If you want to avoid hitting the wall while training for 10K, half marathon or full marathon, you’ll need to nail down your mid-run fueling strategy. Whether or not you have a gel and electrolyte drink routine that you swear by, it’s always good to make sure your fueling strategy is on lock during training. Don’t test a new gel, bar or electrolyte drink for the first time mid-race. Use your long, slow, runs during training to not only log miles, but practice your nutrient timing.
Mid-Run Nutrient Needs
1. 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates
Running performance benefits have been proven with consumption rates of 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate intake per hour, for training sessions and races lasting between 1 and 2 ½ hours1. The higher your run intensity, the more grams of carbs per hour you should try to consume.
2. Not just any carbs—functional sugars
The best carbs mid-run are simple carbohydrates. Functional sugars, especially glucose and fructose are easiest to digest and absorb mid-run. If you have a stomach of steel and can handle a bit of fiber, protein or fat, you can add a little to sustain the energy release from functional sugars. Always drink water or an electrolyte drink with the functional sugars you are consuming.
3. Water and electrolytes
When beads of sweat drop off your face, you’re not just losing water, you’re also losing electrolytes. The amount of water and electrolytes you lose depends on the temperature, humidity, type of activity and your genetic predisposition. Rather than wait until you start to feel dizzy, or cramping, it’s best to hydrate consistently throughout your workout. A good rule is to sip on 1/2 cup of electrolyte-enriched water every 15 minutes. If you would like to learn more about the physiology of hydration, start here. For how to perform a sweat test and determine just how much water you should consume, read this blog post.
These are our top seven picks to fuel you mid-run:
Each Vega Sport Endurance Gel has 22 grams of carbs from the functional sugars in dates, EnergySource and sorghum malt to provide minimally processed carbs that give you both a quick burst and slow release of energy. Shoot one Endurance Gel alongside ½ cup of water every 45 minutes on your run, or mix it directly into your water bottle to sip throughout your run.
Dates are glucose-rich source of functional fuel. They are easily digestible carbohydrates that provide antioxidants to support inflammation management. Put a couple in your pocket for fuel—we’re not kidding. 2 Medjool dates have 35grams of carbs.
3. Dried Fruit
If you’re not in the mood for a date (of the edible variety), dried unsulphured apricots, goji berries, dried mango or papaya also work well.
4. Dates + Coconut Oil
If you’d like to sustain the energy from dates a little longer, slice them in half, add a teaspoon of coconut oil and wrap them in plastic wrap for your run. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil are easily digested similarly to carbs.
If your stomach can handle it, and you know your body runs better with a little bit of fiber, protein and healthy fat mid-run, cut up your favorite high-carb energy bar into bite-sized pieces. Whether you’re in the mood for chocolate or fruit, there’s as Vega Sport Energy Bar to fuel you mid-run. Each bar has 27grams of carbs.
Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator contains all essential electrolytes, as well as antioxidants. It has no calories and is appropriate for any type of activity and everyday hydration.
7. Coconut Water
You can make your own electrolyte drink by mixing coconut water with a bit of sea salt, dried dulse (seaweed) flakes and lemon, for a drink that contains all essential minerals and vitamin C.
What is your go-to mid-run fuel?
1. Ryan, Monique. Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes. 3rd Ed. Velopress, 2012.