So I'm thinking about doing my first marathon this year and while I'm not at the point yet in my training where I need to take on fuel during my runs, at some stage I will. I know a lot of people use gels and energy drinks, and I bought some Clifs Shot Bloks a while back for a half marathon I was supposed to do, but never got around to trying as I didn't do the race. I think these will be out of date on the 1st of May as well and my marathon isn't until October, although I can't seem to see if the date is best before or use by.
Anyway, I was wondering if it's possible to do a marathon without taking on gels and sports drinks and instead taking, I guess "normal" food and drink? I was thinking that back in the day, they probably didn't have energy gels and drinks and probably took on "normal" stuff.
Like in my head I was thinking "Why take a gel, just take some jelly babies or something instead?" Or "drink some flat coke or fanta rather than an energy drink?"
Anyway as you can probably tell I don't have much of an idea about race drinks and nutrition. I was just thinking of being able to take something that is easy on the stomach and won't have my shorts around my ankles every 10 minutes begging for forgiveness.
Energy gels and drinks should anyway be easy on the stomach, but you should experiment on your long runs to be sure a particular brand suits you. The mix of complex and simple carbs varies a bit, and some might have extras like caffeine. As for the expiry date on the Clif Shots I wouldn't worry too much if you start using them up now. After all, sugar is used as a preservative in high concentrations like jam.
Some "normal" food would be perfectly OK but other types would be more of a load on your stomach than you want. I'd stay away from fats and proteins and stick to carbs of varying complexity, e.g., cooked potato with a bit of salt on, jelly babies (if you class them as normal food?), fruit, raisins, etc.
Yes, it's perfectly possible to do without entirely - even drinks were not allowed at one time, it's just a matter of where to draw the line. You'll certainly do better if you take on some carbs and water during a mara. Little and often for both rather than big infrequent intakes.
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