1st Half Marathon -- how do you keep your energy up?

Running my first half at the end of the month! I've been following a 12 week training program and have gotten up to 8 miles, but felt very fatigued. Does anyone have any recommendations for shot bloks or gu that you like? I'm an amateur when it comes to this stuff. Thanks! :-)
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Replies

  • No, but I'd like to know as well :)
  • pittsblue99
    pittsblue99 Posts: 282 Member
    I did my first half in April so I know how you are feeling lol I personally did not use any GU or shot blocks or anything like that. I carried water with me and stopped at each of the water stops also so I stayed plenty hydrated (or at least the best I could). Make sure that you are not racing on an empty stomach - that was the big thing that every one told me. Good luck and you will have a blast!
  • aplus816
    aplus816 Posts: 5 Member
    I like the sports beans - they are like jelly beans. I found them at my local Target. I ate some around mile 8/9 during both half marathons I've done and found they gave me a good boost. I found them much easier to stomach than the gels. BUT make sure you try them (or anything else you are considering eating during the race) prior to race day.
  • danag1967
    danag1967 Posts: 14 Member
    I love the Honey Stinger blocks/gels. They are all organic and don't seem to mess with my tummy like some of the others do. I ran a half marathon on Saturday and for much of the last half of the race, I just stuck one gummy in the side of my cheek and sucked on it. Usually, I take 4 of the gummys around mile 5 or 6, then again around mile 9 or 10. Be sure to drink water instead of gatorade when you do the chews/gu/blocks. Gatorade at all the other stops, though. This will keep a steady stream of carbs and electrolytes in your system and avoid the hitting the wall feeling.
  • Strong cup of coffee beforehand... Then I usually eat a few Shot Bloks around the 6- or 7- and maybe 11-12ish-mile marks (basically every hour, I'm slow)... Some people who are better conditioned don't need any of that :) I live in a climate of extremely high humidity year round though so I get pooped earlier.

    I personally like Shot Bloks because they're caffeinated and I don't find the texture or taste too nauseating -- they're like firm fruit snacks. The gels gross me out but some people love them.

    The main thing is to start experimenting now while you have a decent amount of time before the race date.
  • SassyCalyGirl
    SassyCalyGirl Posts: 1,932 Member
    I am running my first half on June 2nd. Ran 12 miles on Saturday through my training program. I am using a "Rebuild Endurance" drink after my run and while I run I have Prolong powder in my water- it offers carbs-protein and electrolytes. I couldn't have done 12 miles without either. I have a protein/meal-replacement shake before I run as eating any solid foods before I run tends to bother my stomach.

    good luck to you.
  • Sarabeth5
    Sarabeth5 Posts: 134 Member
    I'm also running my first half this month. My longest run to date is 9.75. I've been trying different energy gels and whatnot to see what works and what I like. For example, I don't like the texture of the clif bloks, the power bar gummies are good and I like the texture but they didn't really give me any extra pep in my step. I really liked the Gu Roctaine... still have a couple more different things at home to try before I make my final race day decision... Good luck to you!
  • IronmanPanda
    IronmanPanda Posts: 2,083 Member
    My first question is what is your pace? How long would you estimate it to take to finish a 1/2?
    Use a few training runs to try things out. For your first maybe try taking in a gel around mile 6, and 9.
    If you find that is too much and your stomach rebels, then try less. If you find that you're still not feeling like you have enough energy it could be that your pace is too fast, or maybe you need to get some more calories in.

    My first 1/2 I used two gels and alternated between water and electrolytes at each aid station.
    My last 1/2 I didn't use any gels and didn't start taking in water until mile 6, and then only got water at every other aid station.
    The more you run and the more endurance you build, the less you'll find you need.
  • Trail_Addict
    Trail_Addict Posts: 1,370 Member
    My recipe-
    Carb-load the day before
    Eat a good breakfast of 4:1 carbs to protein- banana, white toast w/PB
    Take a gel 15 minutes before the start
    Take a gel at 45 minutes, and every 30 after that.
    Drink choco milk within 30 minutes of finishing to aid in recovery

    That's my formula.
  • I just did my 1st Half the weekend before last. If you want to use some sort of GU product, you need to start experimenting with it now. Don't do something new on race day. I did not use any as I don't like it.

    For me @ my race and all through my training, I found eating a healthy and filling dinner the night before helped as well as having the proper breakfast the morning of the race. You need to work this out ahead of time too. Get up on Saturday/Sunday at the time you will be up for your race. Eat what you want to eat on race day, see what happens... tweak the following week. For me, the magic potion was a banana, 1/2 cup of Bob's Red Mill Granola, 1/2 cup of Cheeriios and a diet pepsi. :) I also ate a banana the night before, immediately before bed. My night before dinner was Salmon and a baked potato. You don't really need to "carb load" for a half.
  • Carlton_Banks
    Carlton_Banks Posts: 757 Member
    I did my 1st Half in April. I maintained my energy throughout the run by going with a pace group, drinking a bit of Gatorade at every water station on the run, taking a GU pack at mile 8 or 9, and listening to my MP3 player. I also wore light clothing, a runner's cap, and some compression sleeves on my calves to avoid cramping, lactic acid buildup, and general fatigue. I hate wearing the compression sleeves, but after 10 miles of pounding the pavement I start to appreciate having them on to keep my legs strong. I ran with my pace group to finish at 1:50.

