At some point in every runners life you will experience what can only be described as a Bonk! This is simply “a condition in endurance sports where depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles results in sudden and severe fatigue.” So this begs the question; “How to avoid bonking” or “What should I eat during a Marathon or long run”.
First, If you’re on the fence and not sure if your stomach will be able to handle nutrition during a Marathon or long run, take this opportunity to try something new and just experiment.
Go to your local GNC, Fleet Feet, or Inside-Out Sports and just buy several different nutritional “Gels”. They come in all kinds of flavors, so you’ll just have to experiment and see what works best for you on a hot thirsty day. Examples of ones that I have tried in the past are GU, Power Bar Gel, and Clif Shot. The ingredients of these are all quite similar in that they will have about 25-30 grams of carbohydrates, with additional Sodium and Potassium. The carbohydrates help replenish your glycogen stores, and the Sodium and Potassium help battle fatigue and muscle cramping.
How often do I need nutritional gels?
A good rule of thumb is to have 1 Gel packet every 45 – 60 minutes during a Marathon or long run. I find it easier to remember to take it every 6 miles as the mile marker aid stations approach. So at mile 6, 12, 18, 24, as I see the aid station approaching, I take 1 GU and then wash it down with water from the aid station. Bring an extra just in case you drop one or need another.
Then keep on running!