugar and nutrients.

This seems to work really well for me, but everyone is different. In general, the key is to experiment with different routines and see what works best for you!

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NYC Marathon–the 9 week countdown

The end of this week will mark my official halfway point of my NYC Marathon training. I’m starting to write about it a little late in the game, but, you know, all this training means I’ve been PRETTY busy…but now that I’m getting into the real swing of things, I can start to make the time now! I’ve been loosely following the Hal Higdon Novice 2 program. This will be my first (and maybe last) marathon, but I’ve run several half marathons in the past, and I’ve been running in some form for the past 3 or so years, so I thought Novice 2 was the right fit for me. By “loosely” following I mean that the program suggests workouts 5 days a week with 2 rest days–and I’ve been working out 6 days a week with 1 rest day. I also switch around some days to suit my needs, and for any of the 3 mile days I’ve bene doing 4 instead. I think, when training to run 26.2, the minimum mileage for a single run should probably be 4.

This past weekend was my longest run ever. Since I’ve only ever run half marathons, anything beyond 13.1 is new territory for me. I ran 15 really tough miles along the Hudson River on Saturday, stopping once to fill my water bottle in a fountain. Yes–I do bring water with me if I’m going over 8-ish miles. I needed it. Summer running has been brutal this year. It’s been ridiculously hot and humid this Summer, of course. This is the first year I can remember that I’m actually excited for the Fall. Those last 2 miles this weekend were probably the most brutal 2 miles I’ve ever run in my life. Getting to past 15 and running another 11 is going to be a challenge. I’ve also found that working out 6 times a week is taking a toll on me. I’m pretty exhausted, and it definitely takes a lot of getting used to . Especially when you don’t want to compromise on going out, having a few drinks, and sometimes staying out a little (too) late.

While I’m no running expert, I have found that, throughout my training, many of my friends have been asking me advice about getting into running, training for events, nutrition, etc. Soooooo I figured I’d start writing it all down. Over the next 9+ weeks, that’s exactly what I’ll start to do here.