MarathonMaiden's Blog

June 4, 2010

How [Double] Running Can Rock: Refueling

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — marathonmaiden @ 09:00

I’m so glad that many of you are fans of doubles! It’s sooo nice to know that I’m not the only crazy one 😉

Although sometimes I “feel like I’m taking crazy pills”

Fun Fact: This was the movie I watched the night before my debut marathon

just because I’m putting in soooo much MCAT study time then polishing my application to school etc.  I apologize if my comments have been sparse lately. And replying to emails.  I swear I’m trying to get caught up. I’m thinking I might have my life back at the end of the month so please bear with me! And maybe send some positive vibes my way? Win-Win: I get my life back AND you get to read my witty comments some more 😉

Before I get too far into what I want to talk about I want to say why I’ve kept putting off writing a post about what I eat. It’s for a couple of reasons.

  1. I’d be a terrible food blogger because I’m a) not a foodie by any means and b) I never remember to take pictures of my food.  Seriously. It’s only AFTER I eat my food that I remember I’ve promised to document it for you guys
  2. I hate posts about what people eat during the day.  If it’s for you then great but I can’t stand it.  Sorry.  And that’s not to say I avoid them.  I do read and comment on some blogs like that but they’re few and far between.  If you’re one of the lucky ones then congrats 🙂
  3. My nutrition is a work in progress.  Now I know some of you may think, all the more reason to share.  If it’s “imperfect” or whatnot.  But that’s not really what I mean.  What I mean is that I’m still tinkering around with what works and what doesn’t work for me and my running and feeling my best while training at this level.  So I’d feel weird putting out a day of eats and saying “this is what I do” because I’m not sure if it’s what I need to do or if I’ll keep doing it.

Anyway that was my long-winded justification of saying “I’m not likely to do a Day-In-The–Eating-Life-of-MM” anytime soon.  And I apologize because I said I would.  I feel bad but it’s my blog.  If you’re interested in fueling you can check out my pre, during, and post-run posts I’ve done in the past.

Obviously fueling is really important part of running.  If you don’t have enough fuel you won’t be able to preform optimally.  And those links I’ve linked above are more geared towards one workout in a day, with the ability to have lots of recovery between sessions.

But what about if you’re going to be working out within 4-6 hours after you last peeled off your running shoes?

Well the most important thing that I’ve found is to eat right away.  I know that everyone talks about the “refueling window” but I think it gets too much hype if you’re not training for something or doing intense work or…doing doubles.  So I make sure to eat within 20 minutes of ending my sessions.

I’ve known some people who do tris and “brick” workouts, where they do two training sessions, in different sports, in the same day.  And the principle is basically the same for me doing my doubles, at least if I don’t want to die: nutrition is important.

For me, having *CARBS* is the most important during my refueling window.  Carbs especially.  After I’ve done my first workout of the day (be it lifting, running or XT) my muscles are drained.  And they want energy.  I’ve actually come back from some second runs and been wicked shaky because my muscles were “empty” before hitting the streets again. Like I tried to stand still and my muscles just didn’t have the control to stay in place. Not good and quite scary the very first time it happened.

The biology in a nutshell: carbohydrates:

Molecular structures because I'm a nerd

Yummmmm. And haha this was called "bad carbs" on googleimages

are actually not essential for energy.  Proteins and fats can be broken down (in the lack of carb environment) and then used to live but carbs are the most commonly used “currency” for energy.  This is because cells use glucose to make ATP (cell energy currency) to function.

Carbohydrates are made up starch and sugars.  Basically anything that is a sugar ends in -ose like:

  • glucose
  • galactose
  • fructose
  • sucrose (glucose + fructose)
  • lactose (galactose + glucose) etc.

As you can see there are MANY types of sugars as seen in my molecular structure Figure (can you tell that I’m a scientist now? Figure vs. Picture). And starches, are basically LOTS of sugars bonded together in plant cells as stored energy.  The human / animal equivalent is glycogen but we typically don’t ingest much glycogen in our meats to get energy from it .  In the human body starches  and glycogen are broken down into simple sugars to go into our blood and ultimately our cells for energy.

Many people talk about “good carbs” and “bad carbs” in terms of giving us energy and keeping us fuller longer.  Which is all true.  Our bodies, however, can use the “good” aka complex carbohydrates (the starches, which give us long lasting energy because we have to break the bonds in the carb) and “bad” aka simple carbs (which go straight into the blood stream) in the same way.  Both types provide energy.  But you (and I) need to be smart about when to use each type.

I’m the kind of runner who absolutely CANNOT run with food in my stomach.  Like at least 3 hours post-meal.  But that creates a dilemma: food = gain energy and running = expenditure of energy.

So what I’ve found is to each complex carbs for breakfast, right when I get up.  This provides my stomach time to get rid of it but, since complex carbs have fiber which is hard for the body to digest and takes time it doesn’t ALL go into my system at once and some of it gets stored as glycogen in my muscles.  The energy gets released slowly so that in 3 hours when I go running my body can still perform.  I’ve found that oatmeal works wonders for me but YMMV.

The opposite is true when I *immediately* finish a run.  The important this here is to get those simple carbs in me so that it does get released to my muscles fast.  After a hard workout, or even an easy one but a second session in a few hours, the muscles are depleted of their glycogen storage so there’s nothing for my cells to dip into.  Hence the extreme shaking because my muscle cells were literally being starved for energy.  They needed something immediately and simple sugars are the best way to do that.  For me that could be fruit (fructose) or bread and jam (sucrose) etc.

