Why is it such a challenge? Like a lot of things of running, it's not a perfect science. Throw in the fact that every runner has their own unique body composition, likes, dislikes, tummy toughness (or lack there of) and needs....and it can really be a game changer.
First, there's so many types of fuel to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming. There's the numerous gels (organic, flavored, unflavored, with caffeine, without caffeine, etc.). There are "chewable" options (sport beans, chomps, chews...many of these are like dense gummy snacks). There's powder electrolyte mixes you add to water and drink as you merrily run along. And, let's not forget the obvious....actual real food (fruit, raisins, peanut butter, etc.).
|too many choices...|
|No two of us will have the same fueling needs....|
Trial and error are necessary evils in figuring out what will work for you, in terms of not only convenience but also the fuel's effectiveness.. Unfortunately, this has to happen in real life...which means there will probably be a few experiments-gone-bad as you try some options. Fueling goes hand-in-hand with proper hydration to ensure everything stays in balance as you move and groove (that's an intended play on words...use your imagination). Too much fuel and not enough water (or, as I learned, too much Gatorade with too much fuel) can wreak havoc on your tummy. After 12 years of running, I have finally figured out I need a gel every 5 miles, and have to have water with it (and no Gatorade without waiting a couple miles in between the fueling stops).
|Well, that didn't work....|
And here's the reality of it...even when you think you finally have it mastered, it can still be a guessing game! A hilly course will require more effort (thus possibly needing more frequent fuel). A hot day will require more hydration than usual, and possibly more electrolytes (to counter-act the loss of sodium through excessive perspiring). Also, there are those days when you do everything right, but still hit the proverbial wall before finishing the race. The good news? None of these fueling frustrations have ever kept me from lacing up and running anyways.
I'm linking this with Meranda and Lacey and Rachel for the Friday Five 2.0. We're talking about fuel today. Please join us!!