Dialing in Your Nutrition and Hydration Strategy

In this month’s edition of Trail Talk we are going to cover hydration and nutrition options for both trail and road runners choosing to tackle longer distance training runs and races.  We have all found ourselves in the middle of a long run where we hit the proverbial “wall”.  Suddenly you lack energy, your vision gets blurry, and although you are exerting even more effort, you cannot help but begin to slow down.   If you have had this experience, there is a good chance it could have been avoided by better managing both your nutrition and hydration during your run. In this article we will go over some general rules of thumb to help you stay on top of your nutrition and hydration strategy.  After reading this I encourage you to test the many options available to you.  Training is the time to dial in a system that suits you best.  Do not be that person who is trying something for the first time the day of a race!

Fuel For The Run

The energy we have stored in our bodies when we start a run comes in the form of glycogen.  In general we have enough of this stored to last us around 90 minutes of exercise.  Once you have depleted your glycogen stores, it is imperative to begin taking in calories to keep from bonking. A general rule of thumb is to begin taking in 200-300 calories an hour after reaching this point.  This will, of course, depend on many things such as your body weight, level of exertion, etc., however, this is a good baseline to begin with.

Gels and Gummies

Energy gels are a great way to take those calories in because they are easy to carry, digest well, and come in convenient packets of around 100 calories each, which makes it easy to track your hourly intake.  They also provide the right type of calories, in the form of carbohydrates, which can be converted into energy quickly. Gels with various amounts of caffeine also exist and can be utilized for an extra boost of energy. Gummy bear consistency chews are also extremely popular for those who may not enjoy the consistency of gels.  These chews are offered by multiple brands and come in a variety of flavors to choose from.


Neglecting to drink enough fluids and replace electrolytes is another common mistake by runners.  By managing hydration and electrolytes well you are also more likely avoid cramping.  The Runner’s Edge carries electrolyte drink mixes as well as flavored electrolyte tablets, which you can dissolve in your water bottles.  As the days get hotter, and your runs get longer, it is important to practice what amount of liquid and electrolytes will keep you feeling strong.

Post Run/Recovery

Just because you are done with your run doesn’t mean you can slack on your nutrition strategy! Now that you have properly depleted yourself with a good workout or longer run, it’s time to replenish your glycogen stores with some calories.  Studies show that eating directly after a run or workout can be very beneficial to recovery. By getting these calories on board early you will minimize post-exercise soreness, rebuild muscle tissue, and restore muscle glycogen.  Nutritionists have found that not only the timing of the food intake, but the type of food you take in post run is very important.  What has proven most beneficial to replenish your body is a protein to carbohydrate ratio of 3 to 1. We carry Hammer Nutrition’s Recoverite drink mix as an easy and convenient option for getting those essential calories after a run. This will allow you to focus more on training and less on recovering!

So come down to the Runner’s Edge and check out the multiple brands, flavors, and options we carry for your nutrition and hydration needs. Our staff have road and trail tested these products, and are happy to help you with figuring out what will work best for your specific training. Remember to test your system early and try multiple brands, flavors, in order to be dialed come race day!  The right strategy will keep you feeling strong over the long run!

Mike Foote

Mike recently mismanaged his electrolytes on a long run and may have had to borrow some water and electrolyte tabs from his running partner before their fourth ascension of Mt. Sentinel.  He hopes to someday practice what he preaches and carry enough food, liquids, and electrolytes for himself!