Signing up for a half marathon is an exciting prospect, but takes a lot of thought, preparation, and training.
However, if you’ve never run a half marathon before, you might be curious to know: Do I need to fuel during a half marathon?
In this article, I will cover some key information about nutrition preparation for a half marathon, including whether you need to fuel during a half marathon.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Do I Need To Fuel During A Half Marathon?
The short answer to this question is yes, you need to fuel during a half marathon.
When taking on any exercise challenge, it’s important to be prepared as you can be.
So, why is it important to fuel during a half marathon? The majority of people can get through a 5km run without any extra fuel, gels, or sports drinks.
However, when it comes to longer races, ensuring you have the fuel required to complete the race is especially important for runs and races that last for over 60 minutes.
Bearing this in mind, unless you are a very fast runner, you will need to fuel during your half marathon to ensure that you can complete the race.
As a runner, it is likely that you will already have preferences in terms of fueling from past experiences. For instance, some runners prefer to refuel on a little and often basis every 15 minutes, whereas others prefer to refuel every 30 to 45 minutes.
Typically speaking, your body can store around 2000 calories worth of glucose. When you decide to fuel depends on you and what makes you feel the best, but it’s essential that your body has the energy that it needs to carry you through the race.
While it’s good to try to aim for 100 to 150 calories per hour, this will depend on factors such as your muscle mass, weight, speed, and pace.
What Should You Bring As Fuel?
All runners have their own preferences on what they like to fuel their body with. However, you should definitely include running gels, bars, and sports drinks in the list of food items you bring.
Although there are water stations to keep you hydrated, for the most part, whatever fuel you bring with you you’re going to have to carry with you.
Bearing this in mind, you don’t want to be weighed down by an unnecessary amount of gels and bars that you’re not going to need.
Whatever fuel you bring, striking the balance is important to ensure that you aren’t over or underprepared.
It’s important to note that you don’t want to overdo it with the bars and gels, as you will have already eaten a meal before your race to ensure that you are prepared.
Bearing this in mind, make sure that you keep track of the time each time you refuel and only consume what you need to.
Trialing Fuel When Training For A Half Marathon
Training for your half marathon is a crucial time for testing out the half marathon race day fuel plan.
A lot of this will come down to trial and error, however, it’s important that you work out how much fuel and liquids you’ll need before race day so that you are as prepared for the half marathon as you can be.
Testing this out during your training gives you time and experience to iron out any niggles in your fuel plan. For instance, if you end your half marathon with multiple gels, then you will know that you won’t need that many on race day.
When it comes to running a half marathon in a race, there will be water stations along the track. However, there won’t be when it comes to training, so you will also need to consider how you are going to rehydrate.
This could involve having a family member standing somewhere along the track that you’re running, or could involve you carefully placing water bottles along the track.
However, the latter option requires some forethought, as you will need to carefully calculate the time that you think you will need to rehydrate.
Figuring out your race day fuel plan through trial and error in training is the only way to ensure you are as prepared as you can be for the race.
Make sure that you stay in tune with how you are feeling after your training to determine whether you need more or less fuel throughout your half marathon.
If you end a half marathon feeling like you pushed it too hard, then you will know for your next training session that you will require more fuel than you had originally planned for the race.
Alternatively, if you feel like you could have gone without fuel for longer than you did, you will have a better idea of how long you should wait before you next refuel on your half marathon. It is this trial and error that is vital to your success.
What Should You Eat Beforehand?
Eating a high carb and a low or fat free meal before your race is important, as you want to ensure that your body is able to use the carbs for energy as opposed to fat.
Simple ideas for breakfast include porridge and fruits such as bananas, as this will provide you with slow-releasing energy and sustained energy. This will give you the best starting point for your race before you need to fuel again!
Other options that are high carb include granola or muesli, as well as toast or bagels.
Make sure that whatever high carb breakfast you choose, that you are staying well hydrated as well.
There will be water stations along the track when you’re running a race, but to ensure that you’re in the best stead possible for the starting line you won’t want to start a race dehydrated.
Yes, you should fuel during a half marathon. Any race that is over 60 minutes long requires you to fuel up.
You will need to make sure that you trial what works best for you in terms of fueling and rehydrating when you are training for your half marathon to ensure that you are prepared for race day.
Good luck with your training and with your half marathon!