So you don't want to get food in your airway, but what do you want to eat? You want to eat foods that are quick burning carbohydrates. Sports dietitians will tell you that starting at the 1hr, 15 minute mark you need to replace 30-60 grams of carbs for every hour that you spend running. The thing is though that if you wait until the 1:15 mark it's already too late. Your nutrition stores will be depleted. So you've got to take in nutrition before that mark on a long run, generally 30-45 minutes into a run.
Do you know what the first sign of low blood sugar is? The very first sign of low blood sugar is negative thinking. Running can be hard enough sometimes, who wants to add negative thinking in the mix? Particularly if you're in the middle of a race or long run when you've still got a way to go! Not eating and drinking properly while doing distances WILL result in 'hitting the wall' and having that feeling where you are so depleted and drained that it is taking every ounce of you to push forward.
Read again: Hitting the wall is not a guarantee. It is a direct result of improper hydration, nutrition or training. So if you've trained properly and have a proper nutrition/hydration plan you will not hit the wall on a run! This is great news! When you're hydrated and fueled properly your body will also be able to perform optimally. Can you say hello PR?!
It might help to have a starting point by knowing what works for others. I personally do not fuel for runs 8 miles or less. Runs 9 miles and over I fuel for. For long runs, I run with my camelbak and drink on demand. I also carry my fuel in my camelbak. Starting at the 30 minute mark I eat something. I continue to eat something for every 30 minutes. For races, I set a repetitive alarm and make sure to eat when it goes off. I don't eat a ton every time for example I don't eat a full banana in one swoop. I'll eat 1/2 or 1/3 of the banana and save the rest for later.
With my fueling strategy I am more relaxed and mentally positive the whole run and I don't hit a wall. I have done ultra marathons where I have some bodily aches and pains but I have been mentally clear and positive the whole time. I also don't get 'rungrary' after long runs or races where you're so hungry after a long run/race you eat everything in sight. Generally if this is happening to you, it's a sign that your hydration and nutrition plan needs to be tweaked. You're not taking in enough during the run and your body is trying to make up for it later in the day.
So now, here for you is my list of favorite running fuel. I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to food and I also don't like shelling out a ton of money for long run fuel so you'll notice my choices tend to be more basic.
2. Raisins- small, compact, sweet and delicious. I've also heard of freezing grapes but have yet to try this idea for myself.
3. Bananas- yum! And pretty easy to carry in a peel. You can also mash it in a zip lock bag and bite out a corner to suck it from.
4. Honey stinger gummies- Sometimes I'm a sucker for the candy type stuff.
5. Baby pouches of applesauce- So easy and convenient for me since I have kids and buy them in bulk at Costco anyway. I don't know if my kids have figured out yet that I'm the one who helps deplete their stash!
6. This home made recipe for gu- The dulse it talks about, I researched it and it's a type of seaweed so I just buy nori (you can get it from the commissary) and crunch it up before adding it in.
7. Honey stinger waffles- They won't crumble into little bits like my cracker did but still have a sweet and satisfying crunch.
8. Sport beans- They're kind of like jelly beans.
9. Gu- The brands I tend to buy are hammerhead and honey stinger. Watch the caffeine content on these as you can accidentally end up with too much caffeine and bouncy vision (I know this from experience).
10. Onigiri- If you're in Japan, you must at least once stop at a Family Mart or Lawson's and get onigiri. Onigiri is a little triangle of rice that is filled with something like miso, mayo and tuna, ect in the middle and then wrapped with nori. When you check out, and they ask you a question, say yes, "hai," and they will microwave it for you. So delicious!