You know you have options for fueling your runs, right?
There’s no rule that says that you have to use some pre-packaged, highly processed, and over-priced option, just because that’s what most runners use.
On one hand, the discussion about fueling options for runners is pretty straight forward.
Our bodies need fuel to function. Pretty straight forward, yes?
When we are pushing ourselves during a run or a race, we are burning through our fuel reserves a little quicker than when we are just lazing around the house.
Depending on the intensity and duration of your run, some supplemental fueling may be required.
Still pretty straight forward, yes?
Now this is where things start to get a little tricky.
With all the fueling options that are available to runners, which one is best for you?
That right there is the million-dollar question…
No Shortage of Fueling Options
Gels. Chews. Sports drinks.
If you’ve ever been to your local running store, you know it’s no exaggeration to say that there are just about as many different fueling options available for purchase as there are different styles of running shoes!
That fact alone is very telling.
To me, it pretty clearly says that there is no “best” option when it comes to fueling for runners.
If there was a clear cut best, why would there literally be dozens (hundreds?) of nearly identical options available at every running store in the world?
There wouldn’t be.
If, as an example, gels were clearly the best form of mid-run fuel then gels would be pretty much the only option available for sale.
Do What Works Best for You
Can we agree that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” best option for taking in calories during a run?
Since that is pretty clearly the case, why then do some runners choke down gels during a run or race when other options are readily available and objectively just as effective?
If you’re going to rely on pre-packaged and highly-processed mid-run fuel sources, you might as well try to find some fueling options that are at least decent to take down.
Look, if you can honestly say that you like gels then keep on keeping on.
But if you’re like me and your gag reflex starts kicking in at the mere thought of trying to swallow a glob of high-viscosity carbohydrates, please recognize that there are a multitude of different fueling options available to you.
Think Outside the Box?
You know you don’t have to rely on the pre-packaged and highly processed fueling options to get you through your runs though, right?
Sure, the crap you get from the running store is convenient. I can’t really argue with that.
But are there better, albeit less convenient, options available?
I’d definitely argue that the answer to that question is yes.
Examples of such fueling options? Here are three.
Become Fat Adapted
The beauty of being a fat-adapted endurance athlete?
Simple, you basically don’t have to fuel during most races.
And if you do decide to take in some simple sugars along the way, a little bit of sugar goes a long way!
Which means, you don’t have to worry about fueling nearly as frequently or in the quantity that non-fat adapted runners do.
And since most GI distress during a run comes from what you’re putting in immediately before/during your run or race, this can be beneficial on multiple fronts.
So not only are fat-adapted runners almost guaranteed to not bonk during a race, but they are also much less likely to need to make an emergency stop at a porta-potty (or behind a tree) along the way.
To me, that’s the best of both worlds right there!
(And full disclosure, in case you’re unaware, I am whole-heartedly a fan of the fat-adapted option.)
Real Food for Fuel
Whenever possible, I don’t think you can go wrong with real food.
What is real food? Put simply, it’s food that is as minimally processed as possible.
In the context of fueling options for runners, I feel like real food is quite a dichotomy.
For me, there are few things that give me a boost mid-run like a piece of fresh fruit.
Some combination of the natural sugars and the vitamins/minerals that are in the fruit absolutely does it for me.
However, fresh fruit is more than slightly inconvenient to carry with you for the first portion of your run.
I mean, an orange doesn’t exactly fit into your pocket quite like a gel, you know what I’m saying?
So while I am absolutely pro-real food as a viable fuel source, there are logistical issues that must be dealt with if you’re going to take in an orange, banana, or other type of fruit mid-run.
Make Your Own Mush
If you’re keen to try to rely on real food as much as possible but less than thrilled with the idea of carrying around a bunch of fruit during your runs, then making your own mush is a possible option.
Basically, you get to fire up your blender and make your own smoothie/real food puree that you take with you to consume during your run/race.
And the best part of this option? You are in total control of the flavors!
Whatever flavor/textures you like that work together? Put them in the blender and rock and roll!
Then just grab some reusable pouches from Amazon, load one up, stick it in a pocket, and you’re good to go!
What is Your Go To Fuel Source for a Run?
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