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5506 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Jun 21, 2012 11:31 AM by BOSNPM
ESLosey Rookie 4 posts since
Dec 28, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

May 13, 2012 10:17 PM

marathon training long run nutrition question!

Im a 29 year old female whos always been reasonably active. Always a casual runner (5ks and 10ks for fun) but more seriously Ive been running consistently for about two years and this spring decided to train for my first marathon. As its my first, my goal is to just finish as happily as possbile. Everything has been going well without any major hitches until i passed my 15 mile mark.


I have 6 weeks left til the Big Day - four long runs (two are 20 milers) and two weekends of tapering. mid week runs are 5-10-5-5. long runs are 10:30/mile and the others are 9:00/mile. I have tried to keep hydrated on a daily basis and dont drink much caffeine (maybe one drink per day). I eat sensibly and healthily just as I did prior to this training and havent really altered anything to compensate for extra running.


So my first 13 and 15 miles in this training were great - in fact both days i felt like i could keep running. Last weekend my 13 miler was freaking hard from about mile 8 but i finished it. Today was supposed to be 17 but i absolutely couldnt make it past 13. Again at mile 8 i just felt empty, despite my usual Gu every 4-5 miles with 6-8oz water (which ive been doing since i hit 8 miles many weeks ago without any issues). AND I was so thristy at the end.  It wasnt a new running route, wasnt any hotter or more humid than usual. I slept well last night and even napped for a bit a couple hours before the run (Im an evening runner).


Here's my question - Im suspecting Im doing something wrong when it comes to nutrition and/or hydration. Any suggestions on how to alter eating the day before or of a longer run?Do I need to do this at all ?Same quesiton for hydration? Or is there something else anyone can identify Im doing wrong??


Thanks for all the help! I look forward to getting over this hump. I really want to go into race day as confident as I can with a solid plan


- Erin

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. May 14, 2012 1:49 PM (in response to ESLosey)
    Re: marathon training long run nutrition question!

    A couple questions. What is your anticipated marathon pace?  Are you taking any fluids besides 6-8 oz. with the Gu?  You said it wasn't any hotter but how hot was it?  If you're used to 60 and it's 70 that's an important difference.  You also said you "tried to keep hydrated". What does that mean?  How are you monitoring your state of hydration?


    The paces for your runs should revolve around your marathon pace.  Based on what you're running I would guess you're shooting for a 9-minute marathon pace (just under 4 hours).  6-8 oz. every 4 -5 miles is probably not enough to maintain performance, particularly if the temperature has gone up even 10 degrees.  The easiest way to check your hydration is urine color, which should be pale yellow all the time, except right after your runs.  Darker and you're not getting enough fluid.  Clear and you're getting lots, and probably running to the bathroom often.


    Some things to think about.  This whole hydration/nutrition business is often the hardest part of training.




  • db_woodall Amateur 16 posts since
    Mar 15, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. May 17, 2012 6:19 AM (in response to ESLosey)
    marathon training long run nutrition question!

    Hi Erin,


    Perhaps you just need to throw in extra rest days?  Sounds like you're just depleted.  Long runs should be at *least* 2 min/mile slower than your race pace, but you still get all the benefit of the long run by going much slower than that (I've read the Kenyans run 4 min/mile under race pace on their long runs...)  It also sounds like you're doing long runs almost every weekend? Most training plans I've seen call for a long run every other weekend and less once you get up to 17-18 miles.  The last thing you want to do is get to the starting line with tired legs!


    WRT to nutrition during the long run/race, it sounds like you're doing it right - a gel every 4-5 miles, and 1-2 oz of water per mile.  In my case, I found that if I take only GU (I like the Chomps) after 18 miles I began to feel nauseous - too much sugar. I found that if I alternate a GU with 1/2 Clif Bar every 4-5 miles (getting roughly 100 cal. each time, maybe a bit more) it solved that problem.  I've even packed a 1/2 PBJ sandwich for a mid long run refuel.


    I think you're right to want to finish happy.  You don't have to maintain any pace to have a great marathon experience and really enjoy every mile!!!




    P.S. Do you do any post-run recovery nutrition?  This is my usual recovery shake - it will take you from feeling wiped out to feeling great. You want to drink it as soon as possible following the run, then follow up with a good meal in an hour or so.


