Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Guest Post: Energy to Run Pat Walsh

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Guest Post: Energy to Run Pat Walsh

 ** Energy to run **

Few questions recently about fuelling for the long run and hope some of this helps or gives you ideas to try out. You have trained hard to date, you still have some miles to go yet, but you want to make sure you have enough fuel on board and on the day have the energy to get you over the finish line.

Before I give any advice, I know the “serious runners” out there will frown at some of this but all I can do is give some tips that worked for me.

We are all different and what works for one, might not work for another runner. Also the length of time we are running has a bearing on this as well, as someone in the 4hr+ category will burn a lot more calories than a sub3hr person.

Equally there will be a difference in calories burnt, depending on your body weight.

Eat well in the days coming up to the long run / race. Good quality food with lots of water to get fully hydrated.

In the 24hrs beforehand eat easily digestible foods that are unlikely to cause cramp or any indigestion issues. Pasta, Rice, potatoes chicken, fish, cooked vegetables. Stay away from any foods that you think will take a while to digest such as red meat, tomatoes, lettuce, any raw vegetables or salads.

What you are trying to do is fill the muscles stores with readily available fuel that can be used on the run.

* Long run trial

Good idea to have 1 decent trial run and work through attire, pre-race food and fuel on the go. Have your usual breakfast beforehand and try to allow the time before the run to compare to race day. I know that means getting up early…!!

Conserve your energy after eating as best you can so the maximum is available for your run.

If you always run in the evening then you should try one early morning long run as that is what is happening on the race day.

* Pre run nibble.

If you find that you can eat something just before you run then you should. That puts more fuel in the system to be converted as you are running and will be used later. I have tried Jaffa Cakes, some Jellies, few spoons of yogurt, or half a banana at different times and these were ok for me. Eat slowly and if the first few miles are easy then these will be digested no bother.

* Early and Often

Most runners do not have enough energy stores to get them over the finish line so you have to take something to help you. There are exceptions I know and older runners who are training for years can get away with little or nothing.

However most people need to take something whether a gel, sweets, and energy drink to keep them going or else they burn out and hit the dreaded wall. This is when the body runs out of available fuel and at this stage you are feeling shite and taking anything is too late. I have ran with a packet of Jelly Babies and ate on at each mile mark…!! Mad stuff

Don’t forget to plant some water and fuel for the training run to match the race day.

* Water

Keep sipping water all through your run. If the body is dehydrated then the whole energy process slows down and can come to a stop. No water – no energy.

* Fat Burn

Most of us (including myself) have little stores of fat stored around the waist and hips (love handles) and if the effort level is low and oxygen is available then the body can burn this and use as fuel. Happy days..!! This is another great reason to go very easy in the early miles and let the body use these reserves as an energy source.

* Kicking the can down the road

Whatever you take onboard will help delay this empty feeling and what you are trying to do is postpone this emptiness until you are finished. The gel at mile 5 is the energy for mile 10. So start early as it will take the body time to convert this. Be disciplined and don’t lose yourself in the occasion. Remind your friends to fuel up, remind yourself when you see others doing it.


For any fuel / energy to digest and get to your muscles you need to be in the right effort level. If you are running hard in the Red zone with almost max Heart Rate then the body is working to keep you moving and doesn’t have the available capacity to digest the food and water and make it available to you. You are few miles from disaster.

Know your Heart, know how your body feels and keep the effort steady but enough that it can be maintained. Leave some processing power for the food to digest and the energy to flow to the muscles.

If you are breathing hard and can’t talk then that is great for a 5K but a recipe for disaster in a Marathon.

Keep the faith, learn from your mistakes and just “BE AWESOME”.

Hope some of this helps and your run this weekend goes well.


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