Trail & Ultra Running Forums Index
How To Ultra
Joined: 05 Jul 2008
New Jersey, United States
Posted: Sat 05 Jul 2008 01:57 am GMT
I just began running 4 years ago, have yet to race, but am training with that as a goal. Informally, I have run up to six hours and estimate the distance to be 32 miles--all on trails. I train on my own, based on what I have read in ultra running mags or from online forums.
However, one issue for which I have never gotten a consensus answer--for long runs--2 hours and up--when do I stop drinking just water and switch to electrolyte replacement drinks and begin using carb replacements like Power Gels? Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks...
Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Virginia, United States
Posted: Sat 05 Jul 2008 02:38 am GMT
I stick with water throughout, and get electrolytes from Succeed electrolyte capsules. This way I'm not drinking a lot of fructose or some other sugared drink which upsets my stomach. There are several electrolyte replacement options on the market these days (Nuun, Hammer Nutrition's, etc.,). You may need to try a couple to see what works best for you. I've taken the Succeed brand for years with great results (no stomach upset, no muscle cramping).
As for gels (or just some sort of regular food, if you're at an ultra aid station), i start gels at about one hour in, and then try to eat a gel or a little food every 30-45 minutes.
Good luck with your running! Sounds like you're on the right track--
[edited: Sat 05 Jul 2008 02:39 am]
Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Utah, United States
Posted: Mon 07 Jul 2008 08:35 pm GMT
I think you've never gotten a consistent answer because there is no perfectly right answer - what works varies from person to person. But general guidelines are of course useful ... and I'm sure that's what you're after.
Regarding electrolytes, I read an article some time ago in either Runner's World or Trail Runner than recommended consuming electrolytes starting at around one hour -- and if you sweat heavily, then start sooner. One tell-tale sign of lost electrolytes and heavy sweating is if you start accumulating salt residue on your skin. Don't hold me to the one hour thing - it could have been 45 - 90 minutes. Actually don't hold me to anything I say -- this isn't medical advice :-) What I got out of the article was the importance of electrolyte replacement a lot sooner than most runners do it.
As for me, on runs longer than about an hour, I drink PowerAid and take Hammer Endurolytes roughly every hour and it has pretty much eliminated cramps. PowerAid seems to help me maintain energy levels for longer as well. I often dilute PowerAid with half water, just so it isn't so sweet.
I eat energy gel (GU usually) starting after the first hour simply because that's usually when I start to feel low on energy. I try to eat again immediately after the slightest tinge of energy dip or hunger -- though that's probably too late. I do know that for really long runs it's best to eat energy foods soon, and consistently, to stay ahead of the curve (consistent energy). What that exact curve is, I still believe, depends on the person but it certainly helps to get ideas from others so you know where to start experimenting.
Joined: 23 Jul 2008
Colorado, United States
Posted: Wed 06 Aug 2008 02:39 am GMT
I've been trying to figure out a system for hydration and fueling this summer, and I seem to do well with the following. I keep electrolyte drink in my handheld, and carry a 1.5 L camelbak with just water. I eat every 30 minutes--I'm pretty militant about this, and since I started, I don't bonk, feel sick, or anything like that. I usually eat shot bloks, half a package after the 1st 30 mins, the rest at 60 mins, then at 90 mins I eat real food (salted nuts, lara bar, whatever I'm craving), and then start the cycle again with the shot bloks at 120 mins. I've started carrying iodine to refill my handheld, and extra electrolyte drink to mask the taste.
In general, though, the rule of thumb I've heard is 100-200 calories per hour, at least.
Joined: 10 Jan 2007
Colorado, United States
Posted: Sun 26 Oct 2008 03:51 pm GMT
I've read that the body in extreme excercise burns around 600 calories an hour but only absorbs in the 280=/- calories an hour. So it is important to continue to shovel food & hydration down, which after a couple hours of gels & such your mouth(dry & tacky & nothing really tastes that good) & your stomach, since your body has pulled most of the blood to your legs, has no real sense of hunger or need. Try to train with some real foods
like pb sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, granola, fig newtons as well as your usual fare.
My biggest problem was I train alone & got into a run with 400 runners. I got into conversation with everyone around me & after a couple of hours realized I had not eaten or drank enough.......it was not a pretty site! All the knowledge is useless without the forget to use it! Jeff
Joined: 15 Nov 2013
California, United States
Posted: Fri 15 Nov 2013 04:20 pm GMT
In general you want to start consuming carbs, water, and electrolytes as soon as you start running, because you're body can't utilize carbohydrates as fast as your are burning them. On average the body can only utilize about 1 gram of carbohydrate per minute while running (more or less depending on the person). There's a great article on carbohydrate loading here:
And you can make your own carbohydrate/electrolyte drink that supplies everything you need with this recipe:
Joined: 15 Sep 2006
Utah, United States
Posted: Mon 13 Jan 2014 08:36 pm GMT
markedjar, your electrolyte drink sounds interesting. I'll have to try it.
ALTRjeff had some great ideas for food. As I have mentioned in several other posts, I am training for my first 50 mile trail race. My body doesn't do well with sugar, so I try to stay away from it. It is for some reason ok with have up to about 3 gels, but that is it. I really prefer real food. Do any of you have suggestions? I was thinking boiled and salted potatoes sound good. Last week I tried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (with sugar) because I know they will have that at the race, but my body did not feel well. I was too jittery and my head started hurting.