Fuel Your Run: Middle Trail Runners’ Favorite Mid-Run Fuels

Fueling our bodies when we run is so important, especially if we are running long distances and/or at high intensities. Finding the perfect mid-run fuel can be a game-changer for women runners by providing us with the energy we need to perform and achieve our running goals. Why is it so important to fuel, you ask? When we run long distances and/or at high-intensities, our bodies rely primarily on carbohydrates as a fuel source. These carbohydrates are stored in a form called glycogen, but our glycogen stores are not unlimited and become depleted over the course of long stretches of physical activity. You may have heard of the term “bonking” (dreaded by many distance runners!) - this occurs when our bodies run out of their glycogen stores, and we become fatigued. 
This is where mid-run fuels come in! Mid-run fuels, such as energy gels and chews, are designed to replenish our glycogen and carbohydrate stores and provide energy sources during our long runs and hard workouts. They help delay our fatigue and often also include caffeine and electrolytes to give us an extra boost and prevent dehydration. Everyone's long run and hard workouts are defined differently, so it's important to take the time to learn what works best for you for fueling when you run. The right mid-run fuel can help enhance our overall running performance so we can continue to crush our running goals. That’s why finding the perfect mid-run fuel is so important! 
The quest for the ideal mid-run fuel can be tricky and is very personal to each runner. It is important to find what works best for you based on your tolerance (especially if you have a sensitive stomach!), your taste preference, how often your body needs fuel during a run or workout, and what is the most convenient and easiest to carry with you during your training and races. Finding the right mid-run fuel can take some experimentation! In this blog, to help you on your journey to finding your perfect mid-run fuel, we'll dive into some of Middle Trail Runners’ favorite mid-run fuels that help keep them energized, mile after mile.
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Erin

Her Favorite: GU Original Energy Gels
Price: $12.80 (Box of 8 Packets) / $38.40 (Box of 24 Packets)
Website

    Why are they her favorite? Erin relies on GU Original Energy Gels for all of her distance runs and races. These energy gels have a powerful blend of carbohydrates for energy, electrolytes for hydration, and BCAAs (branded-chain amino acids which are a group of three essential amino acids) to protect her working muscles. She appreciates the quick, effective, and sustained energy these convenient, pocket-sized packets provide. They are also super easy to carry on her long runs and on race day! 

    GU gels are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and kosher, making them easy for Erin to digest. They offer carbohydrates from two sources—maltodextrin and fructose—allowing for smooth digestion without upsetting her stomach. Additionally, the gels contain sodium to replace electrolytes that are lost when she sweats during her runs. To enhance absorption, it’s recommended to take a few sips of water after consuming the gel.

    Erin’s favorite flavors are Strawberry Banana and Mixed Berry, but GU Original Energy Gels come in 16 different varieties, with some flavors including additional caffeine. The front label clearly indicates whether the flavor includes caffeine, as well as the amount of amino acids and sodium.

    With GU Original Energy Gels, Erin enjoys a reliable, convenient, and easily digestible source of energy that keeps her performing at her best throughout her distance runs!

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    Mackenzie

    Her Favorite: UCAN Edge Energy Gel 
    Price: $35.95 (Pack of 12 - single flavor) / $37.95 (Pack of 12 - variety pack)
    Website

      Why are they her favorite? After trying countless energy and fueling options for her long races and runs, UCAN Edge Energy Gels are Mackenzie’s favorite! UCAN products are different from traditional gels because, instead of sugars, they use a special formula called LIVSTEADY, which consists of a slower time-released carbohydrate source. This makes it easier to digest while running hard, and also provides stable blood glucose levels to help keep her energized for longer (instead of a sugar spike and crash)! 

      Mackenzie also loves that the consistency of the gel is more like a liquid, and it doesn’t need to be consumed with water (like other/most gels do)! So, if she wants a quick boost on the starting line of a race or she’s out on a run and needs fuel but doesn’t have a water bottle with her, these are perfect to take! 

      These energy gels come in a variety of flavors including Strawberry Banana, Pineapple, Orange Mango, and Unflavored; they typically come in a pack of 12.

