Proper refueling and hydration during a marathon can mean the difference between hitting the wall and setting a new personal record. I am shooting for the latter of those two. My coach, Kyle Kranz, recommends a 300 calorie per hour fueling plan. My goal time for Boston is under three hours. So I need to make sure I have 600 to 900 calories on hand to fuel my run. I will also need to consider whether to utilize the water stations along the course or to carry my own hydration source.
My prior three marathons I have used gels. These served me well, but I am always looking for something new and better. One constant I have found that works for me as a pre-race meal is peanut butter. I usually have a banana, bagel or rice cake, and some peanut butter. Long races or short races; these foods never leave me feeling hungry or having stomach issues. Why not carry that routine into the race itself?
I recently switched from regular skim milk with my cereal to Almond Milk. My usual breakfast is a bowl of Cheerios with honey on top and swimming in almond milk. There are fewer calories in almond milk and I have been striving to lose a few pounds for race day. I also eat almonds as snacks at work and home. I switched from peanut butter to almond butter as well – even though I still find myself with a spoon headed for the the cupboard to shovel some regular PB into my mouth.
My plan is to use those same elements during the race. I will be carrying individual serving packets of Justin’s Classic Almond Butter and Honey Stingers Ginsting. Each almond butter pack contains 200 calories. A packet of Honey Stinger has 100 calories. The Ginsting also contains B Vitamins, ginseng, and caffeine. I will carry two packets of each and consume a packet of each around the first and second hour of the race.
I have done a few trial runs with this plan and was pleasantly surprised that the almond butter was not hard to squeeze out of the packet and consume without having trouble swallowing it. I was worried I’d look like a dog with peanut butter flopping my tongue all over my mouth trying to get it down. And the honey stinger goes down easy and tastes great. Combined, they seem to give a nice boost and keep me going for the duration of the workout.
During my last marathon in Virginia Beach, I carried a water bottle. I was able to meet my family at the midway point and swap my empty bottle for a full one. That will not be an option at Boston, but I plan on carrying a single bottle. I will use Scratch Labs hydration mix in my bottle. It also contains 80 calories. My favorite is the pineapple flavor. The bottle will come in handy between water stations especially near the beginning when the crowds have not thinned out. I can just skip those and settle into my goal pace before having to slow down for hydration stops.
What kind of fueling strategies have you used in marathons? Leave your comments below.