Homemade treats to help keep you going on the long runs
Running long means that you need to fuel to keep the energy levels up and this usually means working your way through a gel, gummy bears, gel blocks or energy bar, but of course the more gels you have the more they become a bit teadious, icky and sometimes make you want to vomit. Depending on the strength of your gut, the gels can also lead to some GI issues, which is something you don't need when you are training or racing.
Alternative Energy Foods
There are of course other options to gels that can give you then energy you need and be kinder to your gut. This isn't to say that you shouldn't use gels, the are a great source of energy, easy to consume and convenient to carry on runs, but mixing the gels up with some real food can help you with the GI issues and break up the monotonous gel chugging experience.
Examples of real food options are; Dried fruit, Malt loaf, Bananas, Porridge Oats (Pre-run), Jelly Babies, Cereal Bar, Baby Food, Jam & Honey Sandwich, Pretzels, Frozen Grapes and homemade energy balls/bars.
There are also energy drinks available, such as Gatorade, Lucozade Sport, Tailwind and others, these generally contain not just the carbs but also isotonic properties such as potassium (salt) which you need to replace during long runs, especially on hot days. However if you sweat a lot then you may also need to take additional salt onboard to replace what you have sweated out.
Energy drinks can be a lot kinder on your stomach, I generally use Tailwind for all my long runs over 18 miles.
Real Food Dosen't Suit Everyone
Altough alternative energy options in the form of real food are there for you to try, they are not for everyone. Some people really struggle with eating solid foods when running, it takes a lot of practice and a fair amount of trial and error to find what works for you. That is what your training runs are for, work out your nutrition and stick to it. You also need to train your gut to process food while you are running, this is tricky as your body is focusing on pumping blood to your legs rather than your digestive system.
Homemade Energy Balls (pic above)
These homemade energy balls are great, I cannot take credit for the recipe unfortunately. I have estimated that these balls give you roughly 10-12grams of carbs each, so about 1/2 of an energy gel, I usually carry a couple of these on my long run to help me stay energised.
You can make them in batches and store them in the fridge (for about 1 week) or freezer (for about 1 month) and use as needed.
Ingredients 125g oats 50g flaked almonds 50g dried cranberries 50g dark chocolate chips 1 tsp vanilla essence 1.5 tbsp runny honey 125g nut butter
Method: 1 Mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon or in a mixer 2 Squash into bite-sized balls or spread out and cut into flapjacks 3 Cling-film/foil wrap them (or for a more eco-friendly option, pop them into pre-used packaging for nuts, raisins, bread or other snacks) 4 Pop into your running pack and munch on your long run, or have a snack before or after running
Courtesy of Wild Ginger Running.