I ALWAYS seem to have random questions to ask a running coach. Thankfully, I have Laura who is always so happy to answer any of my questions with explanations that always make sense.
Last week I asked Laura to take two of my most recent running questions and expand the answers into a post that I could share with you today. I figured if I have these running questions, you may too and the answers may provide you with some insight to help you to become an even better runner.
The first question I asked Laura (a few times actually) was in regards to fueling during long runs. All of a sudden, somewhere in the last several months, I noticed that I completely stopped taking Hammer Gels with me as my long run fuel. In fact, I stopped taking any form of fuel with me for long runs completely. It’s like one day I just woke up and realized I didn’t feel that I needed anything beyond my pre-run meal. I used to be so religious with taking in fuel at the hour mark of a long run. But now, I just don’t feel as though I need it and I wondered why/how that happened.
Do I need to consume fuel during a long run?
Meredith posed this scenario to me a few months ago. She no longer feels that she needs a gel on her easy-paced long runs (~90 minutes to 2 hours in duration).
In the scenario of an easy weekend long run under 2 hours long, experienced runners do not need to take fuel. Over time, your body adapts to running long distances and you become more efficient. Additionally, long distance running increases your body’s glycogen stores, meaning that well-trained distance runners can store more energy for running than novices. If you are eating well before the run, you may be able to run the distance on the energy from your meal plus stored glycogen. You are not running long enough or hard enough to completely burn through your glycogen stores. If you do feel like you should eat something, then definitely do!
If you do not eat before your run, you want to take fuel with you if you plan on running for longer than 75 minutes. If you are running for longer than 2 hours, you want to take fuel approximately every 45-60 minutes to avoid bonking or stressing your immune system.
If you do not want to take gel on a run but know you need the calories, try real food options. Real food tastes better than gels and you can easily customize the amount. You want to select carb-based easily-digestible foods such as applesauce, raisins, boiled potatoes, or dates.
My next question for Laura was about running at my 5K pace. I don’t like 5K races and I don’t love running super fast all that often. However, is training a bit at my 5K pace important for me as a runner? That’s what I wanted to know and figured maybe you did too.
Is it beneficial for long distance runners to train at their 5K pace?
Yes! Long distance runners usually prefer easy to moderate paced runs, but running near your VO2max (maximum aerobic capacity, which is slightly faster than 5K pace for most runners) has numerous benefits. Training at 5K pace will help improve your speed at any distance and improve your running economy – which has just as much impact on your next marathon or half marathon PR as your speed does.
Thankfully, you do not need to train often at 5K pace, nor do these training sessions require long durations of running at 5K pace. Interval training such as track workouts or fartlek runs are the best way to add 5K pace training to your running routine. The recovery intervals between each hard interval lets you run more volume at this pace. Keep the intervals short – 3-5 minutes is ideal, although you could do anywhere from ¼ mile to mile repeats depending on your level of fitness – and allow for ample recovery between each.
If you do two hard runs per week, make one of them a 5K-paced interval run and the other a tempo run. If you run one hard workout per week, you can make every hard workout an interval run during the off-season or alternate between intervals and tempo runs during race specific training.
If you have any running questions for Laura, feel free to ask in the comments! Or, as always, feel free to read her blog and contact her directly. Maybe we will do another post like this soon!
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Do you have any questions to ask a running coach? Ask away!
Do you take fuel with you on long runs? Which is your favorite?