    Dave's Power Shake

    1/2 cup milk

    1/2 cup ice

    1 medium banana, sliced

    1 heaping Tbsp chocolate protein powder (I like vegan rice protein powder)

    1 nice squirt of dark chocolate syrup


    Blend on highest speed for 1 minute.

  • db_woodall Amateur 16 posts since
    Mar 15, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. May 17, 2012 12:55 PM (in response to ESLosey)
    marathon training long run nutrition question!

    Glad you like the shake!  When my daughter and I were training for this year's Disney marathon, it helped her more than a few times...  I am also in N. Texas (Dallas area), so I fully understand the heat - and according to Galloway, you need to slow down .5 min/mile for every 5 degrees over 60, and that's before factoring in the slow down for long runs.  When it gets warm, I carry a water bottle with me and sip as I go.  Running in the morning is a good way to avoid heat, but I would recommend against running in the dark unless you're with a group. I've been out at White Rock Lake many times in the dark (and in rain) and it can be a little scary if you're by yourself.


    WRT pacing, I think you'll get a lot of opinions.  First, you gotta respect the distance. 18, 20, 26 miles is a long way to run, so plan to go slower w/more miles.  I use RunKeeper (a free iPhone app) that uses the GPS to log distance and pace, and if you do a run/walk it'll do that too.  I have it programmed to announce average pace every half mile.  For the long run, 13 min/mile will seem almost like a jog, but remember that the point is to build endurance for propelling yourself for hours at a time.  For the mid-week runs, I'd set one or two of them aside to just run at your favorite "comfort" pace. These are "maintenance" runs.  Another can be dedicated to speed work or hills.  I wouldn't log a long distance (like 10 miles) during the week especially if you just did a long run on the last weekend or have one coming up.  But then I'm not 29 anymore either (and everyone is different)...  Rest is just as important as training!


    When you get to the race, you will desperately want to take off and go when the gun fires. But there is a huge amount of wisdom in planning to go 15-30 seconds slower per mile for the first 4 miles.  Save that strength for the end of the race when you'll really need it!!!



  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. May 17, 2012 4:20 PM (in response to ESLosey)
    marathon training long run nutrition question!

    Tough question.  I'll assume you're running long on Sunday and the other runs are Tuesday thru Friday.  If you're doing that mid-week 10 at 9-minute pace, 10:30 for the marathon may be a trifle slow.  But let's work with 10:30.  I would suggest around 11:30 (maybe even 12:00) for your long runs. Do the first weekly 5 as purely a recovery run, nice and easy, perhaps as slow as your long run.  Do the 10 as mostly a marathon-pace run.  Go easy for 2 or 3 miles, then marathon pace for 6 or 7 and save the last mile for a cool-down. The next 5-miler should again be slow, easy recovery. The last 5 can be anything you want, just a regular-paced run, or hills, tempo, intervals, as long as you're getting a rest/cross-training day before your long run.  Adjust the schedule if you're running the day before or the day after your long run.  If the day before, don't run hard, just do an everyday run.  If the day after, it needs to be easy, recovery. If you find it really hard to go that slow, try picking up all the paces by maybe 30 seconds per mile.  You may have to play with it to see what feels best.


    Fluids - particularly given the conditions (temp/humidity), you should try to get 32 oz. per hour during your run.  At a 10-minute pace, that's 4-6 oz. per mile.  The Gu every 45 minutes is about right.




  • lifl2003 Pro 129 posts since
    Sep 30, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. May 30, 2012 5:52 AM (in response to ESLosey)
    marathon training long run nutrition question!

    I love this post! I had the same question. I am running my first marathon in October (Marine Corps Marathon) and am training for it now. 


    Currently I am running four 5 mile runs (Mon-Tue-Wed and Fri) during the week before work.


    Saturday is my long run day which is currently 12 miles.


    My plan was to hit 15 miles on Saturdays by July 1 each Saturday.  Then alternate Saturday runs in excess of 15 each week (15 then 17, 15, then 18 with a couple of 20 mile runs by September).  How is that for a plan? 


    I am running a half on June 24th in Fairfield, Ct and a half on September 29th in the Hamptons as a tune up for the big run!


    Like Erin I just want to finish my first marathon happy!


    I have started using the Gu packs on the long runs (one 15 minutes before the run and then every 45 minutes into the run).  I ahve also started running with a hydration pack to keep my fluids up as it is getting hot here on Long Island.


    Any thoughts or suggestions are encouraged!



