5 Ways to Rethink Fuel

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I am the person who gained weight training for my first half marathon, which is ironic, considering that part of why I started to run was that I though it would be helpful with those last few pounds — only to have it pile on even more pounds — in the beginning.

Of course I had to relearn my lesson training for my first race longer than a half, too. I’m not 100% sure why I gained a few pounds — I mean, I was running the most weekly mileage of my life! Surely I could maintain my weight. Right? Right?

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy and sharing five ways to look a little differently on how you fuel your runs.

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You don’t always need it
You’ve looked at the gels, right? Most of them say right on them “take one 15 minutes before exercise and every 45 minutes during”.

I’m one of those weirdos that actually like GUs. The taste, anyway, I don’t use GUs in my races (or on long runs) anymore. But I sure took that to heart.

Guess what? For runs under an hour you don’t need a GU. Not before, during, or after. I learned that the hard way. Some people eat nothing unless it’s double digits. I’ve done runs as long as 8 miles with no fuel during.

Like most things with running, you have to play around with it and find what works for you.

I like Honeystinger Chews partially because I can take one every mile

It doesn’t have to be gels 
I don’t use gels. Or sport beans. Or blocks.

I have played around with various real food options, but what I’ve found to work for me is Honeystinger Chews (I’m a Honeystinger Ambassador) + home made (very plain) chocolate chip cookies from the Feedzone Portables book (Amazon Affiliate link).

Other options:

  • Fig Newtons
  • Pretzels
  • According to my coach, Rachel @ Runningonhappy, Payday candy (I need to get some!)
  • Applesauce
  • Raisins

Not every run deserves a treat
I think this may have been what got me training for the 1812 Challenge. Of course I didn’t treat myself after every run, but I was running a lot more and I thought I could get away with more sugar than normal.

Some people can. Genetically gifted people. Younger people. If you find the scale going in the wrong direction or your clothes getting tighter, take a look at how often you’re treating yourself.

A fasted run can be a good run
I will admit it right here, right now: not a super fan of the fasted run (where you run early and don’t eat anything before the run). I always feel as though I run out of gas. And the supposed fat burning benefit? The juries still out on that one.

This summer forced me to get out there earlier than normal, and there were a few fasted runs here and there. I survived. Some people, especially people with stomach issues, really benefit from the fasted run.

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And who doesn’t want a cookie while running?

Think IV, not shot
Years ago I attended a talk by a sports nutritionist. She suggested that taking a gel every 45 minutes was much more likely to lead to stomach upset and also uneven energy on the run.

She said that it was better to take in a little bit more frequently, like an IV drip. I changed how I fueled on long runs and haven’t looked back. It’s part of why I ditched the gels altogether.

I take one Honeystinger Chew or a few bites of my cookie every mile.

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

Are you true to GU?

Do you actually like fasted runs?

Favorite real food running fuel?

What is this rolling out of bed . . .

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. . .  that you speak of?

I have to admit that sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just roll out of my bed and do a half marathon. Would you believe I never have? The longest race I’ve ever done at home is a 15k.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy with five reasons you should get out of your comfort zone and consider a racecation, too.

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Bust the boredom
Maybe you’re blessed to live in an area with miles of trails outside your door. While there are many lovely places to run where I live, most require a drive. Often I don’t have the time. So I run around the same neighborhood I walk the dogs around every day — a lot. And tend to stick to about two to four different paved paths to do long runs. It gets old — really, really old.

Enjoy new weather
NOLA at the end of an upstate New York winter? Yes, please! Utah or Idaho when we’re sweltering in the humidity and high dew points at home? Pretty please!

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We’re not in NY anymore, toto

Explore different views
I love the ocean, but it’s a long drive from here. We do have mountains, but they’re not quite the same as the Cascades or Rockies. We definitely don’t have a lot of cacti around here — you’ll only find that in someone’s house, not growing wild in our backyard like we did when we lived in TX.

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We didn’t see this during the race, but it wasn’t far away afterwards

Explore a new city
A long run through a new city is one of the best ways to explore it (maybe the best way is with a food tour — you know me, everything leads to food). Most of the time they close off the streets for you, feed you at the end, and provide beverages throughout. Plus the medal they hang around your neck when you finish.

Leave the stress at home
I won’t lie: prepping for a racecation, at least for me, is stressful. All the cleaning. Arranging for pet sitters. Prepping all the furkids’ stuff. Writing up a bunch of blogs in advance.

When I arrive in my new home away from home, though, I can breath a sigh of relief. I don’t have to walk dogs, scoop poop, scoop litter, constantly refill the water dish, clean, cook, do laundry, get out of bed early . . . I need that every once in a while to recharge my batteries!

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

Racecation or local race? Why?

What was your best racecation ever?

5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Running . . .

