a midrun fuel eureka!

Tonight, I was planning to post something I wrote last night about my running. But sometimes, blogging, like running, requires us to be flexible. And after my “eureka” moment tonight, I had to change my post…

A little background: Pretty much ever since I started running, I’ve used sports drinks as my fuel. Of course, in the very beginning (up to 5k or 10k), I didn’t need any special fuels beyond plenty of fruits and veggies. But when I started running longer distances, I would obediently fill my water bottle with sports drink (first Powerade, then a few months ago I switched to Gatorade) and take that with me on my run. Sometimes I would stop at a convenience store and buy a bottle of Gatorade instead of making my own at home. But basically it was just always sports drinks.

Now I have my reasons for this. I’m very sensitive to the texture of my foods, so I’m kinda apprehensive about gels. Not to mention, gels tend to be kinda pricy ($2-3 or more per gel pack), whereas I can buy Gatorade powder for $2.99 and that lasts me a month or two. I am a bit cheap to begin with, but I also don’t have a ton of money and I don’t want to throw away lots of money on a gel that might taste icky anyway.

Tonight, I was catching up on some of my feeds when I came across this post from Another Mother Runner. She listed a few thoughts on managing the mental side of long runs (always a challenge for me!), and I stopped short when I read this:

Fuel properly. This might seem like a physical detail, but when your brain screams, “Stop!” “Slow down!” “This hurts!” “Walk, you moron!”  what it’s really telling you is, “I’m starved of glycogen, the stuff that makes me work.” By ingesting about 100 sugary calories every 45 minutes or so, your brain will stay on a more even, rational keel. On my 17-miler, I sucked down a gel at Miles 4, 8, 12, and even 15: It was a gradual, but steady, climb from Mile 14 to 16, and I wanted to stay strong to the finish.

Somehow this struck a chord. Hmm, wait a minute! How many calories am I taking in on my runs?

I ran into my kitchen and checked the nutrition label on my jar of Gatorade powder. Eureka! I’ve only been taking in 75-100 calories per hour- not enough! Maybe that’s why I’ve been struggling more towards the end of my long runs!

I have only six weeks before my half marathon, and thus only six weeks to figure out my midrun fuel. This should be interesting…