Week 14 is done and gone! Less than one month until the Chicago marathon and I am entering my peak mileage week. Week 14 was a strong, hard week of running. Six days on and one day off can definitely be difficult and exhausting (but in a good way). I switched up days slightly, did not really run a true speed or tempo run, and was a little under the mileage I had hoped. Instead, I ran just over 40 miles: with friends at the GCR Dash ‘n’ Dine; convinced my husband to run with me; and two longish runs with friends on the weekend. Overall it was a happy, pain free week of running. Side note, has anyone noticed the air is just a touch more pleasant in the mornings? Is it just me? Am I hallucinating my way into fall??

Throughout my training this summer I have been playing around with fuel and hydration before and during runs. Previously, I was strictly a water and PowerBar energy gel girl. I like only one type and one flavor of gel and most sports drinks upset my stomach. After a super hot half marathon in late April (barfing involved – enough said), I realized I needed to change up how I was hydrating.

Part of my issue is finding something to eat at 4:30 AM that doesn’t make me want to gag. I used to be a huge Cliff Bar fan, but lately can’t stomach them. After dozens of different bars, foods, gels, etc. I think I can safely say I have made up my mind on what I like, what works for me, and what to avoid. (Although it took a hand full of rough mornings and more than one port-a-potty stop…)

  • Real food before runs over 6 miles. I tried at least 10 different bars – anything to be quick. Not one really sat well at 5 AM. Guess what does? Real food. Who knew? My favorite pre-run food is homemade banana bread (you can find the recipe on my blog). It has lots of banana and a bunch of chia seeds. Tasty, but not heavy. Weirdly enough my second favorite pre-run food? Potatoes. Regardless of my weirdness, I felt so much better after eating “real” food versus a bar of some sort.
  • SALT! SALT! SALT! Why I have I not been taking down salt on runs until this summer? It has helped so much on those long, super hot mornings. I tried out Salt Stick tabs and regular salt. Taking a capsule was convenient, (and doesn’t melt when you get them all sweaty) but the regular old table salt on runs was my favorite. I like to take 1-2 salt packets down every 5 miles or so.
  • Cliff Shot Bloks Margarita flavor and PowerBar gel, tangerine flavor. I cut up the bloks and put them in a plastic baggie so I don’t have to deal with the packaging. I like the Margarita flavor because they have a little extra sodium. Generally I take 2 bloks every 4-5 miles and chase them with the salt. On long runs I like the gel around 13 miles. I like those gels so much more than gu’s because they are a thinner consistency and the caffeine always helps!
  • Fluids. I carry water with me on runs longer than 10 miles. Thanks to our running group, I usually get a little Gatorade once or twice on long runs, whenever we stop by the group start. Sometimes I will have a little Nunn with my water, but mostly I prefer flavorless water on the run.

So after 14 weeks that is what I have learned and come to like. I have my plan for the race and am excited to put it to use on the 13th. Who else is doing long runs this week? What is your fuel/hydration plan? Love/hate any products products? Let’s hear about your favorites!

By: Lianne Martin
To read more about the author, follow her on Twitter @sunshine_runner or check out her site SunshineRunner.com.

More from Fit Nation:
Summer Running with Lianne: Running Solo
Summer Running with Lianne: The Long Run
Summer Running with Lianne: Recovery