Understandig my water & GU intake

Posted by on April 11, 2012

Since I have been running with water bottles the past few weeks I have really started to dial in my water intake. The one thing with a pack that I don’t like is not really knowing how much water you are taking in until it is too late . The other benefit of the water bottle is that they provide a little arm/shoulder/chest workout. I have noticed that my chest is losing more fat that normal.

Right now I am consuming about 22 oz or water over 8-10 miles. Temps are between 60-80 right now. Maybe I’ll need more come full summer temps or 70-90’s.

At the end of my 9 mile Tuesday trail runs I have little or no water left in my two bottles. I am not sure at this point if I will race with both bottles or just one. One bottle should be enough water to get me through each aid station in my ultra races. But the though of running with only one bottle bugs me due to the shift in weight. I find myself fidgeting and switching hands too much with just one bottle.


Regardless if I carry two bottles or one in my upcoming ultras I think I finally know what my body needs to feel fresh and close to fully hydrated.

In addition to water intake I feel I have started to understand my GU intake a little better. I have been playing with GU intake lately and starting to get it dialed in. I started by taking one GU every 20 minutes. That worked well. I continued to refine that to one GU ever two miles. This is what seems to be really working for me.

I ran my last Tuesday trail run and consumed 22 oz or water over nine miles with one GU every 2 miles. I felt great at the end and had it not been cold windy-cold I would have kept going. I got home showered and felt great. This was perhaps the first time I felt good after a run over 6 miles. Not my usual tired feeling.

Unless I get über fast over the summer, not going to happen, I think one GU every two miles is going to work for me. This means I have a good chance of consuming more than three GUs for each hour of running on average. You have to remember that I am a bigger guy at 6’2” and currently 200 pounds. I am going to burn more calories that the 170 pound tall guy. The other thing about taking GU based on miles compared to time is than it is easier to not miss a GU-ing. My watch beeps every mile and that is easier to catch than looking at run time. It is easy for 20 minutes to fly by especially late in a race when I am digging deep and trying to pick up my pace.

So that is just a quick update on what is working for me right now. Little by little I have starting to feel like I know what is going on with my body on my long runs. The more I get a grip on this the less guess work is involved. This leads to more confidence and faster finishes. I hope so anyway.

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7 Responses to Understandig my water & GU intake

  1. Ron Heerkens Jr

    Good that you are finding out what works for you, very important. I ended up falling into a regular 15min hydration/fueling pattern when I ran the marathon last year and find it has been working out pretty well. (Water @15/ Sports drink (or electrolyte at next 15) then all three (gu) at next 15. For the longer stuff I am starting to play with natural food and non gu at 1:30-2:00 range. But it helps to find a rhythm that works and to keep fine tuning it.

  2. Ed

    I don’t have a regular water time frame. I am pretty good about just taking a drink every so often. It seems to work out that I am downing a 22 oz bottle every 5 miles or so. It will be interesting to see how that changes in the warmer weather that is yet to come.

  3. HermanTurnip

    That’s a lot of GU. I usually have one at the start of my hill runs, but have never ingested more than one while on the trail. Do they make that much of a difference, and do you think I might want to try taking a few on my next trail run?

    Oh, and the chocolate ones make me gag, and I find that the apple ones taste too much like chemicals.

  4. Ed

    Lance Armstrong take 1GU every 12 minutes when he runs a marathon. That means he takes 13 gels for 26.2 miles. Top ultra marathoners that take gels religiously take one ever 20 minutes. If they miss just one they say it makes a difference. In my 50k I burned just shy of 4500 calories. The body only stores about 1600 calories. Anything above that is burned from fat or food intake during the event.

    I know for sure that the difference of not taking gels and taking them is night and day for me. Some people can’t stomach gels but I don’t have any trouble. I like the lemon and the tangerines. The chocolate are just too thick for me.

    You will need to experiment with what works best. I’d start with one every 30 minutes and see what you think. Let me know how it goes.

  5. HermanTurnip

    Ahh….I think I’ll give it a shot this weekend just to see if I can notice a difference. Will see how I feel at the bottom of Mt. Woodson. Thanks!

  6. Mike Place

    Yup, you’re on the right track for sure. Just don’t forget to mix electrolytes into the equation or you’ll be hurtin’. :]

    I’ve been experimenting with lowering my meat/sugar intake in my regular meals while increasing the number of fresh fruits and vegetables. (Not exactly a revolutionary approach, to be sure.) One interesting side-effect is that as I’ve done so, gels have gone from tasting horrible to tasting really good. I suspect that the lower acid load in my body is actually changing the way my mind perceives the taste of sweets and sugars. Interesting stuff.

    • Ed

      Mike, what about salt tabs? Do you take them when you train or race on a regular basis?