    Eat some pasta or something high in carbs for dinner the night before the race. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana nut muffin in the morning for breakfast. About 15 minutes before the run I drank a Gatorade Prime 01.
  • dane11235813
    dane11235813 Posts: 684 Member
    I did my 1st Half in April. I maintained my energy throughout the run by going with a pace group, drinking a bit of Gatorade at every water station on the run, taking a GU pack at mile 8 or 9, and listening to my MP3 player. I also wore light clothing, a runner's cap, and some compression sleeves on my calves to avoid cramping, lactic acid buildup, and general fatigue. I hate wearing the compression sleeves, but after 10 miles of pounding the pavement I start to appreciate having them on to keep my legs strong. I ran with my pace group to finish at 1:50.

    Eat some pasta or something high in carbs for dinner the night before the race. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana nut muffin in the morning for breakfast. About 15 minutes before the run I drank a Gatorade Prime 01.

    carlton....why do you say you 'hate wearing the compression sleeves'?
  • therealangd
    therealangd Posts: 1,862 Member
    I'm running a half in two weeks. Up to this point I've done a 19, 20 and 21km run. So almost all of it. I'll be running to finish in 2:30:00

    What has worked best for me is lots of carbs the day before. Coffee and immodium in the morning. Gatorade or water throughout the run. A gu at the one hour mark and a gu every half hour after that. Following that, I got through the entire run without bonking. I did have some cramping after I was done.
  • Carlton_Banks
    Carlton_Banks Posts: 757 Member
    I did my 1st Half in April. I maintained my energy throughout the run by going with a pace group, drinking a bit of Gatorade at every water station on the run, taking a GU pack at mile 8 or 9, and listening to my MP3 player. I also wore light clothing, a runner's cap, and some compression sleeves on my calves to avoid cramping, lactic acid buildup, and general fatigue. I hate wearing the compression sleeves, but after 10 miles of pounding the pavement I start to appreciate having them on to keep my legs strong. I ran with my pace group to finish at 1:50.

    Eat some pasta or something high in carbs for dinner the night before the race. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a banana nut muffin in the morning for breakfast. About 15 minutes before the run I drank a Gatorade Prime 01.

    carlton....why do you say you 'hate wearing the compression sleeves'?

    Hey Dane, I love wearing them for recovery purposes, but at the start of a run they just feel too tight and constraining. I bought the one's Crux recommended (CompresSport). My calves are big, so I got the T4 size (42-46cm). When I run more than 10 miles, they do start to feel pretty good to me. I should probably start working out in them more often, maybe I'll get more comfortable with wearing them.
  • LiveEnjoyEndure
    LiveEnjoyEndure Posts: 98 Member
    Most of the battle of running beyond 6-8 miles is psychological rather than physiological. You need to imagine yourself running strong, make a little video in your mind of your best run and how it felt when you were running well and then play that video to yourself as you run. Also image what the finish will be like, family friends, crowd cheering you over the line. Again 'play' this video in your mind as you run.

    I have a Mantra I say to myself... For the marathon I ran it was this...

    "I am a Marathoner. I love to run. I run 4 times a week. I am in great condition. I finish all my runs. I am a Marathoner"

    Physical fatigue is due to 2 main problems, a lack of energy (stored glycogen and available glucose in your blood stream). The second is a build up of lactate in your muscles.

    The more you train the stronger your muscles get and the capacity of your body to store glycogen increases. This will come with time... follow your training programme and you will be good on the day! A key part of any training is having rest days, cooling down after a run including stretching and strength exercises to build core muscles.

    In order to run you need ready energy and this is usually in the form of glycogen. Your body can store around 2000 calories of glycogen in your liver and muscles. Before you race you will need to load up on glycogen by tapering, reducing the amount you run and not running or exercising at least 24 hours before the race (48 hours is better). As other people have said eat well before the race but avoid high fibre and spicy food...

    When you run you need to keep you Heart Rate at 65-85% of your max HR... this usually means you can have a conversation whilst you are running. Or use a HR Monitor (HRM). At this heart rate you should not have too much of a build of lactate. If you find your muscles are feeling tired and crampy you will need some massage. You can do this yourself with a foam roller or go to a sports therapist.

    To build up your tolerance to lactate you will need to do some zone 3 exercise. In a week I would usually have one long run at race pace. One medium run at race pace or a little faster & two short runs in zone 3 or putting your pulse up to 85-110% of your Max HR. This will help to build your tolerance to lactate and reduce fatigue in longer runs. NOTE: get yourself checked out by a doctor before you do this and warm up well beforehand otherwise you will get injuries!

