If you're new to the world of distance running, you may have been able to get by with minimal to no fueling (aka eating) during your runs up to this point. I'm not saying that is the right move but you may have been able to push through.
Generally- if you're running for 60 minutes or more you should be consuming carbs + electrolytes. How much of each of these depends on a few things:
Duration of the run
Previous fueling experiences
Your sweat rate/if you're a salty sweater
Duration of the run: I very intentionally did not say distance here because we all run at different paces which means it may take me 60 minutes to run 6 miles but it may take someone else more or less time than that.
For runs lasting 1-2.5 hours aim for 30-60 grams of carbs/hour
For runs lasting 2.5 hours or more, aim for 60-90 grams of carbs/hour
Previous Fueling Experience: If you have never fueled during a run before, it's smart to stick to the lower end (if not even a little bit lower) of those ranges to allow your body to get used to eating during your runs. As you are able to tolerate that amount, you can start to add in more carbs until you find the amount that makes you feel your best. It's definitely some trial and error!
Sweat Rate/Salty Sweater: This is one just as important as the others but I see a lot of runners not want to take the time to calculate their sweat rate and just wing it. Your fluid status impacts your sodium and carb intake as well so if one is out of whack, the others may be as well. Performing a sweat rate test is an easy way to figure out your individual fluid needs. If you're a salty sweater you may notice white marks on your clothes or hat when you finish a run. You may even be able to brush it off your skin (that's me!). The recommended range of sodium per hour is pretty big so it's important to PRACTICE and find what works best for you. The general guidelines are between 500-700mg/hour but this can get above 1000mg/hour for those who are heavy/salty sweaters or when the weather gets hot!
This is information that I take into account when making my own fueling plan or fueling plan for a client. In the next blog post, I'll give ya'll more insight as to what the next steps are after you evaluate these criteria.
If you're wondering what the heck a fueling plan is--check out this blog post
Kayla Fitzgerald is a Registered Dietitian & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor located in Charleston, South Carolina. She works with clients 1:1, through small group coaching, and self guided programs. Her goal is to help you fuel your body for whatever the day has in store whether it's a 100 mile race or getting through the work day.