I’m working really hard right now on fueling more effectively for long runs… It’s not something I’m great at, and I know it holds me back in races. So, it’s been a priority for me this summer + into the fall!
Three Tips for Improving Fueling:
1: Use the Interval Timer free app or another timer to ping every 5 minutes to serve as that reminder to eat/drink.
2: Put your whole pack in the fridge post-run if you have leftover drink mix. This prevents mold AND lets you use the rest of the sports drink the next day. I realized I was under-filling my pack because I didn’t want to ‘waste’ any sports drink that was leftover post-run, but that meant I didn’t drink enough calories.
3: Try a pack. If you’re not great with refilling bottles or you struggle to get them back into a run vest, a pack with a bladder is so nice for really long runs. I’d rather carry more weight and avoid refilling stops on runs and in races as much as possible, and I like knowing I can drink as much as I want without stressing on running out. The hose is also a lot easier to drink out of, IMO, compared to soft flasks.
4: Go liquid. If you have a hard time eating on the run, stop trying to. I think especially cyclists-turned-runners tend towards food-based calories with water since that’s easy to handle on the bike, but if you have gut issues or struggle with coordination (it’s not super easy to have enough food easy-to-reach in your pack for a long run!), liquid calories are a gamechanger. I like maple syrup for shorter long runs, but that’s as ‘real food’ as I get. Otherwise, it’s liquid.
What I use for fueling on the run:
Osprey Dyna 5 Pack
Maybe it’s the cyclist in me, but I just love hydration packs with bladders. I’ve been an Osprey Dyna fan for a long time, and their latest iteration is solid. (I miss the black Osprey Dyna 4 for a couple small reasons, but the latest version is very comfortable.) It’s more structured than a lot of other run packs like Nathan (which I also like), and I find it doesn’t bounce and really feels more stable.
I say it often, but this isn’t sponsored, we just buy this A LOT. Tailwind has been my go-to for a few years now, thanks to its high caloric content and electrolyte mix. The Unflavored option is still sweet, especially when you do what I do and fill 1.5 liters of water with 800-1000 calories of Tailwind. But it’s not obnoxiously sweet, and it goes down easy. I’ve never had a gut issue with it, and I definitely notice I feel a lot better when I actually use it versus when I finish with far too much left in the pack.
I love Gu’s gel flask for being able to carry maple syrup with a pack of plain water for slightly shorter runs. This flask is also nice because it’s soft so as you use the syrup, it gets smaller. It’s also nice to jam in my pack even when I’m running with Tailwind—in that case, I fill it with water so that I can take a sip of plain water if I need a break from the sweetness of the Tailwind.
Jug of Maple Syrup
Definitely buy in bulk if you decide you’re into using maple syrup for fuel, because otherwise, it gets pricey. We like to buy local when possible—relatively easy in Ontario!—but we buy in bulk just as often since we go through a lot. Pro tip: Opt for the lighter amber options when you have a choice, as they taste a bit lighter and tend to be a little more watery versus the darker grades of syrup. (Unless you prefer that!)
Always be prepared! I always keep a few of these in my run pack, just in case. I’d rather have to pause and take a couple of Pepto Bismol if I’m having some gut distress versus spend the rest of my run not able to fuel/feeling gross.