    "I can't means I won't"

    My Blog - http://

  • db_woodall Amateur 16 posts since
    Mar 15, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. May 30, 2012 2:40 PM (in response to lifl2003)
    marathon training long run nutrition question!

    Hi Mike,


    You should check out for Jeff Galloway's marathon training plans, or perhaps (actually, his Disney marathon training plans aren't posted yet for 2013).  They are a really good place to start with regards to pacing and long run scheduling.


    WRT to long-run nutrition, just pay attention to how you feel.  If you have stomach upset, try something different (but don't try something new on race day!).  My personal opinion is that with gels/chomps, you don't need one before the long run unless it has been hours since you've eaten (and IMO, you don't need a sports drink if you're using gels/chomps - ick).  I usually do my long runs early in the morning, and I'll have a hard-boiled egg, a banana and a granola bar before I head out the door (so usually that means 25-30 minutes prior to running).  You want primarily carbs with a fair amount of protein, but low fat.


    Also on the topic of stomach upset, you can get "gastric distress" (stomach cramps, diarrhea) from pushing yourself too hard, so you need to try to figure out if the upset is due to refueling, or something else (like effort level). If you go 2-3 min/mile under your race pace, then this shouldn't be an issue.



  • BobL204 Amateur 35 posts since
    May 26, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Jun 3, 2012 5:23 AM (in response to ESLosey)
    marathon training long run nutrition question!

    What a great thread with so much good advice.  I too am training for my first full in Sept. using SmartCoach.  It provides good distance/pace for workouts, but nothing on nutrition.  I have done 3 halfs so far and my longest run is 14-15 range and the only thing I use is gatorade (12 ozs during the run) at 6, 10, 12 miles and the end.  I also usually run first thing in the morning, before breakfast and have never had a problem.  I do occassionally have muscle burn in my legs after the run, but that subsides in about an hour or so.  I guess as my runs lengthen I need to start energizing during the run and now is a good time to experiment.  So I guess I am off to the running store to gets some nutrition. 

  • Webpro11 Legend 258 posts since
    Feb 27, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Jun 3, 2012 3:57 PM (in response to BobL204)
    marathon training long run nutrition question!

    Lots of good info on this thread. I use hammer gel instead of chomps with great success. I also use Hammer Recoverite after long runs. Check our for tons of good fueling info.

    2012 Races: Tony from Florida

    Jan.7,2012 Walt Disney World Half Marathon Orlando FL 02:09:14 PR

    Oct 7 2012 Chicago Marathon Chicago Illinois 05:17:43

    Feb 10, 2012 Rock N Roll Half Marathon St Petersburg FL

    2011 Races:

    Started running at 58 ( Nov 23rd 2010)

    Half Marathon Results

    Oct 31,2011 Fl Halloween Halfathron 02:18:22

    Sept 4, 2011 Dodge Rock ‘n’ Roll Virgina Beach Half Marathon 02:28:20

    April 30,2011 Country Music Half Marathon Nashville TN 02:56:02

  • runningangelinvt Pro 136 posts since
    Dec 7, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Jun 21, 2012 10:08 AM (in response to Webpro11)
    marathon training long run nutrition question!

    Hi everyone,


    You guys have such awesome advice so I would like to thank you! I have been thinking about doing a marathon in May of 2013. It falls on the last sunday in May and I have been doing a 10k that is scheduled on a sunday two weeks after this marathon. Is two weeks enough time to recuperate from the marathon? Thank you




    Life is too short not to waddle......

    2012 Events:

    Crowley Brothers Memorial 10k Road Race 6/10/12

    Finish time- 1:38:23

    Colchester Triathlon 7/29/12 (Kayak 2mi, Bike 12mi, Run 3.1mi)

    Finish time- 2hrs 38min 04sec (Will never do the kayak part again!)

    2011 Events:

    Crowley Brothers Memorial 10k Road Race 06/12/2011 Finish time:10k event 1 hour 39 minutes 40 seconds

    Colchester Triathlon 07/31/2011 2hr 24 min (not my best ever! but I finished)

    Started C25K 12/15/10

  • BOSNPM We're Not Worthy 2,482 posts since
    Nov 20, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Jun 21, 2012 11:31 AM (in response to runningangelinvt)
    marathon training long run nutrition question!

    You could run the 10K easy, do not race it!  I run 6 or so the following Sat after my marathons.

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