Nutrition Tips for Long Distance Running

Nutrition while training for long distances races is tricky, but necessary. We’ve assembled some advice from local experts to help you find a formula for success!

Jason Holroyd – Big River Racing Team Head Coach

Practice what you intend to do the night before and during the marathon on the majority of your long runs. This allows your system to get used to the food and the routine.

Everyone is a little different in what they prefer as far as consistency of their training and race day nutrition. Gels in general seem to be the easiest to carry and take down on the run. But experimenting during marathon build-up is the key.

During the marathon my suggestion is to take a gel or chew every 3-5 miles. The elites take one on average every 5k.

Stephanie Hussman – Big River Staff Member, Marathoner and Big River Training Team Coordinator

Find products you consider palatable and that work best with your system. I prefer to use more natural or simple ingredient nutrition products like Huma Gel (the first ingredient is fruit puree).

I always try to take my nutrition on my long training runs at the same time I would in my race so my body gets used to fueling. Generally I go off of time instead of mileage since my long runs are paced a little slower than my race would be.

Stay hydrated during training, which means drinking plenty of fluids (especially water) throughout the day. I like to consume an electrolyte beverage (Hammer Heed or equivalent) the day before my race as well as plenty of water.

Recovery is also important. I like Hammer Recoverite mixed into a smoothie post long run to help with rebuilding cells, restoring muscle glycogens and reducing fatigue.

Bryan Traughber – Big River Training Team Coach

The key is to practice your “night before race” routine before each long run.

I recommend drinking water every 3 miles or so (or every 25-30min) and take a Gu gel every 5 miles (or every 45-50 minutes).

If you have a hard time eating breakfast the morning of a race, I have had success eating chews (3 blocks) while waiting in the corral just before the start of a race and then 45 min later I have my first Gu.

Runners should actually practice drinking on the run to mimic an aid station in the race. Set up a cup on the trunk of your parked car or even set up a card table outside and practice grabbing the cup and drinking as you as running.

One of the best post-run or race drinks for recovery? Chocolate milk! It has both carbs and protein and is inexpensive!

Jim Helton – Big River Personal Coaching

The two most important things … practice makes perfect and don’t do anything new on race day.

Everyone’s a little different on what their stomach can tolerate regarding the combination of fluids and nutrition. Find that out in training and norm it!

Find out what’s offered on the race course and practice using those products. If those products don’t work for you, carry your own. Just make sure you have a plan and have practiced it.

I also recommend, for some, the benefit of walking through an aid station to allow you to fully drink may outweigh the “cost” of slowing down.

Post-workout nutrition should always be consumed within 30 minutes of your activity.

You’ve got this, Big River Nation! Stop by any of our locations to check out all of the nutrition offerings we have available.