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How long of a run before you need Gatorade, Gu, etc?

asked almost 4 years ago | Report

I know everyone has their own method, etc. regarding gu, sports drink, water, beans, etc., etc. and every possible combination of all those things. My question is pretty basic:
I run slowly (around 13 minutes/mile), so even my 4 and 5 mile runs are between 45 minutes and just over an hour. How long (considering both distance AND time) can I run before I should start considering something in addition to water?

Currently I take water with me on all my runs which are generally first thing in the morning (~5:30) on an empty stomach.

ETA: I am training for my first half marathon in about 8 weeks.

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  • practice what you will do on race day now. I personally would do a gu at around 4-5 miles and then around 10 miles. I don't think you need gatoraide for a half unless it is very hot. I do drink Poweraide when I train but it is for the first 4-6 miles when it is hot because once it is gone I switch to water. I think it adds to the fuel I consumed before running instead of the banana I used to have with my PB and J. I am running 16 or more miles on my long runs and have to refuel around every 5 miles or so. At the marathon my goal is to drink poweraide every other water stop and then do a Gu or GU Chomps the other. That way I am getting fuel evenly through out. Last year by mile 22 I was dizzy and had used up all reserves. I had fueled as I stated and still felt lousy. Did an earlier then planned GU and charged on to the finish with the dizziness passing. Do not run your half on an empty stomach. Eat something before your long runs to practice what works for you. Try to eat two hours before you run. I eat a PB and J on Natures Own Whole Wheat bread and Trader Joes PB and Low sugar Blueberry Jelly before all my long runs. The bread is around 50 a slice. plus a few hundred for the PB and maybe 40-50 calories for the jelly.So this around 370 calories. Marine Corp Day I will add a banana. I think that is what I did last year. We will see how my tummy feels that day.

    answered almost 4 years ago |Report

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  • On the GU package they recommend that you take it every 45 minutes, however, for a run if you aren't going to be running for 20 minutes after you take the GU, eating it isn't really going to help you on the run. You might as well wait until you get home and eat some real food (plus save the GU for when you'll need it).
    For a half marathon I try to have a water breaks at mile 4 and 10, with Gatorade some where in between. Around mile 6 or 7 I will take a GU and just enough water to wash it down with and usually that will be enough the get me through the race.
    I'd recommend that you head over to Hammer Nutrition's website and read there "book" "Endurance Athletes Guide to Success" http://www.hammernutrition.com/knowledge/download-receive-knowledge/
    I don't personally use their products, but this helped me figure out what my body needed when.
    As you said, a lot of it depends on the individual, so keep trying out different things, but most importantly, listen to your body! Good luck on the race and hopefully many more!

    answered almost 4 years ago |Report

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  • You really shouldn't need anything for runs under an hour. However, since your race will likely take you about 3 hours at your stated pace, you'll definately need something.

    First of all, I encourage you to ignore the marketing and do your own experimenting and research. The directions on the bottles and packets are conservative and designed to help sell more bottles and packets. Also, the science they reference is research they paid for so you have to take it with a grain of salt.

    The objective research I follow says you need about 50 to 60 grams of external carbs per hour. That's about 20oz of sport drink (Gatorade, Poweraid, etc.) per hour or 1 gel packet every 25-30 minutes. The recommendation is to start this process around the 30 minute mark, but like someone else said — if you're only running an hour or 45 mins it's pointless. You're better off going home and eating a healthy breakfast.

    Oh and remember that in order for gels to do their job properly, you need to drink about 9oz of water. This gives them the same dilution as a sports drink and help your body absorb it.

    Also... consider making your own sports drink with a 3:1 solution of apple juice and water. Throw in a dime-sized pinch of sea salt and you're all set. No extra sugars, colors, etc.

    Good luck!

    answered almost 4 years ago |Report

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  • theoretically, most people won't deplete their glycogen stores in a half marathon. that said, a little bump to the blood sugar level does make things easier. I do sports drinks for anything much over an hour, and start eating (cliff blocks, or cliff shots are my favorites- but I can take about anything), at 10-12 miles (8-9min/mi pace). So, when it hits an hour and a half- I'm grazing through the rest of the run.

    But- each person is different and it depends on where you are in your training. I remember my 1st 12 mile run- I took a gel at 6mi and it gave me a great boost. Could have been a placebo effect... but who cares?

    answered almost 4 years ago |Report

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  • it also depends on temp/humidity. I've gone 10 miles in 85 or 90 minutes with nothing, not even water and had no problems at all. Most of my runs are at 6 AM.

    But if it's hot I'll be sweating and I need to bring some gatorade/water mix or some juice/water mix even going 6 or 7 miles in an hour. Sweat depletes you of things you need to replace.

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  • I start to carry water and Gu at runs over 5 miles. THis summer, I think I should have carried water all summer....

    My runs got a lot better when I fueled before a run. I do get up at an insane hour, eat, and then sleep for another hour then run. Like Holle, I usually eat something like a bagel thin, or english muffin with some sort of fat on it (Peanut butter, butter butter, almond butter)

    When I ran my half, I did 6 miles on water/gatorade and then gelled at mile 7. I think doing it again my plan would be for more gel and less gatorade.

    Also good to just experiment around a bit and see what you like.

    answered almost 4 years ago |Report

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