Fueling for the Long Haul

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Problem with waking up at 5:30 to go to 6:30 yoga class:  I’m exhausted. So exhausted that I finally succumbed to a mid-work day nap.  And it was good.


When I woke up, I was a little surprised that my stomach was growling.  I had eaten cherries right before crashing:


Very groggily, I stumbled into the kitchen and went for an oldie but goodie:  a sandwich, a fruit, and a vegetable.  Check, check, check off those food groups. 😉



I had a veggie burger on toast with spinach + ketchup:




And a vegetable salad:


Fueling for the Long Haul


Since I announced that I am going to train for my second marathon, I’ve received a few comments and e-mails on how to fuel for long-distance running.


It’s true.  When you run double digits, you need to eat a lot to recover, refuel, and maintain your weight in the process.  Like the time I ran 22.0 miles and ate a loaf of French bread + cream cheese on the hood of my car before even driving home.  Yes.  I ate the entire loaf.


As I discussed in this post – “Post-Marathon Body” – I lost a few pounds while training for the marathon (but nothing significant).   I also lost definition, as you can see in the before and after pictures; you can’t run yourself tone!  This is why I plan to get serious about cross training the second time around.


However, when I wrote that post (two days after the marathon), I hadn’t weighed myself for about two weeks.  When I did finally step on the scale (I hate to weigh myself), I had gained about four pounds over my starting weight during the taper period. 


This means that I fueled properly during training, but I found it extremely difficult to step down my eating (no more entire French loaves for a snack!) and ended up overeating in the two weeks proceeding the marathon.  Also, I was still pretty hunger because I find it takes my body a few days to ‘catch up’ to my current needs once I stop intense cardio.  I was also a little nervous and tend to eat more when I’m emotional.


So – the question is – how do you make sure you’re eating enough without overeating and without driving yourself crazy?  And not driving yourself crazy really is the big goal, isn’t it?  You’re training for a half or full marathon; the running and pride should come way before the scale.  Always.


Here’s what I do:


  • Learn to listen to hunger cues on daily basis <—this assumes you have a good history with food and hunger.  If you have or have had an eating disorder, it might be more difficult to listen to hunger cues accurately.  When I am hungry, I eat. If I finish a meal and I feel hungry shortly afterwards, I have a snack.  I’m talking about real hunger, not “I’m bored” or “That brownie looks tasty.”   If I’m not hungry and it’s not mealtime, I don’t eat.


  • Strive to eat a slightly larger meal + snack following a moderately long run.  For example, if I run 8.0 miles, I’ll have extra peanut butter on my sandwich at lunch and also drink a Green Monster.  Dinner might include an extra piece of toast.


  • Refuel during my moderate or long runs.  This is very important!  When I run 7.0 or 8.0 miles or more, I always take in calories in some way:  Gatorade, Gu, jelly beans, etc.  The glucose is important for your muscular processes and will prevent physical and emotional burnout.  I took in about 500 calories during the actual Disney marathon.


  • Calorie count on long run days.  A women who is my height and weight burns about 80 calories per mile of running.  If I run a half marathon (13.1 miles), I burn just over 1,000 calories.  That’s a huge deficit and can be difficult to make up when you’re eating whole, natural foods, especially voluminous foods like veggies and fruits, which take up space in your tummy.  So, I typically calorie count on long run days to ensure I’m getting enough and not overeating, either.  On long run days for marathon training, I easily take in 2,800 to 3,800 calories in a day.


  • Remember it balances out in the end.  If I undereat on a long run day, I don’t really stress out about it (and certainly don’t force food down my throat to make some calorie goal).  Odds are that I’ll go out to dinner and want a fancy dessert the next day.  Same theory applies to a day or two of overeating.


  • Eat quality calories.  This is the HUGE one and the primary reason I believe a lot of people gain weight while long distance training.  It’s really tempting to eat back your calories in pizza, ice cream, and beer, but those foods don’t have the nourishment of a veggie, brown rice, and tofu stir-fry.  I aim for a variety of protein, whole carbs, healthy fats, and veggies and fruits.  Of course you should use training as a fun reason to get a big treat after long runs, but don’t go overboard everyday.  


