Nancy, I am training for my first marathon and am starting to get to the point where I am out on my runs for over an hour. I am trying to figure out what products I should be consuming to keep up my energy levels and keep me hydrated at the same time.
Answer: First off, congrats on your hard work and dedication to your training program.
I am glad you asked about how to fuel during long runs, because fueling is an important part of your training program. You need to train your intestinal tract, as well as your heart, lungs and muscles. Too many marathons are needlessly lost in the porta-potties
You can experiment with standard foods (gummy candy, twizzlers, dried pineapple, rice crispy treats, fig newtons, pretzels) or products like gels, bloks, or sports beans. There is nothing magic about the engineered foods, other than convenience and portability.
Before the long run, you want to eat a small meal that will settle well during the long run (oatmeal, bagel, pasta). That food will keep you energized for about 60 to 90 minutes. Then, you want to target about 200 to 300 calories per hour (depending on your body size). While some (or all) of those calories can come from a sports drink, you can also drink plain water and get carbs with the suggestions listed above.
You might want to go to the website of your event and see what food/fluids they will offer on the course. By training with them, you'll know what ones work for your body.
Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD