Saturday, July 6, 2013

Running Fuel

When you're heading out for a long run that's going to last more than an hour you'll need some extra fuel to keep your workout going and avoid crashing. Here's a list of different foods/options you can use to energize yourself on the run.

1. Sports drinks - These help replenish any electrolytes lost through sweat. Use this option especially in hot humid weather since you'll lose lots of fluid through sweat. There's different brands on the market - the best thing to do is test different types out until you find which one works best for you.

2. Energy bars - These are easy to take along and consume on the go. It's best to look at the label on the bar to see the ratio of carbohydrates to protein to fat it has. You'll want a bar that's higher on the carbohydrate side because the body processes them faster than fat or protein for immediate fuel.
              My favorite bars to take with me on runs are Luna Bars, Cliff Bars, Lara Bars, Vega bars, and Elevate Me! bars.

3. Energy Chews/Gummies - These tend to be closer to the candy side so if you like sweet things these would work well for you. These type of gummies have electrolytes added to them (which you wont find in regular candy). Some also have a couple vitamins added in as well.
I've tried the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews and enjoyed the Pink Lemonade and the Cherry Blossom flavors. 

4. Candy - This can be used as fuel during a long run since it has plenty of carbs in the form of sugar. Most types of candy will be digested fast and send the energy in the form of glucose to where it's needed. This option doesn't work well for all runners since some people are more prone to getting sugar crashes.

5. Fruit - Natural food like fruit gives the body a steady stream of energy. It's often easier to use fruit as fuel before a long run since there's only so much you can carry with you (unless you bring a baggie of dates or raisins).

6. Energy Gels - These can be found at sports stores or stores specializing in running gear (and the rest that goes with it). The different brands on the market all have their own consistency - some are a bit thicker than others. It's easier to consume a gel with some water when running. When picking out some flavors at the store only get one of each individual flavor you plan to buy since you may or may not like it. If you're caffeine sensitive look carefully at the labels on the package - some flavors have caffeine added to them.

There are stories of athletes fueling themselves with different things like whole pizzas or junk food but they're on a different level than most of us. The healthier the fuel you choose the better your performance is going to be. It can take time to find the combinations that work best for you during the long run but it's worth it in the end.
Keep working towards your fitness goals, you deserve the best!

Question for the readers: What's the longest run you've gone on?

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