  • Remember why It’s Important to pay attention.  I definitely do not give this much thought to calories and energy intake on a daily basis.  I just try to eat a variety of foods and listen to hunger cues.  However, it’s important to pay attention to calories during training because underfueling can led to injuries and make it difficult for your muscles to repair themselves.


Of course, I’m not a registered dietician, but this is just what work for me in my training.  :)  Do what works for YOU or what a professional advises.


How do you approach eating when training for an endurance event?  Do you think running jacks up your hunger more than other sports?  What’s your favorite post-long workout meal?  Are you an RD who can offer professional input on this subject?



  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin July 26, 2010, 3:34 pm

    My longest run to date has been 10 miles, so I haven’t had to do nearly as much refueling as you! I love the Sports Beans and typically eat those any time I’m going 5+ miles because that takes me roughly 50 minutes and I find I need to get some calories after 45 minutes of running. I have a half coming up in September so I’ll be curious to see others responses on refueling for longer runs! I definitely think running jacks up my hunger a lot more than biking, but pretty comparably to swimming. Definitely not an RD! 🙂

  • Rachel July 26, 2010, 3:40 pm

    I liked your tips about keeping an eye on your calorie intake. I do NOT have a good history with food and hunger. Eating is almost entirely emotional to me (I eat if I am bored, sad, happy, etc.), or I eat because its “meal time” regardless of whether I am hungry or not.

    I am about to start therapy for disordered eating (after it being recommended to me after voicing my concerns to several different parties like my primary physician and my parents) and can see how things could get really messed up during long distance training and refueling properly.

    Hopefully once I get myself back together thanks to therapy, I can tackle the long distances! (This is the first place I’m even sharing that I’m finally headed to therapy. Not ready to post it all over my own blog yet!)

  • Tami July 26, 2010, 3:42 pm

    my eating is delayed for a day after a long day of exercising (whether running or biking) so sometimes I forget about eating right even though it’s the next day.

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) July 26, 2010, 3:42 pm

    I don’t really know what to say that would be medically correct; however, I really do feel like you did a good job of eating a balanced and healthy amount of food when you were training before!

  • Theodora @ Losing Weight in the City July 26, 2010, 3:44 pm

    Ah! I’m training for my first marathon, and I’m DEFINITELY having a hard time figuring out how much to eat. I feel like I’m always either ravenous or absolutely stuffed.

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday July 26, 2010, 3:45 pm

    Great info!

    I can easily eat an entire loaf of bread on my own. I sometimes do. I usually bake my own bread, so a warm loaf out of the oven is pretty irresistible.

  • Amber July 26, 2010, 3:46 pm

    I’ve started counting calories again while training for my first marathon (I counted calories 2 years ago to help me lose weight) I find that counting calories helps me make sure I don’t overeat on non-running/short running days and that I eat enough on long run days!

    I’m just now getting to the point where I’m getting the “marathon hunger”. Yesterday I ran 14 miles and I woke up at 4:30 AM this morning STARVING. I could not fall back asleep my stomach was rumbling so hard so I ate a Clif bar and then went back to sleep for 2 hours!!! So listening to your body is definitely important!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs July 26, 2010, 3:48 pm

    Suuuuch a good post! I’m marathon training and I struggle to know how much to eat too – do I eat more on hard running days and less on days off, or the same each day? Ie 2000 cals one day and 3000 the next, or 2500 both? I find it difficult too cos I don’t always trust/know my hunger cues, or what is a ‘proper’ portion (thankyooou ED! GRR.) This kinda post really helps though!! 🙂

  • Maura July 26, 2010, 3:49 pm

    When I’m training for a marathon or a rac, I often find that I gain a few pounds. This is not because of what I’m consuming, but rather because I am building muscle.

  • sarah (this is it) July 26, 2010, 3:52 pm

    ahhh just the right advice for me right now! sometimes you have great timing in your posts!

