Fuelling - General

To get the most out of every run, whether training or racing, it is worth spending a bit of time thinking about your fuelling.

Points I would like to highlight are:

  • Increase your carbohydrate intake before a high intensity session, eg Wednesday night club training. At higher training intensity levels you are burning more carbohydrate. No need for extra carbohydrate for short / low intensity of 30/40mins.

  • For longer and lower intensity sessions such as a 90 min+ run or 2-3 hr+ cycle ride, it’s not necessary to increase carbohydrate usage.

  • Recovery fuel is vital following harder/longer/high intensity workouts. Have something high carbohydrate immediately if possible, then follow up within two hours with a good 3:1 carbohydrate:protein balanced meal. Recovery fuel is not necessary for a low intensity workout and just adds unnecessary calories to your diet.


When considering how to “fuel” yourself during a run, think carefully about what energy system you’re using and what source of fuel your body is burning. As briefly mentioned above, when running at high intensity you are burning a higher percentage of carbohydrate. When running at low intensity, ie a long, slow training run, you are burning a higher percentage of fat.

The average person has enough carbohydrate stored as glycogen in the liver & muscles to last for around for 90 -120minutes. At long / slow training run pace, your stored carbohydrate and fat may be contributing more or less equally to your body’s fuelling. Putting it very simply, this will mean that your carbohydrate stores will last longer than you think and you don’t necessarily need to be pumping additional fuel into your body when it doesn’t need it.


Even the slimmest of slim people has abundant fat stores but our bodies aren’t so good at utilising this fuel source. Being able to utilise your fat stores can / may delay the onset of carbohydrate depletion on a longer run. You can improve your fat utilisation in a number of ways. In the “Marathon Specific Nutrition” section you will find links to some articles which will provide you with food for thought and a starting point for your own further research.


uCoach is an online resource for athletic coaches in the UK. Below is a link to the uCoach article “Eat & Drink Like a Champion”. It is pretty basic stuff and covers athletics in general not just running. Chapter 7 may be useful reading on the subject of fuelling.

Read the full article – Click Here