Fuel & Hydration Q+A: Nick Morgan

Hi everyone

Lucozade Sport's Lead Sport Scientist Nick Morgan will be online between 1pm and 2pm today to answer any queries you might have about fuel and hydration strategies in the context of your marathon preparations.

Nick has been advising our Lucozade Sport Super Six on their Flora London Marathon nutrition strategies but this is your opportunity to pick his brains with any nutrition questions you might have.

We're starting this thread now so you have a chance to post your queries beforehand - that way, Nick will be able to hit the ground running rather than having to deal with too many questions all at once.

Time to get posting!

Catherine RW



  • HI Nick,

    For my last two marathons, I appear to have been quite underfueled prior to the race.  I have done 6 marathons now and for the first four my nutrition appeared to be right on the button with no problems throughout any of those races.

    The fifth marathon was a problem due to being with people who didn't understand that I was carb-loading and so finding carbohydrate was difficult but not impossible, and I just didn't insist hard enough on my food requirements. 

    The problem was my 6th marathon. I carb-loaded again, and felt that I ate sufficient food, and drank sufficient drinks, and took gels with me on the races, but at mile 11 my stomach was rumbling loudly and although I had my gels with me and plenty of fluid, but I wanted actual food and as such felt drained from there on in - although I did complete the race.

    My next marathon is soon and I am eating plenty of good quality carbs, fruit, vegetables and protein.  I am somewhat bigger than average for a runner and burn off an average of 4000cals per marathon.  I don't want to be half way through my next race and have a similar problem.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you for your time.

    Vixx image

  • Hi Nick!

     Quick question about gels. I ran FLM last year and took Lucozade gels every 45 minutes along with water and Lucozade Sport when available. This seemed to get me round OK from a fuel/hydration point of view (it was just the legs that gave way!). I'm doing FLM again this year and had planned to follow the same strategy.......but thought I'd check if this sounds about right. Is every 45 minutes about right or too frequent/infrequent? If in doubt, is it better/OK to take more vs less? Any advice on gel usage is appreciated! My feeling from last year was almost that I'd taken in too much with gels plus all the Lucozade Sport available en route........however, it gave me no problems and I didn't hit the wall etc. so assume it did the trick?!



  • Can you really get dehydrated on a freezing day? I did the Watford half on 1st Feb on an icy, windy day - it started snowing before the end - and I drank two half cups of what might have been a sports drink on my way round. I'd had maybe a litre of fluid that morning before the race.

    I had a bottle of sports drink at the end followed by a large cup of tea while I chatted to friends, more tea in my car before I went home, and had yet more when I got there! I didn't feel particularly thirsty but I didn't pee from just before the race (about 10.15am) till early evening.

    I'm a slow runner, but I did finish the race more tired (and even slower) than I'd hoped (2:07) - could this be due to not taking on enough fluid during the race? 

  • Hi Nick

    Also training for FLM so as above, any gel advice would be very useful! I recently completed a PB half of 1h32 using a couple of gels and a Lucozade Sport. I do find bottles of LS quite hard to carry around but by mile 8/9 I'm glad that I did!

    I have another half marathon and 16 miler coming up in the next few weeks (Bath and Kingston), so do you envisage changing the fuel/nutrition strategy slightly for the 16 miler?

    I also have a 20 mile race coming up a week on Sunday, in terms of gels and Lucozade Sport - I'm thinking that again a gel every 5 miles plus a bottle of LS should get me through, would this strategy sound about right to you?

    For FLM, is there a maximum number of gels that you should take on board? I think any more than 4 would start to be counter-productive, but if works for everyone else then who am I to argue?!

  • Hi everyone - I hope you are raring to go.

    Please bare with me throughout as I will try to address everyone's questions as best as I can. Also, with that please excuse any spelling mistakes!!

    So here goes, in no particular order to the questions posted thus far;

    1. Vixx: you mentioned about feeling that your first 4 marathons went well, but the fifth wasn't great. Your symptoms sound like gastrointestinal distress which could come from unaccustomed carbohydrate sources i.e. ones you don't normally use or a different amount taken in. The key point is you need carbohydrate- absolutely, the second point being you need 30-60g per hour and the third point being, whatever has worked for you in the past, make a note of it and repliacte in training and therefore this should transfer nicelt to race day

  • Nick,

     Will there be Lucozade products available during Edinburgh Marathon this year. If so what will be available and how often. I would like to know what to train with and how often, and whether I will have to carry gels with me during the race.