  • elaine! July 26, 2010, 3:56 pm

    Did my longest run to date on Sunday (8.3 miles, which takes me about an hour and forty-five minutes) and took Powerade instead of water for the first time. H-U-G-E difference! My last few runs I’ve had trouble keeping my pace up after even 2-3 miles, but on the 8-miler, having a sports drink kept my legs feeling great.

    I would love to lose weight training for my half and full marathon… but I’d rather maintain than have bad training runs. Consistently bad runs are motivation killers.

    I recently read that men respond to endurance exercise with decreased appetite; women respond with increased appetite. (Your body wants to maintain body fat for fertility purposes.) So I’m not even sure appetite is a good indicator for women marathonners. I’m currently struggling with wondering if I should just suck it up and realize I’m going to gain a few pounds instead of losing them while I’m training this much.

  • Emilie July 26, 2010, 4:01 pm

    I second that! excellent timing on this post. My problem is that I could stand to lose 5 more pounds but I’m training for a half-marathon. How do you cut cals, lose weight, but ensure you have enough fuel?

    • Caitlin July 26, 2010, 4:03 pm

      Probably counting would help you here. I would aim to create a deficit of 250 calories a day (through running, not by eating less). So if I typically needed 2000 calories a day to maintain, ran 800 calories off, I would eat only 2,550 calories total.

      A pound = 3,500 calories so 250 less a day would be you lose half a pound a week, or 5 pounds over the course of a training plan. 🙂

      • JenRD July 26, 2010, 4:09 pm

        Although I don’t specialize in sports nutrition, in my experience, it is very difficult to lose weight while training for an intense sport, such as a half-marathon. Any calories you deprive your body will cause it to go into starvation mode, and store any extra calories as fat, for reserve fuel. That is also why it is difficult to tone up while training for an endurance sport–your body needs quick sources of calories and glycogen (storage carbs) making it tough to build muscle.

  • Nicole, RD July 26, 2010, 4:04 pm

    Congrats on deciding to run another marathon! They are intense! I don’t remember my appetite increasing at all, and yet, I didn’t lose weight…even though I needed to! When I’m exercising that much, I almost lose my appetite. It’s a lot of Gatorade for me!

  • Megan July 26, 2010, 4:05 pm

    I’ve actually found that running has less of an impact on my appetite. Out with injury on an off for over the last 6 months, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight, even though I was able to cross-train (except when the big cast was on!). I found things like Spinning and weight training made me way more hungry and drove me to eat like I was burning calories like I did running!

  • Madeline @ greensandjeans July 26, 2010, 4:05 pm

    I’m currently training for a marathon and I’ve found that with the heat I have zero appetite! I’ve stared to be sneakier about how I get in extra calories, like extra peanut butter or a larger serving of oats. I think staying hydrated has really been my biggest task!

  • Kelly July 26, 2010, 4:05 pm

    I’ve only ran halves so I can’t speak for fueling for a full marathon. I just try to pay attention to my hunger cues and don’t eat a lot at once, even if I did just run over 10 miles. If I don’t eat enough my stomach will be rumbling again soon, so I know I need to eat some more. My hunger cues get all mixed up when I eat beyond fullness so I try not to further confused them.

  • JenRD July 26, 2010, 4:05 pm

    It sounds like you have a really balanced take on eating while training. I am an RD, but I do not specialize in sports nutrition, and don’t have in-depth knowledge on the subject. I would highly recommend reading a Nancy Clark book, however–she is the RD sports nutrition guru. Her “Food Guide for Marathoners” might interest you.

  • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story July 26, 2010, 4:08 pm

    That is great advice! I find I’m hungrier on longer run days.

  • Lindsay @ Summit Sandwiches July 26, 2010, 4:09 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m training for my first marathon right now, and I’m worried about how I’m going to handle eating once my long run mileage hits the teens (which is in…oh….about a week!). These tips are awesome! I really like the idea of calorie counting for the day of your long run since I’m worried about not eating enough and fueling my body properly. For whatever reason, long runs tend to dampen my appetite the day of the run(weird, I know…and then I get really hungry the day afterward).

