Monday, March 15, 2010

Race Plan – Part 2

Yeah yeah. I know. This was supposed to be posted Saturday. But hey. The weather in Southern California is beautiful, so I took some time to enjoy the outdoors. Well – okay. I had to work. Boo hoo!

On Friday, I posted my starting line and pacing plans. Today I’m discussing my fueling plan. A good fueling plan needs to take three things into account: (1) what should I eat, (2) how much should I eat, and (3) how often should I eat it?

The best resources I’ve seen that discusses this issue are this one and this one from Hammer Nutrition. These are *excellent* technical articles. I would highly suggest that when you have time, follow the links and learn more than you’ll ever want to know.

Without getting overly technical (which means that I’m not going to defend these numbers here), here is what we burn and what we are able to replace during exercise:

Fluids (ml) 30-90 oz 17-28 oz
Sodium (mg) 2000 500-700
Fuel (carb cell) 700-900 240-280

The goal of a fueling strategy replace is to replace what we can assimilate. Less and you will visit the wall. More and suffer a whole host of issues – from swollen hands to gastric emptying (yucko!).

The last time I ran one of these abominations called a marathon, I fueled every three miles. This had a couple of positive side effects:

  1. Psychologically, I broke the race down into a series of 3 mile segments. My focus was short term (3,6,9,12,15,18,21 and 24 miles). I never got overwhelmed by the thought of 26.2.
  2. I downed one Hammer Gel and two Endurolyte capsules every three miles – about 260 calories and 80 mg of sodium an hour. I suffered no ill effects.

While my fuel situation was okay (I finished coherent and standing), my legs were fatigued by mile 14. Interestingly enough, on a couple of longish runs this training cycle (out beyond 12 miles) I also suffered leg fatigue. Reading through the articles, what appears to be happening is I’m just not ingesting enough sodium. So, on my last longish run, I up’ed the amount of electrolytes that I took by 50% with no stomach issues, and didn’t suffer the same fatigue that I had a couple weeks earlier. So with that in mind, here’s my fueling strategy:

  • One Hammer Gel every three miles. That will equate to about 240 – 260 calories per hour. I’ll be using some caffeinated Hammer Gel (Espresso – 50 mg of caffeine) for the last three fuel points for that little added “boost”.
  • Three Endurolyte capsules with every gel packet. That is about 6 Endurolytes an hour, which equates to about 250 mg of sodium. If I start feeling more fatigued, I will increase my sodium uptake using salt packets (assuming they are available on the course).
  • Water. Often. About 30 ounces per hour. The small cups typically used are 3 ounces. I’ll supplement from my water belt as necessary. This should make for an interesting juggling exposition.
  • I’ll stay away from the Powerade (course supplied drink) unless I just feel like I want something sweet. I usually get that craving toward the latter portions of the race. I’ll stay with small swigs.

So there you go. All that’s left is the Big Day. Oh. And the day before and the morning of. Remember how I said I like plans?


  1. Hmm, I didn't know that Endurolytes can helped with leg fatigue. I normally take 2 every half an hour and more when my legs start to cramp. I really wish that I was a more efficient runner so that I would not have to deal with fumbling around for these pills and Gu's while running. I have a hard time doing 2 things at once. You are really scientific about your fueling. I have been running for a couple of years now and have never taken the time to examine what I did before, during or after a race.

  2. I wonder though with your heart rate already doing what it is doing thru the entire race - is consuming caffiene the best thing? have you come across any benefit analysis for consuming it during a race of any length?

    Kelley from Running Free gave me some great advice - Ensure. A can during a long run or race helps her greatly with Carb loss. I tried it once before my foot injury. Works better than just gels as my Carb replenishment on runs longer than 8-10 miles. It is easy on the stomach as well. The cans are small enough to fit somewhere? I just held it my hand till needing it. But, then again I cannot run without holding something in my hand. Odd, I know?

  3. Thanks for the links to the technical articles! Like Tea Time, I didn't know that sodium and leg fatigue were connected. I'm surprised by how much sodium we can lose and assimilate in an hour. It seems like a lot!

    What flavor of gel will you be taking in the beginning of the race? Do you have a favorite?

  4. I love all your stats and how you've got every detail all accounted for - my kind of guy!!!! :). I always take caffeine gels at the end of a marathon, too...always gives a quick pick me up (at least mentally). Everything is coming together for you; it's going to all go so well! Remain positive and rest up. Get a few extra carbs in starting Wed. :)

  5. All right, your plan is coming together, Glenn. Thanks for the links to the article. Interesting information that I had not really given too much thought to.

    I wish you well in your final days leading up to the race! All the best!

  6. Hi Glenn,
    It is totally okay to enjoy the outdoors in California:) I am glad that you took some time to enjoy it!

    Well I was very interested to see your fueling schedule. I really think that you have something with breaking the run into segments:) I might just have to try that! You are such a thinker and analyzer:) I bet the your office is immaculate and I right?

    Have a great week Glenn:)

  7. I think your fueling plan is pretty solid because I think it relates more to time in motion than it does to strict mileage. So, your fueling every 3 miles is roughly equal to me fueling every 5 miles - and that worked extraordinarily well for me until I skipped my last fueling and cramped at 24 miles.

    Some have told me to take fast food salt packets, but I'm not so sure about that. I think if I had taken my last gel at 22, I'd have made it through the whole race without cramping. There's quite a bit of sodium in most gels.

    The only thing I'd recommend is taking a swig of powerade after you fuel. Most water stations have the powerade first so you can grab one, take a drink then throw it before grabbing a water. If there's a choice, take the water over the Powerade, but take both if you can. Good luck!

  8. I agree, we had some beautiful weather this weekend.

    Sounds like you are doing your homework and you are really prepared.

    Good luck overcoming the leg fatigue this time, Glenn!

  9. I like the plan Glenn. I also love how detailed you are. All signs that this race is going to go so well for you! Just remember to PACE.

  10. yikes i clicked on those links and immediately my brain started to hurt with all those science-y words.

    i like your simple version much better. now, if only you would tell me what i need to do during my races? man, i am being so typical of the younger generations... expecting to be hand fed all the time. ;-)

    sounds like a good plan! i am interested to see how much water i usually take in over an hour... i am sure it's not within 17-28 oz! i kind of feel like i'd be drinking too much if i had that much, but i will have to try it out. thanks for the info.