Not only do my cells get relief but the flooding of carbs into the body also makes the liver start to release enzymes to turn glucose into glycogen which goes back into the muscles to be used during workout numero dos.

Of course, protein and fats and HYDRATION are very important to preform optimally.  For example I put PB on things like whoa  or if I’m running right before lunch it will be a turkey sandwich. But I’ve found that for my double sessions carbohydrates are the most essential and absolutely clutch.

[Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert in this stuff so I may have gotten stuff wrong and the fact that carbs = most important is my *opinion*.  Others may disagree but this has been my experience with my body]

  • fructose


  1. Carbs make you want to eat them because they are so delicious. It is a conspiracy.
    Good information anyway, Ms. Non-Expert. From my equally non-expert experience, getting just about anything into your system post-run is better than nothing.

    Comment by sarah — June 4, 2010 @ 09:40

  2. I would be a bad food blogger, too, because I eat the same breakfast, lunch, and snacks every day. It would be so boring!

    As for running nutrition, I’m still trying to figure out what to eat after a long run. I have the worst time with eating after long runs and races. I think it’s because I usually chug water when I’m done, and if it hasn’t had time to filter out of my stomach and into my cells, the thought of eating and putting more volume in my stomach grosses me out. However, if I wait until I’m actually hungry then I feel shaky. I’ve tried different foods and drinks, and maybe one of these days I’ll figure it out.

    Comment by Chelsea — June 4, 2010 @ 09:50

  3. You know, I think it is all opinion anyway… LOL. I have a friend that insists that I eat too much sugar, and I do. But, sugar makes me happy 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Comment by Kim — June 4, 2010 @ 10:54

  4. Your feelings about food blogging are why I don’t post everything (or sometimes anything). I don’t really want my full eating habits to be analyzed or criticized- cause i do what I want!

    And I love Zoolander… that quote you used is what my friends and I would say in the middle of giggling fits… ha ha

    Comment by Amy @ Second City Randomness — June 4, 2010 @ 12:06

  5. I agree with Amy above – plus I am just way too boring of an eater to be a food blogger! haha
    I also cannot run on a full (or anything other than empty) stomach. I think this is one of the reasons I love working out in the morning – I don’t have to worry about when to eat or when was my last meal, or is it too soon to run like I have to later in the day.

    Comment by BostonRunner — June 4, 2010 @ 12:43

  6. I hate running with food in my stomach too. For races, I’ll drink Gatorade beforehand for some liquid fuel.

    Comment by Jess — June 4, 2010 @ 13:34

  7. Nice job on the all the crazy studying! You have some serious dedication (to both school & running) and I hope for the best for you on the MCATs. I’m the same was as you with not being able to run if I just ate. In fact, the only time I ever eat before I work out or run is before a half or full marathon (and even then it’s only 1/2 a cliff bar). This is probably why I can’t ever run in the afternoon because I’m all thrown off by eating lunch. Thank god I’m a morning person!

    Comment by Jenny — June 4, 2010 @ 15:24

  8. Good post. I ready some foodie blogs, but like you, I never remember to take pics of grub before I shove it down my throat.

    Comment by A Marathoner — June 4, 2010 @ 16:20

  9. I’m exactly the same, Mike thinks I’m wierd because of it, glad I’m not the only one, I hate running with anything in my stomach. Or doing any exercise with anything in my stomach it just makes me feel like I’m going to be sick!

    Comment by Laura — June 4, 2010 @ 16:59

  10. I always think to take pictures after I start eating and then I usually never have my camera. You sound like such a biologist in this post!! Fueling is definitely important! I usually don’t eat before my morning runs – but I will eat within 30 minutes of finishing the run so it works out.

    Comment by J — June 4, 2010 @ 21:13

  11. I used to post pics of what I ate every day for meals when I was a newbie food blogger. Now I just post recipes or dishes that I’ve made that I *think* are interesting. I don’t have time to photograph all my meals, and I guess I’ve just moved away from that kind of food blogging. 🙂

    I like your sciency breakdown of carbs! I definitely think that they are the most important fuel when exercising. I can’t run with anything in my stomach either, so I definitely hear you on that one. A lot of people can do PB right before running, and I definitely can’t.

    Good luck studying…I still plugging away with my zillion flashcards.

    Comment by Emily — June 5, 2010 @ 08:49

  12. great post!
    I can not run with a full stomach. I have always had trouble fueling during a race because of this. I try to fuel mainly through fluids to avoid that heavy stomach issue.
    I love doubles!

    Comment by shelly — June 5, 2010 @ 17:47

  13. […] level (if you missed it here’s the one about double running and here’s the one about refueling/carbohydrates and how each is helping me run fast).  Clearly there isn’t much we can do about certain kinds […]

    Pingback by How [Double] Running Can Rock: No Stress & Good Moods « MarathonMaiden's Blog — June 7, 2010 @ 15:01

  14. […] catch the first few pieces of “How Running Can Rock” I talked about: double runs, carbs and no/low […]

    Pingback by How [Double] Running Can Rock: Low(er) Mileage, Shorter Runs & Sleep « MarathonMaiden's Blog — June 7, 2010 @ 15:02

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