  • Laura@keepinglimandgettingstylish July 26, 2010, 4:14 pm

    Thanks for such an informative post! I’m training for my first half and I’m trying to balance fueling with my training. This has been really helpful! x

  • kyla July 26, 2010, 4:14 pm

    This is perfect! I’m in the middle of training right now and I definitely have tried to count my calories during training. I always feel a little guilty if I overeat a day or two but I have to remind myself it all balances.

  • Bree July 26, 2010, 4:15 pm

    Brendan Brazier really got me thinking when he said that 15-60 min after working out you should have something that is easy to digest – like a green monster or other liquid smoothie. If you eat stuff that’s hard to digest, it takes the focus away from recovering and puts it on digestion so your body doesn’t heal as well. He says LATER is the time to have protein. He also mentioned that a lot of people like to have a “treat” after a particularly long workout, but since you need extra nutrition to recover, that’s actually the worst thing you can eat on a day you do a long or intense run. I love his books! 🙂

  • Becky July 26, 2010, 4:20 pm

    Thank you, thank you for this post! Marathon training is definitely presenting fueling challenges. I don’t have a problem eating when I’m hungry, but sometimes I just can’t believe that my body still wants more! I feel like I could just keep eating…and I’m not running 18-20 milers yet. I feel like some days I don’t eat enough, but then I overcompensate on other days. My body also seems to have a delayed reaction to workouts and gets hungry the next day. Tricky stuff! I appreciate your insight and info.

  • Evan Thomas July 26, 2010, 4:27 pm

    I ran 14 miles today and I’ve been starving ever since. Just ate a banana. Back to the kitchen to throw away the peel and snag some chocolate

  • Gavi July 26, 2010, 4:27 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! I am about to begin training for my first half marathon, and I appreciate any tips about eating. I am definitely trying to maintain my weight, but I notice that long runs tuns to make me either ravenous or not hungry for days. As you say, it all evens out in the end…Still, I try to drink lots of smoothies with fresh fruit and protein (fat free Greek yogurt, protein powder, egg whites), and I do calorie count on long run days. I look forward to reading more and following you on your next marathon training journey!

  • Deb July 26, 2010, 4:30 pm

    Even if you don’t like calorie counting, it is important to realize how much energy you are expending and how to fuel yourself properly. Eating when you feel hungry and eating a variety of foods is using healthy common sense.

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans July 26, 2010, 4:34 pm

    I try my best to listen to hunger and eat wholesome food during training. I think our bodies will tell us what they need if we learn to listen. I also try to get more protein to assist my muscles when they are repairing after a hard or long workout.

  • Meagan July 26, 2010, 4:37 pm

    Thanks soo much for the tips Caitlin! I am starting exercise for the first time in almost a year (due to my ED recovery I was not allowed to exercise) and these tips are very helpful. Obviously I won’t be starting out with multi-mile runs, but I am glad I know there is a balanced way to exercise and eat in order to maintain weight (rather than loosing, which was ALWAYS my goal during my ED days). Thanks again!

  • Stacey @ Tipping the (Kitchen!) Scales July 26, 2010, 4:39 pm

    I think listeing to hunger is really important and is something that I am trying to learn to do more often. These are good tips and it’s definitely better to refuel with quality calories.

  • Alyssa @ bride to be fit July 26, 2010, 4:45 pm

    On the day of a long run, I don’t find any change in my hunger, but the days following a long run, I’m a hungry beast!! It takes a few days for me to get back to normal hunger levels.

  • Katy @MonsterProof July 26, 2010, 4:46 pm

    These are great tips to learn! My longest run to date was only 7 miles, but about to start training, so I’m taking note!

    I was a competitive swimmer, and certainly felt the same ravenous hunger after long swims, though, I crave different foods. For some unknown reason, the thing I want the MOST after leaving a pool is a tuna fish sandwich. Some weird water connection there? I don’t ever want tuna after running!

  • Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] July 26, 2010, 4:47 pm

    That bread looks GOOD!

  • Tina July 26, 2010, 4:51 pm

    I love that statement that pride and the run take precedence over the scale. I think too many people get caught up in a number that doesn’t mean anything. Besides…what sounds cooler? To be able to say I ran a marathon or I weigh X amount?

