As the calendar turns to September, marathoners begin their peak training for NYC so everything matters a little bit more. One key component to race day success is fueling your body properly. As someone who failed terribly with this component in two marathons, I decided it best to rely on more seasoned marathoners for their advice plus ask a first-timer what advice they have been given. Thanks to Matt Wong, Steve Wo and Megan Jones for taking the time to provide input.
Steve: Now is the time now for NYC marathoners to experiment with their fueling strategy or new gels to see how their stomach reacts to them. For marathons, I take a gel at 8, 13, 18, half a pack at 21 and the rest at 23. Splitting up the last pack helps keep my mind occupied in those final miles. I drink water with the gel so practice eating the gel before stopping at water fountains. In between gels, I drink Gatorade. For those not running major marathons like NYC, you may have to plan differently because smaller marathons will not have water stations every mile.
Matt: Here is a blog post for taking gels during a marathon which I have found very useful. It provides a simple scientific explanation for what your body is experiencing and explains ways to counteract.
Megan: In my very limited marathon training experience, I’ve heard conflicting things for gels and marathons:
- Train during your long runs as if you were really taking the gels/ whatever fuel. For example, if we were following Steve’s plan of taking them at miles 8, 13, 18, 21/23, then that’s how you should train
- I have also heard to train taking them later so, if you plan to take your first at 8 on race day then train by taking it a mile or so after (mile 9 or 10)
- And I have also heard not to train with fuel and run tired
I have run 10 half marathons, but have only figured out proper fueling in the last four. In those four half marathons, I had UCAN 20 mins before the race and a gel at mile 7. I always carried a water bottle with Nuun to avoid stopping at water stations unless necessary at mile 11 or 12. My biggest question is: how can I adjust my half marathon plan to fuel for the marathon?
We will post this piece in the Facebook group for experienced racers to express their opinions and first-timers to ask questions. Everyone is different so figure out what works best for you. Start testing different formulas and hypothesis now to develop a plan for race day.
In a future post, we will discuss practicing your chosen techniques in training events (Marathon Tune-Up, Bronx 10-miler, Grete’s Half and Staten Island Half) because practice makes perfect.
Look forward to a healthy discussion on this topic in the Facebook group. Have a great week!