Long Training Runs

Is there any logic in not using a sports drink on long training runs (anything over 90 minutes)?

I wondered whether just using water would help train the body to use its energy stores (whether fat or glycogen) more efficiently if it wasn't having extra fed in throughout the run? I was thinking especially about claims that long slow runs train the body to burn fat and that stuffing it with quickly available energy sources would negate that effect.


  • I can see your logic.

    Guess there must be somethign wrong with it though else all the top runners wouldn't do it.

    I'd be itnerested to hear the scientific answer to the question though.
  • oiyouoiyou ✭✭✭
    popsider, from what I've read, my own understanding is that the body always uses a mixture of energy sources. At low level exercise, fat is a larger proportion of the total, because it burns too slowly to be used exclusively during running. What training does is make the body more efficient, so that at any given speed more fat is used than before training.
    If that's true then I would say that there's no benefit in not topping up energy supplies during a run (either racing or training). What I suspect is important is not to try anything new on race day that you have not already tried during training.
  • GuyGuy ✭✭✭
    I never bother with sports drinks on long runs, not for any scientific reasons, but because: (i) when I started out running I used sports drinks all the time, and never felt as though they gave me much of a boost; (ii) I am always interested to know what my body can achieve on its own (I have done a couple of 20 mile runs without even water - although I wouldn't recommend it); (iii) I can't be bothered to carry drinks with me;(iv) sports drinks often seem to do my stomach more harm than good; and (v) it is one less thing to worry about on race day.
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    After years of practice I have the hydration about right for me now.

    When I started I only ever used water,although now I use isotonic drinks for long runs (100min+).My times have improved but this is more down to better training than any change in fluid intake.

    For long runs I drink 300ml before I go and take a bottle with me sipping every mile or so.For longer,longer runs (3hrs) I usually take a pound or so to but a refill if necessary. I've found that as it starts to get colder I need less to drink (obviously).

    After all that I'm still unsure that the drinks help,but as my times are improving I'm not going to radically alter my hydration.Maybe its part psychological?
  • Trouble with performance enhancing drinks is they do not come with performance enhancing bladder, also top class athletes carry no fat, so weight control not one of their running goals.
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Since finding my way with drinks, I find pre race I constantly need to wee, but once I get going I'm fine.

    Did FLM this year without needing a 'pit stop'

    I call this optimum hydration......
  • I call it never giving birth
  • HillyHilly ✭✭✭
    For me I tend to only take a small hand held drinks bottle of isotonic drink for very long runs 15 miles+.

    I always make sure my fluid intake is good in the days leading up to long runs and I never have a problem with my bladder while running.

    Like Dustin I know what works for me and I wouldn't say drinking isotonic drinks makes me run faster. I can however see the need to replace lost glycogen in events like the marathon.

    Wasn't it said at this years FLM that the 'wheels came off' for Gabrasalasie(sp)in the final mile because he only drank water, whereas the other guys had their own special drinks. So maybe isotonic/carbohydrate drinks do allow that little bit extra like a world best!!
  • Anyone got any opinions as to the original question though ? :)
  • If you want to burn fat isotonic drinks being high in calories are counterproductive
  • I don't want to burn fat as such - I want to know whether or not the body can be trained to use what it has available more efficiently by not giving it extra in the form of sports drink. I've read about training the body to burn fat by running slower but I've never seen any real evidence that you can train the body in this way. Anyway I'll keep on using mainly water for training and sports drinks for long races.
  • oiyouoiyou ✭✭✭
    My vote will go the other way - carbs are essential for running.
    I've seen nothing that suggests you can "train" your body to burn fat in prefence to carbs. The fat:carb ratio is determined by the intensity of the exercise, and training will enable you to run at the same pace (or faster if you're lucky) at a lower intensity.
    Added to this is the fact that some carbs are needed in the chemical process that converts fat into burnable fuel. so if you were able to run until carbs were depleted you'd simply have to stop.

    All IMHO of course
  • oiyouoiyou ✭✭✭
    Bottom line should have added:- yes, have a sports drink on a long run, if you want to.
    The old advise is suck it and see.
Sign In or Register to comment.