    • AdiFey July 27, 2010, 12:49 am

      I really liked that too. Loosing weight isn’t even worth it when your body breaks down and performance drops. I believe that healthy is when you can get the most out of life, not when the scale is low.
      The marathon definitely sounds cooler 😉

  • Jaya July 26, 2010, 5:00 pm

    I agree with a lot of what other people have said. I have ran a few half marathons, but I’ve also been a competitive athlete for a long time and there are 3-4 months a year when I train 2x per day, so I appreciate the need for a food strategy that works. I think something that can’t be left out of this conversation is the importance of maintaining your strength. I know you talked about maintaining muscle, but one of the things that has really helped me improve my performance and reduce injury is retaining some weight training during the running season. I don’t think that it’s necessary (or realistic) to expect to increase your numbers in the gym while you are training for a marathon, but keeping a skeleton of your off-season strength routine never hurts. Basic stuff like clamshells/glute activation/band work and core training for prehab before runs can also go a long way in keeping your SI joints happy and healthy – and most of the scholarly literature speaks to this.
    Something I would recommend is checking out a book called “Slow Burn” by Stuart Mittleman. He is an ultra runner with a really different approach to endurance nutrition. I know that most sports nutrition pushes the quick sugars route to maintaining energy during the race, but he stands by a really high fat diet that, through slowed gastric emptying, promotes a more sustainable kind of fueling. I find that a combination of these approaches works great for me, and that it’s always worth questioning conventional wisdom. I am not an RD or licensed health/sports practitioner, but there is tons of great material out there to support and refute my comment. It’s all about finding your own way. Sorry for long comment!

    • Caitlin July 26, 2010, 10:12 pm

      Thanks for this informative comment!!

  • Catherine July 26, 2010, 5:03 pm

    What great tips! I tend to listen to my hunger cues as well, but have been having a really hard time with training for my half marathon. I’ve never done this much mileage, let alone mileage where you need to fuel during! haha Thanks for the help! 🙂

  • Carly (Swim, Run, Om) July 26, 2010, 5:21 pm

    This post came at a perfect time for me … I’m training for my first marathon, and I have been so confused on this topic.

  • Natalie July 26, 2010, 5:22 pm

    Thanks for the tips 🙂 I Have been wondering about some of this. I do feel like running makes me more hungry than strength training or some other forms of cardio. I always always crave carbs after a run!

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete July 26, 2010, 5:26 pm

    I actually gained weight during my marathon training, but I was also cycling a lot. My butt and my thighs grew into huge muscular masses (thighs prob from cycling, and butt from the running –> HILLS!) My clothes felt a little loser around my waist, but other than that, I felt like my legs were a little tighter (hello cycling). I really think it helped with what you were talking about concerning toning up during marathon training.

    I’m the same as you, if I’m running more than 7-8 miles, I definitely refuel with Clif Bloks (3 for the first 7 or 8 miles starting 35 min in, then 1 every 15-20 min after that. I can’t handle goo. It upsets my stomach too much. I’m not a dietician, but that has worked for me. Then, post run, it is either a green monster or some sort of fruit protein shake. If I don’t have access to that, chocolate milk it is. Shakes are easier for your body to digest (faster) than solid food after working out like that, and that is why it is better for you than solid foods at that time.

    Hunger cues are listened to at all times! You are so right about fueling the body with nutrient dense foods than junk. You will notice a different in your running once you start eating a cleaner diet for sure!

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine July 26, 2010, 5:37 pm

    During my half-marathon, I always refueled with a HUGE bowl of oatmeal…fruit, nut butter, protein powder, flax + chia, the works!! I found that it’s easier to refuel well if you start with one huge meal, and then add a little to the rest of them!

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) July 26, 2010, 6:07 pm

    Caitlin – these are some fantastic tips! I dont normally get hungry on the day of my longer races / runs – but the day after – WHOA!!!!

  • holly @ couchpotatoathlete.wordpress.com July 26, 2010, 6:20 pm

    I also gained weight when I trained for my marathon — just like you, during the taper period I kept eating large amounts but wasn’t running enough. I agree with you about planning more food for after a long run and having fuel DURING the run. That makes a big difference for me, whether I stop and eat 1/2 a banana or sport beans during a run really helps me stay satisfied through the day because I’m not starving when I get home and eat the whole house.

