Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fueling for this Marathon I keep forgetting I'm running......

[Stock warning about how this will be a seriously nerdy post that is mainly me just talking to myself about carbs so that I know I've actually thought about it at some point & wrote it down somewhere that I can potentially locate on Feb. 28 when I have to drop off my bottles.]

March 1 is Napa Valley Marathon, & for all that I'm not "race"-racing it, I am planning on some kind of fueling situation because I see no reason to make things more unpleasant than they are already likely to be. I've been doing the "train low" part pretty faithfully, so I suppose now it's time to "[fake-]race high."

Last summer when I was training for Santa Rosa, I did most of my long runs on 50-60g CHO per hour, which seemed to work out fine, & that was what I did for the 14.5 miles of the race that I ran. At 8:05-8:10ish pace, that worked out to one gel roughly every 3-4 miles plus a cup of Gatorade at every aid station. I'm totally content to stick with that timing; what makes it slightly trickier is that I'm not planning on running at a specific pace, so it's harder to plan around aid stations.

Something unique about NVM is that you're allowed to drop your own bottles of whatever you want at whichever aid stations you want. According to the course map, there are aid stations more or less at miles 2.5, 4.5, 6.5, 9.3, 11.8, 14, 16, 18.5, 20.8, 22.2, & 24.5.

I might change my mind but right now I'm leaning towards wearing my watch for the data but either covering it completely or setting it up to show only heart rate & distance & maybe time of day. Pace-wise I feel like it makes the most sense to start out at an easy long run pace, then gradually speed up to whatever still feels reasonably comfortable, and if that goes well see if maybe I've got some 8:00 miles left in me for the end. No idea how this will work out in terms of finish time, but let's say maybe it goes something like this:

  • Hour 1 - 10:00/mile (6 miles)
  • Hour 2 - 9:30/mile (6.4 miles)
  • Hour 3 - 9:00/mile (6.7 miles)
  • Hour 4 - 8:15/mile (7.1 miles)

So that would put me finishing roughly around four hours. I'm not wedded to sticking to those exact numbers; all I really need to do is get a sense of roughly when I'll be hitting which aid stations, and I feel like it's probably reasonable enough for that. So then, fueling maybe looks something like...

    Pre-race: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g
    Mile 2.5: 6 oz Gatorade -> 12 g
    Mile 3: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g
    Mile 4.5: 6 oz Gatorade -> 12 g

    ***Hour 1 = 60g***

    Mile 6: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g
    Mile 6.5: 6 oz Gatorade -> 12 g
    Mile 9.3: water
    Mile 9.5: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g
    Mile 11.8: 6 oz Gatorade -> 12 g

    ***Hour 2 = 60g***

    Mile 13: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g
    Mile 14: 6 oz Gatorade -> 12 g
    Mile 16: water
    Mile 17: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g
    Mile 18.5: 6 oz Gatorade -> 12 g

    ***Hour 3 = 60g***

    Mile 20.8: water
    Mile 21: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g
    Mile 22.2: 6 oz Gatorade -> 12 g
    Mile 24.5: water
    Mile 25: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g

    ***Hour 4 = 48g***

    ***Total = 228g***

Here is what I like about this plan:

  • It gives me the option of getting my best-case-scenario 60g of CHO per hour if I want it & am tolerating it well. (Since I won't actually be running marathon pace, at least not until the end, this shouldn't be a problem.)
  • If I get the sugar stomach or start not tolerating it so well, I can sip as little as I feel like & ditch the rest, or just skip a bottle altogether & grab a cup of water instead.
  • If you have a small bottle you can carry with you for a quarter-to-a third of a mile or so, six ounces of liquid is a reasonable amount to finish without getting a sloshy belly (basically the equivalent of two little paper cups).

Also, I found these convenient little eight-ounce bottles on Amazon, which handily come in packs of four:

Realistically, I will probably just carry nine or ten gels & pop one before the race plus one every half hour-ish (plus one to spare), & grab my bottles at those eight stations whenever I happen to get to them. That seems like not a disaster waiting to happen, which is really kind of all I'm asking of this race.


  1. I was reading somewhere recently that the runners who go into a marathon with a fuelling plan and stick to it generally run faster (according to their ability of course). I know that you're not planning on a PR but I'm pretty sure your plan will have you running comfortably (as much as one can run a marathon comfortably) for the 26.2.

  2. So I've always wondered how it works when you can leave bottles at aid stations. How long does it take to get the bottle, are they just sitting out? Or does a volunteer have to locate them by bib #? I've obviously never tried this method and was just curious if it's efficient. Thanks and good luck! I have several friends running Napa and can't wait to see how everyone does.

  3. That's about twice the carbs I usually take in for a marathon...wonder if that's why I'm bonking, lol?! But then, going by carbs per hour, I'm not terribly far off - at least in intent/plan. I usually aim for 4 gels in a race, but I can't really finish the whole gel, even splitting it in half. I'm kind of gagging just thinking about it.

  4. Can't believe your (fake, but very real) marathon is coming up so soon! I have a feeling that you're going to exceed your expectations on race day. You're going in pretty much healthy, not burned out, and with a fueling plan set. I hope you have a great race on Sunday!