Nutrition During Training

Race season is upon us.  I have 4 (planned) races before mid-May.

Race 13.1

Movie Madness

Monument 10K


This means more hours training those muscles, stretching those muscles and fueling those muscles.  But how should you be fueling?

I’ve had several clients come to me because they actually end up gaining weight during intense training periods.

There are a few reasons why:

1.  Muscles gain

Your body adapts to this extra training by developing more muscles mass.

2.  Extra glycogen (a substance deposited in bodily tissues as a store of carbohydrates) storage

According to RunnersConnect, for every ounce of glycogen, the body also stores 3 ounces of water. Add staying hydrated to that and you could be looking at bigger numbers on the scale.  THIS IS A GOOD THING- extra glycogen and fluids HELPS you race day.

3.  Overestimating calories

I just ran 15 miles.  I can eat WHATEVER I want.


The amount of calories we burn running depends on the pace/intensity/duration and your size.  Generally speaking, we burn 80-100 calories per mile.


4.  Waiting too long after running to eat.

The longer you put off replenishing those glycogen storages, the more attractive sweets and fatty foods become.  Why?  Your body just wants to recover and those fuels supply the most energy the fastest.

5.  You may not be moving as much after a hard training run.

So, even though you ran a hard 15 miles, you become a couch potato for the rest of the weekend.  This means burning less overall calories, even though you may have burned a great amount during the run.


My tips

1. Don’t worry about the scale.  Numbers lie.

2. Eat within 20 minutes of exercising with something high protein and carb.  This will help muscles repair.  Aim for 20g protein in a shake.  My favorite…

3.  Get a majority of your carbs from those lower on the glycemic index, but don’t avoid carbs.  That’s your body’s energy source for all this training!

4.  For runs shorter than 60 minutes, don’t worry about fueling during it.  Your body can handle it.  According to this article, the average person can store about 400g of glycogen in their muscles, and about 100g in their liver- AKA enough energy to run or walk about 20 miles.  During the first hour of exercise, most of your energy comes from glycogen stored in your muscles.

After the 60 minute mark, the muscles begin to get fuel from the blood sugar, which is in turn supplied by glycogen stored in your liver, as well as from their own stores.  Your liver glycogen levels are limited.  So when it’s empty, your blood sugar level falls and you are unable to carry on exercising.  This is why it is important to keep those liver and glycogen stores somewhat filled.

 How filled?  About 30g to 60g an hour of carbohydrate.  BUT be sure to start fueling BEFORE you start to feel tired, as it can take up to 30 minutes to absorb.

My favorite long runs fueling…

They are a little chewy, but they are light, easy to stuff in a pocket and a good blend of wholesome goodness.

Or, I would highly recommend checking out this book.

Real food versus yucky gels.

Don’t forget to practice fueling BEFORE the race.  Nothing like a good old GI issue in front of hundreds of people!

This post is part of a partnership with Race 13.1.

 Check them out to sign up for one near you!

How do you fuel for races or during training?

6 thoughts on “Nutrition During Training

  1. vitatrain4life says:

    This is perfect timing for me! I agree with so much of what you said (and love the picture of the mid-day snooze 🙂 and I have to check out that real food fuel book. I can only eat a few gels on long runs/races before I need REAL food. It just makes sense! Thanks for breaking it down so well. Perfect reference guide!

  2. Tina Muir says:

    Yep! Love this Emma! So true, and I think a lot of us fall into some traps, but at the same time, it is important not to obsess over it, especially when it comes to the scale. Thanks for the reminder 🙂 This will be so helpful!

  3. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes says:

    I’ve been using Honey Stinger gels…they seem to be the ones that are most all natural. I love those chia bars, in fact I have two boxes at home but never thought to use them as fuel during my running. I may have to try them on my next run!

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