    I love to have a big protein smoothie after a long run and then a few hours later I’ll have eggs and toast. I don’t know why — comfort food? Filling meal? Either way, I look forward to both while I am running a long run (for me that is 7 + miles)

  • Anya @ Fitness & Sunshine July 26, 2010, 6:32 pm

    I just started running a bit ago and it’s making me hungrier so far! 🙂

  • Laura T. July 26, 2010, 6:42 pm

    i dont usually choose running as my form of cardio, but i find that whenever i have a killer strength session, my metabolism is RAGING for the next day or so…no matter what i eat never seems to fill the void and im constantly hungry!

  • tanyasDaily ProductViews July 26, 2010, 6:55 pm

    Great Advice!

  • Lauren @ The Raw Cure July 26, 2010, 7:10 pm

    “If I’m not hungry and it’s not mealtime, I don’t eat.”

    I wish it was that easy for me! I am really battling my emotional eating habits. I have gotten somewhat better, but some days I just can’t handle it!

    • Caitlin July 26, 2010, 10:15 pm

      well, i mean – i’m not perfect 🙂 but i try.

      walks are a great alternative to emotional eating!!! it feels so much better to get out of the house and listen to my ipod than it does to eat something that will make me sick to my stomach later.

  • Stacey@http://stacey-healthylife.blogspot.com/ July 26, 2010, 7:15 pm

    Love veggie burger sandwich’s.

  • Michelle July 26, 2010, 7:16 pm

    I did not waver one pound when marathon training, however, I gained some when I quit! I think I got used to all the food :S Eating to properly fuel yourself is a hard lesson to learn, but necessary.

  • Sarah July 26, 2010, 7:23 pm

    I’ve been thinking about doing my first half marathon in a couple of years, so your tips and stories come at a great time. Thank you!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit July 26, 2010, 7:27 pm

    Great post! I’m starting training for my first 1/2 marathon and need to start thinking about these things 😉

  • Morgan July 26, 2010, 7:31 pm

    this post is so informative! so many great ideas.

    when i ran my first marathon i didn’t count calories unless i was running more than 6 miles. anything lower and i didn’t feel like it effected my appetite enough for me to drastically under eat or over eat. i started getting into hot water near the end of my training when i would get anxious or worried thinking about race day and would eat more to calm my nerves. i only gained about 2 or 3 lbs which went away in my reverse taper. i have to say, every time i ramp up my miles, my waist gets smaller but my thighs and butt get big. like, can’t fit into jeans big. not going to lie, it’s a little annoying! how do those pros keep so svelte?!

  • Heather July 26, 2010, 7:32 pm

    i have a hard time not wanting to eat junk after a long run bc I feellike I “earned” it. it’s hard!

  • Amelia July 26, 2010, 7:39 pm

    I am training for my second marathon as well and I am trying to work better on fueling this time around. I definitely had a problem with rewarding myself and refueling with junk like pizza. No problem with pizza once in a while, but it was my go to meal. I think planning is such a big part of refueling right. If I have the right foods in the house and pre-prepared, there is not the temptation to order takeout.

    Also, Gu/gels are amazing. I think I run long distance just so I can eat those. 🙂

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) July 26, 2010, 8:12 pm

    I notice my appetite grows when I increase mileage but I just add more of what I can eat. I have food problems so I can’t add stuff that I used to when I could eat anything.

  • Allie July 26, 2010, 8:17 pm

    thank you- this has great information!

  • Cyndi Eggers July 26, 2010, 8:18 pm

    Not sure if anyone mentioned in the above posts,but sleep and rest are just as important as fueling and often can be confused with hunger.

    • Jaya July 26, 2010, 9:23 pm

      That is such a great point…sometimes major fluctuations in appetite can be a sign of CNS fatigue.

    • Caitlin July 26, 2010, 10:10 pm

      Great points and definitely something worth mentioning!!!! I sleep SOOOOOOOOOOOO much during training.

