Long runs: Energy, Hydration & Recovery

marathon map glasgowAre you running your first ever marathon in 2014? Or are you running a marathon in 2014 and you’d like to improve your performance from the last one?

If so, I was thinking now might be a good time for you to learn about nutrition, hydration and recovery for on the long runs. 🙂

In addition, you might like my two marathon training plans here:
Run Stronger Get Faster Marathon Plan – see plan 2.
VLM long run training plan – Long run plan only

Having energy on the long runs will prevent you from ‘hitting the wall’ and I’d like you never ever to ‘hit the wall’, so I was hoping I could guide you in how to fuel and hydrate yourself on the run.  I’ve never done it, but I know a friend who has, and it wasn’t pretty. If you fuel and hydrate properly, you won’t ever hit the walk.

For any run over an hour you now want to consider water and energy. Start to experiment now, and nail it for April. Water, energy and recovery are so important and if you don’t get them right, it might not be pretty.

pouring water from a bottleWATER / LIQUID
For any run over an hour and a half I take a water pack with me. Although you can leave water or lucozade somewhere on a route you are going to run the next day (in a bag, next to a bin). Or you can loop past your house or somewhere where your drink is.

Water will replace the water you’ve used on your run and prevent dehydration, whilst lucozade or other energy drinks should replace minerals as well, and provide energy.

I tend to find that lucozade tastes too sweet (even the lite one) and drink water, and take energy gels on my long runs. My water pack is a North Face one, and holds 2 litres and I sometimes use all of it on a marathon it very long run.

marathon 4 run clothesYou need to find out what suits you. Do the pee rest after a run, if it’s dark, you didn’t drink enough, or you need to drink more. If you get sore heads after runs (like I did after 10 miles on Saturday with no water except for the heavens opening), you need to drink more on the run.

The simplest energy for the long run are energy gels. I use the SIS berry / caffeine ones however I have dabbled with other SIS ones too. I tend to take about 1 every hour roughly. Again, this us something you should practice with. If you don’t like gels, then energy drinks are another option.

photo 2

When I use gels, I tend to warm them up in my hand, ie, run with one in my hand for half an hour. Then the consistency is more like water and easier to go down. It’s ok to walk when refueling, to make sure you do it right and to give yourself a well earned rest. (Especially in your training runs).

Other (less sugary) energy sources can be cheese, meat, eggs, bits. But if I’m honest, your body needs energy now when your running and that’s what the energy gels are designed to do. I’ve tried non sugary and sugary energy gels, and for the ease, ability to carry them and quickness of getting the energy, I think energy gels are the best. But feel free to experiment and ask others.


photo 31

Find out what works for you in terms of recovery after long runs. I used to have a chocolate (for goodness shakes milkshake), steak and veg (or chips), lots of water and lots of sleep (usually an afternoon nap). Listen to your body and take extra rest days if required.

They say you should take a day off for every mile you’ve run in an event – so after a half marathon, you shouldn’t do any planned training for around 13 days after it – to allow your body (and mind) to recover. For a marathon – 26 days to recover.  I know I usually take 4-5 days off running totally, then go back to doing what I fancy for about the time I’m meant to be recovering.  No training specific focus – just exercise with plenty of recovery.  But you’ll find out what works for you. 🙂


In the next few months, hopefully you’ll find out what will help you bounce back to normal after a three or four hour run.

Good books include,
The New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon nutrition by Matt Fitzgerald

Runnersworld complete guide to Nutrition

Athlete’s Guide to Recovery by Sage Rountree

Websites include,
My website: search on: recovery, energy gels, long run, hydration, marathon

sore legs after the Lochaber Marathon in 2011. ;-)

sore legs after my first Marathon in 2011. 😉

Take the next 6 months and beyond to learn what works for you.  Ask others what they do too, but try and experiment for yourself and find something that works for you. 🙂

This entry was posted in Marathon. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Long runs: Energy, Hydration & Recovery

  1. mgb1979 says:

    Very useful Lorn, thanks :]

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