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      Genny & Kayla 

      Their Favorite: Bonk Breakers Energy Chews
      Price: $27.50 (Box of 10 Packs)
      Website

        Why are they their favorite? Kayla and Genny love Bonk Breaker Chews for the fast-acting energy they provide in bite-sized, chewable gummies. The name “Bonk Breakers” stems from the concept that a well-fueled athlete is less likely to hit the wall (or “bonk”), and delicious nutrition is crucial to keeping fueled while we run.

        Bonk Breaker Chews pack between 120mg - 240mg of electrolytes per packet (depending on the flavor) and are loaded with Vitamin C. They are plant-based, dairy-free, soy-free, and made with organic sugars, making them easy to digest. Both Genny and Kayla have tried countless sources of fuel and find these energy chews to be the most gentle on their sensitive stomachs!

        The best part: they’re perfectly chewy without being sticky, making them easy to consume without water. You don’t have to worry about them sticking to the roof of your mouth or melting in your sweaty hands while you run, which is a common problem with other chews. For half marathons, Genny usually takes one gummy around miles 5, 8, and 11. Kayla usually takes one gummy every 30 minutes of training and during her races. There are usually around 7-8 gummies per pack, so one pack is plenty for half and full marathons!

        Additionally, these packets are easy to carry on runs, fitting neatly in a pocket. They come in a variety of flavors, including Strawberry, Rainbow Blast, Green Apple, Orange Mango Guava, Orange, Cola, and Root Beer. Genny and Kayla both like the Rainbow Blast flavors for a little variety! 

        Fun Facts!  

        Kayla also carries Smarties for her marathons. She takes them as needed when she feels like she needs a little extra boost of quick sugar. Plus, they are fun and easy for her to eat during the race!. 

        Genny has a similar trick. She brings a few Jolly Ranchers with her during marathons. She usually has one around miles 12, 18, and 23. They provide a nice boost of sugar and are a refreshing burst of flavor for those later miles.

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        Emily 

        Her Favorite: Hüma Energy Gel - Originals 

        Price: 

        • Single Pouch: $2.50
        • Variety Packs: $60 for pack of 24
        • Variety Packs: $30 for pack of 12
        • Variety Packs $16 for pack of 6
          Website

            Why are they her favorite? Emily’s favorite mid-run fuel source is Hüma. The name Hüma is inspired by the Tarahumara, a tribe of Mexican Indians renowned for their ability to run over 100-mile journeys. Hüma is powered by chia seeds and embodies endurance and natural nutrition.

            Like most endurance energy gels, Hüma is designed for glycogen supplementation. However, Hüma’s main mission is to provide energy gels that taste great, are made from 100% all-natural ingredients, and help runners achieve their goals while fueling their bodies with healthy options.

            Hüma gels are crafted with real fruit, chia seeds, and brown rice syrup, making them easier for Emily to swallow and digest compared to other brands she has tried. She also finds the texture of these gels quick and easy to consume during long runs.

            Hüma offers a variety of flavors, including Strawberries, Blueberries, Apples and Cinnamon, Cafe Mocha, Chocolate, Lemonade, Mangoes, and Raspberries. While Emily’s favorite flavor is Strawberries, she enjoys all the fruit flavors.

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            Jackie

            Her Favorite: Pringles and PB&J

              Why are they her favorite? While Jackie may reach for a GU on mile 16 or 17 of a marathon, her go-to mid-run fuel during ultra marathons is a bit more...classic. Think back to your elementary school lunch days: Pringles and PB&Js! The Pringles give her that salty, sodium-packed crunch she craves, while the PB&Js deliver the perfect sugar boost to keep her powering through those epic distances. Who needs fancy gels when you can have a picnic on the run? Jackie proves that sometimes the classics are all you need to conquer the most grueling of races.

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              Fueling up for a run isn't just about preventing the dreaded “bonk”—it's an opportunity to elevate your performance and up your snack game! Thanks to the insights and experiences of these remarkable women runners, you now have a plethora of options to explore as you experiment to find your perfect mid-run fuel. Whether you find your stride with the perfect energy gel or energy chew, a nostalgic snack like Pringles and PB&J, or something entirely unexpected, the key is discovering what works best for you and powers your stride.

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