  • Camille July 26, 2010, 8:26 pm

    When I’m training for long distances, I learn to listen to my hunger cues a bit better. I also find myself eating more snacks. Snacks are key!

  • Caitlyn July 26, 2010, 8:34 pm

    I really liked this post. I have just started running double digits in preparation for a 1/2 marathon and am still learning how to fuel properly (both during the run and throughout the day). This was really helpful!! Thanks!

  • bee @ in ten days July 26, 2010, 8:48 pm

    um, i could eat a whole loaf of french bread in one sitting. no marathon training required!

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter July 26, 2010, 9:20 pm

    Great tips! I get super dizzy after runs so I drink coconut water even if its a super fast 1 or 2 miler in hot weather. I couldn’t imagine running 5 or 6 miles with out it.

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous July 26, 2010, 9:47 pm

    An entire loaf of bread? You ARE my hero! Haha. I need to be better about listening to my hunger cues. I’m more of a “that looks tasty” eater 🙂

  • Liza July 26, 2010, 9:48 pm

    Hi Caitlyn! Thank you so much for this post– it was soooo helpful! I signed up for my first half marathon. It’s no marathon, but I’ve definitely been wondering about my double digit training runs and how to fuel and recover– thanks!

  • Claire July 26, 2010, 10:33 pm

    having done a fair amount of running, including full and half marathons, i have to disagree with some of what you said. first of all, eating an entire loaf of bread post-long run is not exactly a sufficient way to refuel. sure, you’re taking in plenty of calories but by limiting yourself to just carbs you’re missing out on essential protein, vitamins and minerals necessary for muscle repair and re-establishing balance of electrolytes. it might be fun to feel like you can eat that entire loaf of bread and it probably tasted good but there are much more helpful ways to refuel. also, it’s somewhat of a misconception that you need to refuel calorically during a 7-8 mile run. if you’re entering into a run of that distance with proper nourishment, your body is not going to get depleted of resources in that short of a period of time. yes, fluids are likely necessary but gels and chews are not. it’s more for the mental impact than the physical need at that point. sorry, it just bothers me that you dispense all of this “advice” that people seem to cling to when it’s kind of misleading.

    • Caitlin July 26, 2010, 10:36 pm

      So interesting how we have different needs for refueling!

      Well, just because once I could eat an entire loaf of bread didn’t mean I did that regularly. As I said, most of the time I try to “Eat quality calories.” It’s a whole bullet point on the list 🙂

      And I really cannot run without intaking fuel for a 7.0 to 8.0 miles! I get very weak and hungry, and I always drink water during runs.

      Different strokes for different folks. As I said, this is just what works for me!

  • Claire July 26, 2010, 10:52 pm

    i do see your point about doing what works best for YOU but there is also a substantial body of science that explains the physiological needs for most people and that does support the notion that your body does not become so depleted after a 7 mile run that one would require mid-workout replenishment.

  • Lizzy July 27, 2010, 12:06 am

    this is the best post. i always find it hard to figure out what i want to eat before a run. like for instance this weekend on my training plan i have 12 miles to do. what would you eat before a run of this size??

    • Caitlin July 27, 2010, 9:01 am

      I would definitely eat a full normal breakfast and give myself enough time to digest the whole thing. you want to start preparing yourself to eat full breakfasts before long runs because you will need to do that before the race. it’s a good idea to practice with the same meal over and over again so you can make sure it won’t cause tummy troubles. i usually have a PB sandwich and fruit.

  • emma-kate July 27, 2010, 2:58 am

    I always wake up starving in the middle of the night after a long run that morning, so annoying. So I guess I should be eating more during the day to prevent that happening, but I feel like I am already eating constantly after a long run. I’ll try the calorie counting though, to make sure I’m getting enough calories on long run days – thank you for the tip 🙂

    • Caitlin July 27, 2010, 9:00 am

      if you’re waking up hungry, you definitely need to eat more! trying eating more calorie-dense things, like protein smoothies with PB.

