The first couple of times you go running, chances are that eating is going to be the absolute last thing on your mind. Instead your more likely to be focusing on how your previously flat neighbourhood all of a sudden feels rather hilly and that your probably didn't need quite so many layers. As time goes on and the those short runs start becoming longer runs, you need to start thinking about fuelling a little more carefully.
However as you start getting more comfortable on your feet and upping the distance, eating mid run is going to go from the last thing on your mind to an absolute must.
When it comes to fuelling a run there are three stages,
As we've written plenty about what to eat before and after a run before, links above for those, we are going to focus on how to start refuelling mid run.
Your training is about more than just making you a fitter runner (which is still super important), but it also allows you to discover what works for you. So that when you finally stand on that start line you know exactly what foods/shoes/socks etc work for you and when.
When it comes to picking what to refuel with it's all about finding something that always tastes good, is easy to eat on the move and makes you feel good afterwards?
If you only take one piece of advice from this, let it be this - Your running fuel is only as good as how tasty it is. Seriously. It doesn't matter how many carbs or calories something might have in it, if it tastes so bad that you can't bear to eat it then it is absolutely no good to you. Only pick fuel that not only tastes good but is just as appealing at mile five as it is at mile twenty five.
There are few things in this world that I love as much as granola, I'd eat a big bowl of the stuff topped with milk for three meals a day if I could and you know what sometimes I do. Despite this love though I will never try to eat Granola on a run because it is just insanely impractical. The same goes for the likes of pizza, noodle soup and ice cream, they might all taste great but they aren't practical to eat on the move.
The reason we eat on a run is to allow ourselves to keep going further/faster and you can only do that if you aren't left doubled over by the side of the trail or searching for the nearest portaloo. Trial different foods and products and see what works best for you, everyone is different and what will allow one person to thrive will ruin others day.
Working out exactly how much you need to eat and when is more of an art than a exact science. Everything including your body weight, the speed you are going, the terrain and the temperature can affect how many calories you need to consume. But don't let that put you off, instead for every run over 75 minutes start with this simple formula.
Bodyweight in Kilos X 0.75 = grams of carbohydrates per hour
So if you weigh 80kg, take on 60g of carbs an hour, if you weigh 55kgs, take 40g of carbs etc. Then if you know you are going to be running up brutal hills all day add a little bit and if you feel overfaced eat a little less. It's that simple.
In reality this might look like, a good breakfast or meal pre run, just water for the first 45 minutes to an hour and then two mini flapjacks an hour (for a 55kg runner) for every hour after that.