Quick quiz – How many calories do you need on raceday? How much fluid per hour? Read on to see the science behind how the folks at GU Energy formulate their performance energy products and get the answers to these questions – It’s on the course so train with it!
September in Philadelphia – the start of the race could be cool and crisp but the finish could be hot and humid. Regardless of the weather here are a few things to keep in mind that the scientific community has learned about endurance nutrition that might help you when you need it most on raceday.
The team at GU Energy is proud to be the official on-course energy product of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon and we have spent nearly 20 years working with professional athletes and leading scientists to optimize performance energy products for endurance athletes. That would be you. Some things to keep in mind for training and racing:
On average, athletes need to take in about 200-350 calories an hour during a multi-hour endurance event like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. Anything more than that and you risk decreased performance due to gastric distress.
Athletes need a significant amount of those calories to be carbohydrates (anywhere between 40-60 grams) due to the body’s need to use glucose as fuel during endurance exercise. Endurance events can burn through the body’s stored glycogen pretty quickly. That’s what’s called bonking and that’s why you need to eat DURING the event. Simply put, that’s why we created the first energy gel back in 1991. Keep the glycogen pilot light burning and stay hydrated and you cross the finish line. It’s that simple.
Humans need at least 15-30 oz of water per hour during endurance events, depending on heat, humidity and pace (among other things). Performance decreases after losing just 2% of body weight from dehydration.
Electrolytes help the body retain the fluid you do take in and put it to work in muscle contractions, which means you can go faster and stay out longer.
It takes between 24-48 hours to completely recover from a workout and replenish your glycogen stores, which is why taking a well-formulated recovery drink inside the magic 30 minute “glycogen window” after training is so important – fail to replenish your fuel stores and you fail to be ready to train again the next day.
You can see how all of these principles require the athlete to practice and customize their nutrition plan BEFORE race day. We design GU products with these needs in mind and that’s why we recently launched the Performance Energy Sampler.
The original idea behind GU was to find the quickest way to deliver an appropriate amount of calories to an athlete during competition without upsetting his or her stomach.
You’ll notice there is maltodextrin in GU gels and maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate (remember the 40-60g of carbs per hour from above?). Studies have shown that some complex carbs are digested faster than simple sugars like table sugar and honey. There is also fructose in GU gels which your stomach processes much faster than maltodextrin but doesn’t produce a sugar high which you might get from those simple sugars. This matters because the quicker your body can process the carbohydrates the less blood needs to be diverted from your muscles to your stomach to process the sugars. You go faster and stay out longer as a result.
Taking 1 packet of GU Gel and mixing 1 packet of GU Brew Electrolyte in a large water bottle gives you the right calories (240), fluid (20 oz.), electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and carbohydrates (54g) that you need to sustain a winning pace.
And lest we forget recovery, that oh-so-important but often neglected part of training. You’re probably running multiple times a week now with many back-to-back training days. You’ll need to recover after each one to train hard the next day so make sure you are taking a recovery drink within 30 minutes after each workout over 90 minutes or so.
Since GU is the Official Energy Gel of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series we’d like to offer you a chance to try the entire GU lineup. It’s on the course so train with it… guenergy.com
Enjoy the time spent training and best of luck on race day!
The GU Energy Team