How to Fuel for Those 'Long Sunday Runs'

Week 2 of Marathon Training has come to an end and I’m over the moon with how this week has gone. Due to completing my Long Run from Week 1 on Monday and with today’s 11 miles, I have been able to clock up 30 miles in total. Alongside the mega miles, I was 3rd lady at ParkRun on Saturday and feel like I’m really getting back into the swing of things.
Today I was back out with the Redway Runners and loved a part of the Sunday run crew. I think there was around 150 of us, with the majority of us all training towards a Spring Marathon.
Before we set off I was able to speak to the group about my new business venture ‘Clean Coach Katie’ and the Event I am hosting, (#FuelYourFitness) upcoming on Saturday 28th January in Milton Keynes.
Every runner I know that has a marathon to work towards, has a set training plan in place and knew exactly the mileage they were to complete on today, however, quite a few are unsure on their approach to nutrition and how to fuel correctly.
The influence behind today’s post comes straight from that, and my opinion on how to fuel correctly each week before a long Sunday run (LSR).
The work all begins on Saturday….
As the weekend arrives, so does a list of plans and errands to complete. An important thing which often gets neglected is hydration.
Make sure that you drink adequate water throughout the day, to ensure optimal performance on Sunday. A great trick is to carry a water bottle with you throughout the day so you know exactly how much you’re drinking
Saturday Evening (the night prior your long run)
On the evening before, it is not necessary to ‘carbo-load’. Eating a HUGE bowl of pasta will only leave you feeling sluggish.
I’m not encouraging that you don’t eat carbohydrates, as these are our body’s first source of fuel. Ensure you include a good carbohydrate source such as sweet potato or rice with a lean piece of protein such as chicken, turkey or steak, finished off with a side salad or vegetables. Limit the amount of fibrous vegetables you do have though, as fibre helps with digestion and you don’t want to experience any embarrassing moments during your run (aka Paula Radcliffe).
Try to get a good night’s sleep and avoid alcohol where possible.
Sunday Morning – Run Day!
Before a long run, you should aim to eat 1 – 2 hours beforehand. This allows the food to digest properly and allows time for your body to transport the nutrients to all the necessary areas.

Carbohydrates should make up the majority of this meal. I always opt for Porridge Oats mixed with Protein Powder for additional flavour made with Almond Milk.  Depending on what’s in the fridge/cupboard, I often top it with things like banana, berries, honey or peanut butter.
I have found that this works best for me and my stomach.
Other things that are good before runs could be:

  • 1 x Bagel with Jam or Peanut Butter
  • 2 x Slices of Toast with Scrambled Egg
  • Greek Yoghurt topped with Banana
  • Fruit Smoothie with Oats

The best thing to do is trial and error which works best for you and stick to this throughout the most of your training. As the saying goes, ‘If it works, don’t try to fix it’. Carry on with this breakfast all the way through to Race Day.
Alongside this I take a dissolvable Vitamin C tablet in water with a nice strong white coffee.
On goes my kit and I’m ready to go.
Pre Run Fuel
To fuel during runs, it is important to take on carbohydrates as our energy stores become depleted. Again, this is another trial and error job to find out which gels you like the most. Some have a thicker consistency than others and there are a variety of brands and flavours on the market.
I have sampled a fair few now and I hands down think the Science in Sport Blackcurrant gel is the absolute bomb!
Dependent on the mileage, influences how many I take out with me. Anything around 10 miles I take just one on a training run and then up to 2 – 3 when the mileage begins to creep up.
On Race Day I take more than in training runs as my pace is quicker and I’m using energy faster. My stomach can’t handle more than around 3 gels though, so after this I switch to jelly babies. They have a high sugar content so provide energy very quickly to the body and therefore are ideal for runners. They can also be easier for runners to digest and are quite an enjoyable thing to eat during those painful miles at the end.
I often buy a bag before a run/race and carefully pick out the red ones as they are my favourite!
Post Run  
I often find, that like today, I am not hungry once I’ve finished a long run.
However, during that run, we have stressed out our bodies and used up a lot of energy and sweated out a lot of sodium.
If I am prepared and today I was J I will have a pre-made hydration drink in my bag. Again I use Science in Sport for these, at the moment I have Berry flavour, which I got brought for Christmas, alongside a Protein Shake.
Most people would associate Protein Shakes with people that go to the gym. But this to me, is a great way to help repair my muscles from the strain they’ve just been under. It will help to build and grow these muscles to ensure they are strong and can also help to reduce the dreaded DOMS effect. (Stretching is also very vital in preventing the Monday pain!)
They have straight after training if you’re not hungry yet and also helps out to rehydrate (if taken with water).
Once I have got home and showered, then comes brunch 🙂
Again, another balanced meal of Protein, Carbs and Fats is essential here and on today’s menu was scrambled egg on toast, with avocado and tomatoes.

Sunday Afternoon
Long runs often lead to feeling very hungry! But don’t let thirst lead you to think that you’re hungry. Before you reach for the biscuit tin or stand in front of the fridge hoping for something to jump out at you, grab yourself a glass of water and reassess the situation.
Sunday’s also often mean Roast Dinners and today we had exactly that. Luckily I also had this one cooked for me and was ecstatic to be tucking into a big plate of gammon, potatoes and veg. (Can you spot the three portions of potatoes on my plate? Yes, Barry’s Mum is Irish!)
Sunday Evening
Sunday evening should be spent:

  • On the sofa with your feet up and slippers on
  • Bragging on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Strava how many miles you ran today
  • And a big smile on your face knowing that you’ve fuelled well and look forward to what next week’s training has in store!

Hope you’ve taken some good information from this post to help you fuel those long runs next week.