  • Nick has lots of spreadsheets available which I am sure he would be more than happy to discuss at lengthimage
  • 2. Neil: Carbo gels

    To confirm the previous guidelines, as marathon runners you need 30-60 g of carbohydrate per hour. A carbo gels has ~ 32g of carbohydrate per sachet therefore in cobination with the luoczade sport on course a gel every 45 min would give you an average of ~40 g CHO per hour - well within guideslines. The key again would be to practice in training. Of course i'm not sure how long it takes you to run a mararhon but our stats show it takes people on average 45-50 mins to get between the Lucozade Sport stations.

    Summary: your strategy is very logical

  • Hi Nick

    i am running in the brighton half marathon on sunday.. what is the best plan for timing of gels in a half marathon? I usually have porridge in the morning but in this case it will be almost 3 hours before the race.. what should i take just before the start of the race? 

  • 3. KittenKat: Extra nutrition

    I hope that the previous answers are starting to get my thoughts across on whether extra nutrition during the event is warranted. Starting in a good place is absolutely paramount, but you do need something during. We saw from our stats that more than 23,000 people take longer than 4 hours and that people are 11% slower in the second half of the marathon compared to the first. Carbohydrate is without doubt extremely important and therefore sources of gels, bars sweets will be your best friend. this is not just to run faster but feelings of enjoyment too!

  • Hi Nick

    I'm a little uncertain as to how I should be eating during the taper weeks and especially in the final couple of days before FLM.  I am a slow walk/runner (aiming for around 6.5hours) and most of the nutrition plans I've seen appear to be aimed at runners looking at sub 5 onward, I just have no idea if my speed/time should have an effect on my eating plan.

     Thanks image

  • Thanks Nick! I ran last year after injury in 4h 28m and am training for 4 hours this year. I took gels every 45 minutes and made a point of drinking most/all of the Lucozade Sport when provided. Net, sounds like that's about the right level of carb intake. Thanks for the advice!!!

  • 4. Eva: really dehydrated on a freezing day?

    Good question and whilst it does depend on a number of factors you CAN become dehydrated on a cold day. I have monitored body weight in cold conditoins and stil seen people/runners lose 2-3 kg in weight over half marathons. I lost 3.2 kg during the Great North run this year and it wasn't that cold. Of course on a freezing day you won't lose as much as temperate or hot conditions but you still need to lose body heat, and sweating is stillthe mechasnim for doing so. If you took 2:07 mins then that is still along time and I would imagine you would of sweated more than 2% of your body weight.

     Consequwently, drink little and often still, although what you did on the day sounds ok

  • 5. Ian: 16 miler, envisage any changes?

    I would say that assuming what you are doing is good practice (gels every 5 miles is logical) then you don't have to change in any way just conitnue with more of the same.

    More than four being counter-productive - You have a ceiling of carbohydrate usage at about 60 g / hour. Therefore as long as what you do doesn't exceed this amount you are fine. Saying that, it won't harm you just won't have any functional benefit as such.

    Sounds liek your on good form with carbohydrate strategies

  • 6. John: LS stations @ edinburgh

    Not sure exactly where they are but

    1. LS is there and at regular stations through

    2. One gel station is also available, so you will need to bring additional gels with you.

    Train with what you are going to do in race situations. I hope that doesn't sound too obvious but very simply the best tactic is to replicate what you do in training on race day with the same products.

  • Hi Nick,

     Just wondering at what point in a race should I take my last gel/drink?  Obviously there is a point where there is not enough time left in a race for the body to benefit from taking anything onboard.

    Personally, I tend not to take on anything at all (inc. water) on races less than 7 miles and then don't bother with anything in the last half hour of anything else.

    Is this correct?

  • 7. Super 6 SUE!!! Hey!!!

