How to fuel for a marathon (how I fueled for my marathon)

January 31, 2014

I'm no pro when it comes to running and fueling but fueling for a marathon isn't too hard to figure out. I read a lot of tips on other blogs and Google for the best fuel to take, how often to take it, and other ideas for fueling. The hard thing is trying to focus on running the miles while watching your pace and fumbling around your fuel belt for the certain gu chomps you brought along. While I don't know the perfect race fueling, I know what worked for me which I hope helps anyone beginning to train for a race.

Before the race I sipped on water. It was a humid morning in which I wanted to hydrate before I began running since it was supposed to warm up so much later on. The course had water and gatorade stations almost every mile. They were both available to pick from. I switched on and off every mile. If I drank water at the first station then I grabbed a cup of gatorade at the next one. After a few hours of running when temperatures reached 87 degrees, I took water more often to not dehydrate. 

I have been running with Gu for years now. It has always worked for me. I use it in training runs and in races. It's really a preference for what works for you. I know there are numerous other kinds out there such as Hammer gels, Clif shot blocks, sports beans, etc. I have tried other brands but they were not as good or didn't work right. 

Here is the breakdown:

Miles 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24 - I took one Gu chomp every four miles. I took two packets of chomps with me but had some left over. Each packet contains 8 chomps which says that will fuel between 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours worth of running. If I felt I needed more (hunger or running low on energy) I would take another or take a Gu gel. 

Mile 17, 20, 23- One of my friends ended up running a marathon a couple weeks before I did. She suggested I buy salt tablets to help against leg cramping since she cramped up during her race. I found them at the expo. My dad told me to begin taking them at mile 17 even if I didn't feel that I needed them because it would help later on if something were to happen. I took one every three miles towards the end and never cramped. 

Different races call for different types of fueling. During a half marathon I would only take two to four chomps. During my most recent half I only took two. For my next race/ long training run I am thinking I will either run without anything or try a different brand since Gu chomps and I aren't getting along too well.. but I don't have another race for a couple more weeks. 

What works for you?


  1. As I get ready to tackle my first marathon training, I will have to come back to this post and reread it! Definitely something that has been on my mind!

    1. You will LOVE marathon training!! It is challenging but so rewarding. I can't wait to follow along your posts!


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