Santa Barbara Marathon, S01E06: running fuel

To run a marathon, you need to take care of getting calories in. You have to hydrate and you also have to eat. Gels, energy chews, sugar cubes, fruits. Large choice of solutions, as large as the pack of runners. I did experiments of my own while training for the marathon. Let's talk about it.



Before training for a marathon

On my previous half marathon races, when I felt I needed an energy boost, my favorite option was sugar cubes. On training runs, I tried gels and energy chews, beans or chomps. Not a big success. I never liked gels, chomps, beans. For my last half marathons, I used energy chews alternating with sugar cubes. I am not a big fan but I like the fact it gives me another option and it's easy to swallow.

But, for a half marathon, nutrition is not a big deal. You don't need to eat while racing a half marathon. It's nice to have something for a quick energy fix, but it's not essential.

Eating on the run

Let start by stating some facts, just for you to know where my choice is coming from. As far as eating is concerned, the playboy and I cook a lot. It's not a new thing, but even truer since we moved to the USA. Let just say we are even more cautious. If we can cook something ourselves, we do it. And, to be totally honest, we are no big fans of products with unknown ingredients. So, it was obvious we would try to apply that to our running fuel. Training for my first marathon was the excuse we needed to look towards homemade running fuel solutions.

I don't think there is THE running fuel solution, unique and perfect for everyone. Each runner has to try to find out what's work or not for him. Everyone is not able to eat solid food while running. Everyone can't stomach the same running fuel. Some people can stomach almost anything without any GI issue. While others can't. The running time can also affect what you can eat or not. So, I think the trick is: TRY for YOURSELF.

If you never tried eating while running, try that: tonight, at diner time, eat your dessert while running around the table. Eating, running, breathing, all at once. YES, you'll quickly understand why it's an issue.

Marathon training and running fuel experiments

On my long runs, I only used homemade running fuel. I tried recipes from a French recipes book. I modified them when needed (too dry, not thick enough, for example). I narrowed down 3 options I'll take for the marathon.

1- Almond paste with grains (quinoa, kasha)

2 - Cereal bars with fruit paste

3 - Dried tomatoes and pistachios bars

I'll also carry sugar cubes and energy chews with me, just in case I need a quick sugar fix.

I tried the third option because I noticed I quickly get sick of sugar while running. And, because of that, I tend to loose my appetite (well, I don't really have one while running) or, more accurately, it's getting more and more difficult to force something down. So, I gave this salty option a try and it worked very well.

The book I used

"Secrets d'endurance", Kecily and Kristof Berg - unfortunately, it seems it hasn't been translated in English


What about you? What do you eat while running a marathon? Gels? Energy chews? Fruits? Homemade running fuel? Do you have stories about nutrition on the run? Let me know!


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Next races

  • NONE

Miles / km

  • 1 mile = 1.6 km / 1 km = 0.6 mile
  • 5K = 3.1 miles
  • 10K = 6.2 miles
  • half marathon = 13.1 miles = 21.1 km
  • marathon = 26.2 miles = 42.2 km