The Refueling Conundrum

I had a delightful long run this weekend. The most delightful part was that last week was a “down” week, so I only had to run 11 miles. Only! That’s hilarious. We can all remember a very few months ago, when running 20 miles for a week was a serious accomplishment, right? My, what a difference a training plan and the persistence of tiny squares makes. These days, I can scoff at an 11-miler: “You call yourself a LONG run? Please. I could eat you up for breakfast and ask for seconds.”

This week marks the midpoint of marathon training. Week 9 of a 17-week plan. It also marks the point where I’m going to need to show the long runs a bit more respect…or suffer the consequences. I’m talking, of course, about refueling. I struggled with this concept during my last foray into marathon training. Eating/drinking on the run is just a completely foreign concept to me. I’ve strategically placed water bottles or strategically routed runs to pass water fountains in order to grab a quick drink every now and then, but that’s about it.

I also have a bit of a sensitive stomach, which is definitely a problem. I forced down gels of various brands and flavors last year, but it was always a battle with the gag reflex that I occasionally lost. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Husband likes the Jelly Belly Sport Beans, but I didn’t really care for those., either. Now I have a taste that I don’t like that requires chewing. Excellent. A friend shared that she eats real food on her long runs—graham crackers, bananas, etc.—which sounds more appealing to me but doesn’t do much to help with the actual race if I get accustomed to eating something that would be hard to carry and unlikely to be offered at aid stations.

There’s also the problem of transportation. How to carry the necessary supplies? I have a feeling that a fuel belt (or fanny pack, as RB calls them) and I would be uncompatible. Not that there’s anything wrong with a fuel belt! This is just another weird, illogical Megan thing. The longer I run, the less I want to have to lug around. One time during a cross country race I became convinced that my watch was slowing me down. (Yes, it’s crazy. I already said this fell into the “illogical Megan” category.) I don’t even know why I was wearing my watch at all. I probably thought getting a mile split was dreadfully important until the race started and I remembered that there’s always someone reading mile times. Anyway. After trying unsuccessfully to quell the irrational idea, I spotted my family cheering in the crowd up ahead. I peeled off the watch in one quick motion and tossed it in their general direction. Grandma snagged the watch and I won the race even if everyone thought I was crazy. Problem solved! This solution doesn’t work so well when there’s no one to intrust the offending item with, and I’d hate to lose a $40+ fuel belt due to long run induced insanity.

Last year, I pretty much ignored the refueling need, which led to some pretty uncomfortable long runs and fairly miserable recoveries. This year, I’ve resolved to be better. And thanks to my own personal Marathon Expert, I think I may have found a solution to the refueling conundrum.

ME’s solution is simple. As I was agonizing over the “fuel belt or no fuel belt” quandry, she recommended carrying a small, recycable water bottle during long runs. It’s easily accessible and can be disposed of. Although hauling around a water bottle sounds inconvenient, it can’t be any heavier than several smaller containers of water strapped to my waist. Right? I tried it out a couple of weeks ago during a 15-miler, and I was pleasantly surprised. Genius! A solution that appeals to cheapskate Megan and illogical Megan. About the time it started to drive me crazy, we passed a conveniently placed trash can.

ME also suggested “shot bloks” for the other component of refueling. I haven’t tried any of these on the run yet, but I’ve eaten a couple beforehand and I’m seeing some potential. They pretty much taste like fruit roll-ups, which I have no problem with, and there’s no real mediciny (no way that’s a word) aftertaste. They’re a little harder to carry than, say, a gel packet, but I’ll manage.

I’ll get to test my solution out this weekend during our 17-miler…and then during the 18 and 20-milers to follow. Hip-hip-hooray…I guess. 🙂

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4 responses

  1. I always felt like this would be a problem, and a fuel belt just doesn’t appeal to me either although many people use and appreciate them. I think I need a picture of this disposable water bottle cause I can’t picture it in my head. 🙂 Ok, thanks!

  2. The SHot bloks are good and don’t have that taste because Clif products are all organic for the most part. No artificial chemicals really. They make their own gels as well just called Clif SHots. I prefer them to GU, and power gels, if you can swallow the consistency you might like those to, very concealable in a key pouch in your shorts of pocket. Also the Shot Bloks have gotten a new package I saw two weeks ago at the Myrtle Beach Half, they package them in a stick and make for very covenant access. Just a thought!

  3. Hey Megan, I like the shot blocks too. I have a friend that swears by fig newtons and chocolate covered coffee beans…. I haven’t tried them yet, mainly because if I have fig newtons in the house I would eat them all before my run….

    I can tell you are dead set against a fuel belt, but I love mine. Of course I am probably at least twice your size so it doesn’t seem to ‘weigh’ on me….

    Good luck. I think I am going to try again next year…..

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