Nutrition How to fuel on a long run

How to fuel on a long run


Spring is finally here! It can be hard to stay motivated over the winter, especially with the lack of races this year. But regardless, as the sun starts to shine, running outdoors becomes much more fun again and motivation is probably never higher than at this time of the year.

This, in turn, usually means logging more miles!

Whether you are building your endurance for the first time, or just shaking off the cobwebs, the key to early season long runs is both progression and proper fuelling.

If you haven’t been running much over the winter, take the time to slowly build upon your long runs. It will help you avoid injury. By adding no more than 20-30% to your long run each time, it will give your body time to adapt.  For example, if you were running 7-8 kilometres a couple of times a week during the winter, then a long run of 10K is an ideal first step, followed by 12, 15, 18 and so on. It’s better to build gradually than leaping too quickly towards those 20K runs like when you were training for last autumn’s marathon. Listen to your body, rest if you are aching, and don’t forget to stretch and foam roll.

When it comes to fuelling your long runs, unless it is a specific type of training, you are always best to start with the tank topped up and a proper pre-run snack inside you. 

Three tips for fuelling:

  • Something simple
  • carb-based
  • at least 1-2 hours before your run (note: my go-to snack is either a bowl of porridge or a banana—or both).  

During your run, if you are pushing 90-minutes, then some energy during the run will help you avoid bonking. Even if you are not at race pace, there is a chance your glycogen stores will get depleted. If during a race you might eat a gel or energy bar every 30-45 minutes, then during training at a lower speed, every 45-60 minutes would work. Even just carrying a spare bar is handy should you find your energy dipping by surprise.

It may not be 25C out yet, but hydration is still important.  Over the winter, our bodies adapt to the cold, and so will work harder to control the body’s temperature in the warmer weather. Sweat that might have stayed on our skin or soaked into a base layer will now evaporate making the loss of fluids less obvious. Remember to drink before and after your run at least, and you can follow the tips from our hydration blog to better plan your hydration.

Enjoy the warm weather, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen!