Many runners use some sort of sport nutrition during races to replenish the body of nutrients lost and to not deplete the body of energy. aka ‘bonking’
I won’t get into the science of sport’s nutrition during a race, other than to say, if you are running over 90 minutes, I would suspect you require something to help power your performance. I’ve read multiple articles of varying responses in regards to what to do, versus what not to do and perhaps there is a tried and true science to sports nutrition on a race course. I’ll leave that to the experts and the elite runners out there to dismantle and figure out. For most of us though, I really think it’s up to the individual on how and when they consume nutrition on the course. In other words, know your body! The most important factor when using nutrition is to always test it out multiple times during training runs to make sure it agrees with you and any other nutrition you are consuming at the same time. This includes other sports drinks, gels, bars, food, and/or gummy type nutritional candy. I’ve done multiple training runs with different gels, liquids of varying brands, and they all seem to affect me differently in terms of stomach agreeableness.
I’ve used GU primarily during my training and races to replace the carbs and sometimes have a bottle or two of Ultima sport drink for the electrolytes. I will say, I’m not a huge fan of the texture of eating gel but it’s the easiest for me to carry on a run. I tend to load the packet in my mouth, and let it sit there for a few seconds before swallowing it down. Of course, a chaser of water follows this. Water is very important to take after a gel to ensure it dilutes in one’s system and has proper absorption for maximum benefit. Also, not to upset the stomach. I’ve settled on Tri-Berry as my choice of flavour and Lemon Lime as my backup plan if the Tri isn’t available. There are other flavours of course, with or without the option of caffeine and other brands also increase potassium or sodium levels as well, but I’ve pretty much settled on those two flavours as my ‘go to’ gels.
Another key to using gels is timing. While one may not require the gel until you’ve run your 90 minutes of exercise, you should be ingesting it well before the 90-minute mark. My preference is to take my gel around the hour mark, and then replenish after every 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how long I’ll be running. Of course, this is one’s personal preference.
There are so many products out there to sample and yes, they do help a runner’s performance. The key to using them is really through trial and error. Experiment, experiment, experiment! Compare brands, and find your best source for your optimal performance.
What sports nutrition do you like while running? How often do you take it? Do you mix sport drinks with other race nutrition during your runs?