3 Fueling Tips for Endurance Events

Marathon and half-marathon events are becoming more popular and are one of the fastest growing events in the USA. Oklahoma City hosts a premier event in April. The OKC Memorial Marathon was voted one of the 12 must-run marathons in the world by Runner’s World magazine. If you have never attended this event, I want to encourage you to take a trip to downtown OKC on April 26. 

The following tips mainly apply to endurance events but are also applicable for routine workouts. These are general guidelines for hydration and fueling.

TIP #1

Do not drink too much water. One of the worst problems that can occur in an endurance event is hyponatremia (low sodium). This can have catastrophic consequences. It occurs when a runner drinks too much water and not enough electrolytes. (See tip #2.)

Your body can only absorb about 20–25 ounces of fluid an hour when you are exercising. If you drink too much, it can cause nausea, bloating, diarrhea, and other problems. Remember the 20–25 ounce rule. This is about the size of an average water bottle.

TIP #2

Replenish your electrolytes with a full spectrum, balanced, rapidly assimilated source. Electrolytes are the minerals your body needs to help with muscle contraction and a variety of other biological functions. A good source should contain adequate supplies of sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Salt tablets only provide sodium and chloride. Your body needs much more than just salt.

I use a product from Hammer Nutrition called Endurolytes. It has the full spectrum of electrolytes that you will need during your event. If you sweat heavily, these can keep you from cramping. They also have a drink that I prefer called Heed. I like it better than other commercial products because of the low sugar content and Heed uses maltodextrin as its energy source. This is easy on your digestive tract and is rapidly absorbed.

TIP #3

Fuel your body with an appropriate energy source.  Do not use candy bars to fuel your body during an endurance event. I am always amazed at how many people I see eating chocolate or a Snickers bar for fuel. It is a great way to crash or bonk. Look for a fuel that has a complex carbohydrate as its main energy source. Many runners and bikers will use gel packs. I have found them to be convenient and easy on the gut.

You can overdo this as well. You should try to limit your caloric consumption to about 150–200 calories an hour while exercising. If you consume more than this, it can lead to GI distress and your performance can be hampered. Most athletes can only absorb around 150–200 calories an hour while exercising.

 BONUS TIP

Try not to eat a meal before an event unless you have about 3 hours to digest it before the start. If you do not have enough time for a meal before the event, try consuming low fiber complex carbohydrates. I prefer eating a banana or using a gel pack. The idea is to maximize the glycogen in your liver.

Check out the OKC Memorial Marathon. It is a spectacular event. It is not too late to get a team together and run the course.

Wishing you an amazing life.