Sunday, September 25, 2011

How to Stay Fueled and Nausea-Free on Long Runs

By Jannine Myers

Since many of you have recently started training for either the Kinser Half, or the Naha Marathon, I thought it might be a good idea to do a post on fueling for those long runs. When I started training for my first half marathon, I remember asking members of my running group what kinds of foods they took with them on their longer training runs. I really had no idea what I should be eating and drinking, so learning what others were fueling their bodies with was really helpful during those earlier running days.

One of the problems with long runs, is the issue Anna talked about in last week's post about "feeling the need to go." This becomes an even greater issue for people like myself, who already suffer from stomach problems. In this case, learning what foods to eat more of, and which foods to abstain from becomes crucial to ensuring a successful long run. While I am still trying figure out what my body best responds to, I have learned a few things along the way that may also work for you:
  • I never used to eat before my early morning runs as I generally don't feel hungry when I first wake up. I still don't eat anything if I am heading out for a shorter run (less than an hour), but anything beyond an hour and I now make sure that I eat something that will quickly digest and and give me a good energy boost. Examples of what I might eat prior to a long run, or a race, include: first and foremost, a good cup of java, followed by a banana and a piece of toast spread with peanut butter, or a home-made almond butter and honey energy ball (see recipe at bottom of this post), or a Snickers Marathon bar (dark chocolate - see the nutrition facts below)

  • I used to take energy gels with me on my long runs, but with my stomach being as sensitive as it is, I almost always felt sick and hit the wall, or I would finish but spend the rest of the day near a bathroom. Now I enjoy taking with me a selection of energy foods, including those pictured below:
Mochi (Japanese sticky rice treats filled with sweet azuki bean paste); Dried fruit and nut snacks; Cliff Shot Blocks
You can buy bags of mochi, which come in individually wrapped servings, from Lawsons or Family Mart. I found the dried fruit and nut treats at the BX recently, but unfortunately I haven't seen them on the shelves since they sold out (you can easily substitute with a bag of trail mix); Clif Shot Blocks come in various flavors, and some have a higher sodium and/or caffeine content than others (you can find these at Gunners Gym on Foster, or order them by the box from
  • I also enjoy eating salted peanut butter pretzels, and during our ultra-training I occasionally took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with me (Kathleen Lennard enjoyed stopping at a Lawsons or Family Mart and buying an onigiri (Japanese rice ball)
  • For electrolyte and endurolyte replenishment I have used the following products and like them all:
Nuun Electrolyte tablets
Hammer Endurolyte Fizz Tablets
Hammer Endurolyte Capsules

The Nuun tablets dissolve in water and are a light, zero sugar, easy-to-drink electrolyte supplement with lots of different flavors (you can buy these from; I used the Hammer endurolyte products when we were training for the ultra earlier this year, but they are especially useful during the summer months too when you want to ensure that you are getting a sufficient amount of electrolyte replacement (including sodium and potassium).The capsules are okay, but I prefer the fizz tablets that dissolve in water, especially the peach and mango flavors. Go to to order these.
  • For recovery I usually use Hammer Recoverite, although I sometimes drink plain chocolate milk. Andrea enjoys the occasional protein smoothie from Risner Fitness Center, or her own smoothies made at home using a store-bought whey protein powder (Foster PX and Gunners Gym both have a variety of protein powders available).
Hammer Recoverite - great for speeding up recovery after a long run
  • A few more final tips: 
    • I always carry a small ziploc bag with both Japanese and American coins; I like to have the option to stop at a vending machine and buy more water, or an electrolyte drink if I run low.
    • I tend to eat more frequently now than I did before; I used to wait too long to refuel my body on long runs and the result was not pleasant. Now I make a conscious effort to reach for my snacks and eat every 45 minutes or so (not too much, maybe a couple of Cliff Shot Blocks, or two mochi treats, for example). More advanced runners can make do on a lot less energy consumption, but this is what seems to work best for me.
    • For those of you who sometimes feel nauseous while running, ginger chews might help. I have ordered mine in the past from (this online store also offers some other great nutrition products, as well as running apparel and accessories)
Gin Gins Boost Ginger Candy
I hope this helps those of you who are uncertain of what to eat and drink on those long runs, and remember, a golden rule of thumb is to NEVER try anything new on race day!

Recipe for Almond Butter Crispy No-Bake Energy Balls:

1/2 cup almond butter (if unavailable, you can also use Sunbutter)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Add and stir gently:
2 cups gluten-free crispy rice cereal

Place a dish of water near the cereal mixture bowl. Form the mixture into truffle-size balls, using wet hands. Roll in sunflower seeds and place on a wax paper. Chill and store in the refrigerator. 


    1. Great article! Nutrition is the most individual thing about distance running--everyone needs to find their balance by experimentation but NOT on race day! Another liquid nutrition option is Infinit--you can customize your blend of carbs, protein, electrolytes, etc.

    2. I love Infinit. Since I am drinking my nutrition with my water, It is one less thing that I have to think about. Stinger chews are delicious. Chunks of baked sweet potato (or regular potato) with a little bit of salt is surprisingly good on long runs.

    3. Wow! This was a wealth of information! Thank you. I really like the NUUN tabs as well and I have been putting them in my camelbak water on my long runs - so I am replenishing as I go. It has helped me from getting headaches during and after runs. I'm planning on trying more of the Hammer Nutrition - placing an order this week!