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Switching Fueling Strategies Close to Race Day


Today’s question is about how long it takes the body to get used to a new fueling strategy. If your race is day is approaching, is there enough time to make the switch?

We are answering one question per day sent in by subscribers to the MTA email newsletter. The questions are about weight loss, fueling, and nutrition for runners.


Switching Fueling Strategies

Hi Angie So I know you should practice your race nutrition during training – I do this with gels and I’m now 4 weeks out from my marathon and I find it hard to take them on board. I just don’t like them anymore. I’ll stick with them as I’m not switching strategy at this stage. My question is, how long does it take to work a different nutrition plan into your marathon training? Many thanks! -Orla

That’s a great question Orla!

The time to work into another fueling strategy will vary depending on how sensitive your GI system is.

I was similar to you and primarily used gels for the first 3-4 years of running marathons. But then my body started rebelling and I couldn’t take any more gels after mile 16 without feeling like I was going to vomit.

I suffered through a couple marathons like that until I’d had enough. We’d heard about a new fuel called Generation UCAN and in desperation I tried it out at the Tupelo Marathon in Mississippi.

It wasn’t the ideal time to be using a new fuel but I figured the alternative was feeling like I was going to throw up the last 10 miles of the race. I used it during that marathon and haven’t looked back.

I’m not necessarily recommending that strategy (switching so close to a race) but since I was an experience marathoner and didn’t feel like I had much to lose it worked for me.

Typically I’d recommend that you use a new fueling strategy for at least two long runs (of 16 miles or more) before using it for a marathon. That way you know how palatable it is, how often you should take it, and if it will cause any GI distress.

I hope this helps!

You can here Angie answer this question and others on the Fueling Episode of the Marathon Training Academy podcast.

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