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. . . When You Start Running

Runners will tell you how great it feels. They’ll tell you the great people you’ll meet. They’ll tell you how wonderful it feels to train for and complete a race. Runners don’t usually give new runners the whole picture though!

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share with a few things that might surprise a new runner.

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All those skirts add up (but Code 522CRJ gets you 15% off of full priced items)

Running ain’t cheap
Even if you don’t race, you still need decent shoes (more than one pair a year) and decent clothes. It adds up quickly.

And if you race, those race fees can add up quickly, too!

You could gain weight even if you want to lose weight
Yes, running can be a great way to lose weight. It’s also very easy to overestimate how much you really need to eat to recover or reward yourself with more food than you burned off.

Even if you don’t gain weight . . .
. . . your clothes might actually feel a little tighter after a run or a race. You need carbs to fuel your runs. Unfortunately those carbs will also cause some water retention.

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The more the merrier (even in horrible weather!)

It’s much easier in a group
Running always feels easier when you run with someone — even when that someone is faster than you. Don’t be afraid to try out some running groups!

It doesn’t get easier . . .
. . . but you do get better.

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

What do you wish someone had told you about running before you started?

Did you start out in a group or on your own?

Do you feel you’ve become a better runner over the years?

5 Ways to Rebound from a Bad Run

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It happens to all runners: one day you have the most incredible long run, and it seems like the next day an easy run half the distance is kicking your booty.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share with you ways to come back stronger from a bad run.

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Analyze
Did you get enough rest? Forget your allergy meds? Did you fuel properly? Did you fuel properly after your last run? Were you properly hydrated? When was your last rest day, anyway? Was it an unusually hot/cold/snowy/windy/humid day? Did you adjust your pace for those conditions?

Forget the training plan
Chances are if all you do is run for fun, then you won’t be bothered by a bad run. Probably you’ll even cut it short and live to run another day.

If you’re deep into training for something, though, it might be time to forget the plan and just go out and run. Maybe naked — without a watch, that is.

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This run was so hard — going from the cold Northeast to hot & humid New Orleans. Ok, it wasn’t really a bad run, but it was definitely tough! But you know what? I rocked the race!

Take a look through your running journal
Of course you keep a running journal, right? It could be written. It could be your blog. It could be Facebook posts.

Look back through it. What happened the last time you had a run that sucked? Did all your subsequent runs suck? Did you decide this running thing just isn’t for you, that clearly you suck at it?

I’ll bet you’ll find the good runs outweigh the bad runs. Just accept that some runs are gonna suck and have faith your next one won’t.

Think about all the greats . . .
. . . who failed.

  • Disney was fired for “lack of imagination”.
  • Edison’s teacher said he was “too stupid to learn anything”.
  • JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter” was rejected by 12 publishers.
  • Babe Ruth, the home run king, struck out more than he hit homers.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team sophomore year.

They didn’t let adversity — or rejection — deter them from coming back stronger. You will, too.

Dangle a carrot
When all else fails, decide on something that really, really, really motivates you. Food. A new playlist. Some new running clothes. New kicks. Whatever will get you out there even though you know this running thing just sucks.

Humans are animals — and the more you reward animals for doing something, the more they will do it to try to get that reward. So reward yourself.

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

What do you do when your run sucks?

What other famous people do you admire who failed?

What’s your favorite “carrot” to dangle?

5 Ways to Know You’re a Runner

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You might be a runner if . . .

This post was inspired by Laurie @ Meditations in Motion’s post on Are You Really a Runner? (read it here). Maybe you can even read this post in five minutes (or perhaps a bit more) — and get a few laughs along the way, too.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share with you some ways you can tell you’re a “real” runner.

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I actually staged this it a bit, but it’s all usually hanging around!

Things are hanging . . .
. . . everywhere: socks, wet running clothes, hats, jackets, sport bags . . . you name it, it’s probably hanging somewhere (or multiple places) in your home.

You come home completely exhausted
Totally spent. Your job, your SO, your kids, your furkids, you name it, and they’ve drained every last ounce of life out of you.

So of course the first thing you do is lace up and go for a run.

You hesitate to buy yourself new clothes . . . 
. . . but you don’t blink an eye at shelling out $13 for one pair of socks.

You know the location of all the bathrooms
In the stores, in the parks, along the bike paths. You know where the porty potties are, too. And which ones are the “good” ones. You also know when the bathrooms are closed and when they’re open.

I am generally not prone to GI issues but it’s not unusual for me to need a pee break before or after a run, so yes, for the most part, I know these things.

Inaccurate weaather: one of my weather apps

You have multiple weather apps
You consult them hourly. They all say something different. They all change hourly. They’re all almost always wrong.

Seriously, what would we talk about if we weren’t complaining about the weather?

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

How many weather apps are on your phone (and is there an accurate one)?

What sports-related items are hanging around your home?

What would you add to my list?