  • Kaci July 27, 2010, 6:54 am

    Great tips!! Thanks! I find that I’m ravenous after a long run and I really have to MAKE myself not eat chips and crap. Thanks so much for the tips! =)

  • Alyssa July 27, 2010, 8:10 am

    Thanks so much for this post! I am training for my first marathon and will be doing my longest run to date pretty soon, as well as trying out gels/goos for the first time! I am really working on focusing on using food as fuel for running and not getting excited because I can eat a huge dessert later that night. Your point about quality calories with a few treats mixed in was right on. I think I am going to be rereading this post a lot during training!

  • Cyndi July 27, 2010, 11:27 am

    This post came at the perfect time. I’m in the middle of training for a half marathon in October and I’ve had trouble figuring out at what point to start fueling in my runs. I think my best bet is just to grab a bunch of different things and rotate them until I find something I like.

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople July 27, 2010, 1:23 pm

    Any high-intensity cardio kicks my hunger into high gear. I still sometimes have problems remembering to fuel with good foods and not just eat whatever sounds good at the time.

  • Britt July 28, 2010, 12:42 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I just signed up for my 2nd half and am planning on running my first marathon this coming spring (ways away I know). When I ran my first half I was limited to cafeteria food and ended up losing too much weight because I only ate what looked healthy there-which wasn’t much lol.
    I’m already getting nervous about fueling during my training. I basically want to maintain and I’m not going to lie that picture of you eating an entire loaf of bread scared me…I can’t imagine eating that much…ever lol
    I’ve been scouring the web for ideas as how to figure how much & what I need. So thanks for the post! You’ve turned me into a regular reader 🙂

    • caitlin July 28, 2010, 12:43 pm

      Wahoo! Welcome to HTP!

  • Alice August 11, 2010, 10:34 pm

    When I was training for my half I definitely had a bigger appetite most of the time – it was actually really nice! I craved good, whole foods, as well as chocolate here and there. Sitting down to a big bowl of oat bran, fruit, and yoghurt after a 2 hour run was just so satisfying!

    I’d have to have some fuel mid-run for anything above 8 miles – everyone is different, but I agree that a quick shot of glucose can’t hurt.

  • Melissa September 22, 2011, 11:19 pm

    I’m training for my first half, so (like so many others) this post was very timely for me! (Actually I think I found it by a link from a more recent one, but just that you referred to it with a link was timely too!)
    I have read more articles than I care to count about what the body needs “according to science” and “according to studies.” What I am learning is that my body is MY body, and not restricted to the cold, well-defined “laws” of statistics.
    I, too, have to fuel for any run over about 5 or 6 miles (for me it is mostly a blood sugar issue- I’m hypoglycemic, and after about 6 miles, my blood sugar takes a nosedive if I don’t fuel. I haven’t tried sports drinks mid-run to see if that will help more. I tend to believe it is hard to mess with the perfection of water…).
    I, too, am trying and learning where the “balance” is. And I really haven’t found it yet. I ran the Warrior Dash last weekend, and I am only JUST STARTING to feel like I’m almost recovered from it. (It was a blast! But is was also very very very hard for me!) So, this week my mid-week miles did not get ran while I rested (though I did make it to the gym twice for light workouts…)
    But food is an issue for me. I was a yo-yo-er before I started running. Not a yo-yo dieter, because I didn’t “diet,” but I took activity in seasonal spurts, and my eating tended to be geared for whatever was in front of me, or whatever I was in the mood for (thankfully, I actually do enjoy salads and veggies, so it wasn’t always ALL bad). Now I’m trying to learn how to fuel without overfueling or undefueling. If I underfuel, my sugar drops out and I can’t get through a run or I make myself very sick (for, like, weeks). If I overfuel I gain weight quickly and easily. I am definitely struggling with this, but, more than anything else, I have discovered that nobody else’s plan “will work” for me. However, other people’s plans *do* give me ideas of things that I can try to see how my body and my life handles it. Sometimes I learn things that are helpful and great. Other times, I’m like “I am NEVER doing that again!!” (Like bananas anywhere near running—I get gassy and then I have the painful running farts!!!! t.m.i. I know. Sorry. 🙂 )

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