    Great plug Sue - I like my fact sheets too. You can get hold of them at www.lucozade.com/flm. There are factsheets on carbohydrate, fluid and all our marathon stats. All include nice simple recommendations to help you achieve whatever is it your after

  • 8. Bootsie: Brighton half

    How long are you going to take?

    If it is between 90-120 min I would say 1 would get you through - probably after 50 min or so. Two would be fine too but i'd say 1 is fine. If you are running greater than 2 hrs, then two is about right, say 45 min and 90 min.

     After your porridge it is normal and good practice to take in something just before you start. I'd say good options are sports drinks, energy bars or other simple carbohydrates. White bread and jam being another option. Try it in training first

  • I have sport beans.. wil they help..??

    aiming for 2 hrs 10 so will take 2

  • Hi Nick

    Your reply re extra nutrition mentions other carb sources for enjoyment not just fuel. On training runs I take gels but if doing 20+ miles, have been known to take fun size mars bars too. Would the protein & fat content of these be detrimental to performance if the body has to work harder to digest them or is it just a trial and error thing depending on each individual?


  • 9. Happy camper: taper weeks

    Whether you are an elite, club or amateur runner per se, what you do during the taper week is largely very similar. Lets assume you taper nicely, i.e. reduce training volume but maintain a couple of sessions, maybe one with a little intensity. Key guideline are to consume 5-7 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bdy weight, i.e. 350-490 g per DAY. This ca then be worked out ito meals by loking at the back of the pack of pasta or similar carbohydrate based foods. this amount is enough to help maximise carbohydate stores but still support the tapered training programme. Other important tips include:

    breakfast is really important

    similarly, you should still address crabohdrate before, during and after any training session you

  • 10: Pies and salad: last gel/drink

    To take Kay in the office next to me, it is never to late! Very logical because it can enhance recovery. In terms of functional benefit FOR the race, I would say that 30 mins before final time is about right. However, I would say you have sensors in the mouth that can give you an instant lift by taking in carbohyrate. However, for use in the muscles, 30 min before seem about right

  • 11. Bootsie - confectionary

    Sweets are a good source of carbohydrate so would absolutely be relevant. Just understand how much carbs is in one packet and then take in the amount required based on 30-60g / hour

  • ... cont: taking into account carbohydrate from your drinks also of course
  • 12: Fiona - chocolate bars

    chocolate bars are again another good source of carbohydrate. Is it not solely carbohydarte though as you say, like a carbo gel. Therefore, the simple answer is if it you like it, enjoy and eat it IT could help your performance in endurance events. I would though that many people find gels more applicable and is provides a more concentrated source of carbohydate. Don't worry about your metabolism of macronutrients, i.e. fat/protein - not biggy here more that you won't use them a great deal for energy during the race.

  • Nick - regarding hydration, rather than worry about sweat rates, which will be different on any given run because of intensity of running, temperature, wind speed etc., why should I not just drink when I feel thirsty?
  • Great, thanks Nick.
  • Go KL - dehyadrtion - thirsty

    ok you do tap in on an interesting debate in the world of science, hydration and performance. The most current position statement states that you should drink according to thirst or to minimise a decrease in body weight of 2%. Doing one doesn't necessarily mean the other happens, i.e. drinking according to thirst will maintain your body weight (hydration levels) within suitable limits. Consequently we advise drining according to sweat rate (if you can pre and post) or little and foten.

    There is the concern that people will drink too much - hyponatraemia. This is very serious and runners need to ensure they don't drink too much - basically consume more fluids than what you are losing during sweat. Those most at risk or those exercising for longer than 4 hrs and females. So to try and answer your question directly - you can drink according to thirst but it might not keep you within recommended limts so perhaps that extra thought to drink would be prudent, just not too much.

    What we do know is though, dehydartion can reduce your perfromance so some sort of strategy is probably the right thing to do

  • Nick - One of the things that I have learnt a lot so far having been lucky enough to be a Super Six person is the importance of recovery products.

    Now after my harder sessions I use the specific recovery products or chocolate milk. Makes for far less muscle soreness and consequently better sessions the following day.

    I gather the compostion of these products will be different and contain more protein? What about the rehydration drink, will that do the trick?

    ps - racing on Sunday, I am going to try caffiene based gels!

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