    I eat a good low fibre high carb meal the night before... Doing a run of 8-13 miles I would have an electrolyte tablet beforehand with 300 mls water or a mug of coffee. I'd take a 500ml drink like Lucozade / Gatorade with me. And finish the run off with an electrolyte tablet and another 300 mls of water. I liked chewy sweets sometimes but would usually not need to use these until I was running past 13 miles. I weighed before and after runs to calculate my fluid loss during a run. I would lose around 250-300 mls of fluid (sweat) for every hour of exercise in zone 2 (HR @ 65-85%) workout. I would do 13 miles in 2 hours so that would mean a 500-600 ml fluid loss, which would mean the Lucozade I drank during the run would cover my fluid loss.

    For recovery you will find that a square of dark chocolate a day will help, drinking cherry juice will help too... Rember not to run the day before and the day after your long runs. Try to get 8 hrs of sleep a night when you are training. Also try to avoid empty calories in things like processed food, and alcohol.

    Enjoy and have fun :)
  • Here's my routine before I run long distances (anything over 10 miles)--

    I get up and eat a slice of whole wheat toast with some peanut butter on it and drink a nice glass of water about 45 minutes before I head out. I always run with water (hydration belt) and I keep a pack of honey stinger chews in my pocket. Around mile 6 I start eating a couple every now and again. They really help keep my energy up. So far so good. :)
  • Kilter
    Kilter Posts: 188 Member
    As you've seen from all the different replies, lots of people do lots of things. You need to experiment, just not on race day!

    For me for a half, my routine is pretty simple.

    Breakfast - 2 packages Quaker instant oatmeal (I like maple and brown sugar) and a banana

    Pre-Race: 1 gel with caffeine (cliff strawberry, gu mandarine, gu tri-berry) 15 minutes before the race starts

    During Race: 1 gel at 30 minutes, 1 extra gel every 40 minutes following. I alternate a non-caffeinated gel / caffeinated gel. If it's only a half I will either take a small hand bottle with water and refill along the way, or rely on water station stuff entirely.

    That works for me for a half. Anything longer than that though and I change things up.

    S
  • kunibob
    kunibob Posts: 608 Member
    I just did my first one yesterday!

    It will depend on what your body can handle and what works for it. I've found out through trial and error; my stomach is EXTREMELY fussy, so it's very specific about what I can take at different points of a run. As an idea of how much I actually consumed:

    I carbo-loaded on the Thursday and Friday and then on Saturday at lunch, and had a light meal of carbs on the Saturday night before.

    About 2 hours before the race, I had about 200 cal of a cereal that I know my stomach will tolerate, and shortly before the race, I had about another 200 cal of energy packs (Gatorade PrimeActive is the one that works well with my stomach pre-exercise).

    I brought an energy drink mix (about 150 cal - eLoad) that agrees with me, and sipped it over the duration of the course. I also took a PowerBar Gel shot (~110 cal) at the 8 km mark, and drank a gulp of water from each water station.

    I did not run out of "fuel" at all during the race, and was even able to do a negative split.

    Good luck! :smile:
  • jackeroo83
    jackeroo83 Posts: 32 Member
    Thanks everyone for the comments! Pace right now is around 10:30-10:40, so I'm hoping to finish under 3 hrs. This weekend I'm running my first 10 mile route so I'm going to pick up some stuff to try.
    My first question is what is your pace? How long would you estimate it to take to finish a 1/2?
    Use a few training runs to try things out. For your first maybe try taking in a gel around mile 6, and 9.
    If you find that is too much and your stomach rebels, then try less. If you find that you're still not feeling like you have enough energy it could be that your pace is too fast, or maybe you need to get some more calories in.

    My first 1/2 I used two gels and alternated between water and electrolytes at each aid station.
    My last 1/2 I didn't use any gels and didn't start taking in water until mile 6, and then only got water at every other aid station.
    The more you run and the more endurance you build, the less you'll find you need.
  • BrianSharpe
    BrianSharpe Posts: 9,207 Member
    Running my first half at the end of the month! I've been following a 12 week training program and have gotten up to 8 miles, but felt very fatigued. Does anyone have any recommendations for shot bloks or gu that you like? I'm an amateur when it comes to this stuff. Thanks! :-)

    A lot of the battle is simply adaptation, as you rack up the miles your body gets more efficient at storing glycogen (the dreaded pre-race water weight gain) but also more efficient from a cardiovascular point of view.

    My strategy for long run days (Sundays - last week was 20km) is to eat a carb rich diet the day before (I wouldn't really call it carb loading) and a couple of hours before my run I'll have toast & peanut butter and a banana. At 45:00 and between 1:15 and 1:30 I'll pop a gel pack (I've been using clifshots but just tested a homemade recipe that's a fraction of the cost and uses ordinary household products - honey. molasses, a pinch of salt & water in a gel flask). Whatever product you plan on using make sure you try it well in advance of race day so there are no digestive surprises.