Long run nutrition/hydration

Hi all
I’m new here (and pretty much new to tri) and trying to get myself ready for Outlaw full and half this year.

I was on my longer run this morning and was wondering at what duration of run people start to carry nutrition and/or a drink on their long runs. By background I’m a cyclist and would always take a drink out for every ride, and will carry some sort of food/gels for rides of 2 hours or more.

Any advice greatly appreciated as to when people start to carry food/drinks and what they do - e.g. a bottle in the hand or one of these vest/waistcoat thingys i’ve seen some people run in.



Its very individual so takes a bit of tweaking. 2 hours is the often quote limit of glycogen sfores aftef which you nedd to be taking stuff in. If youre gojng longer than that you want to be taking stuff earlier than that, dont wait till the 2 hour mark.

Ive also found that its bot always the same. I went on one run and bonked at 40 mins. Orhers have chugged on for 2+ hours with nothing.

Also with water depends on sweat rates and temperature.

So play around and see what works for you. Also try different sources. Gels, solid etc. I prefer a gel or energy drink for running. Its much easier to eat a flapjack cycling than running.


Oh and welcome!!


Thanks @GRamsay - what do you use to carry stuff? What I’m loving about triathlon so far is all the kit you have to get :joy:


as @GRamsay says it’s very individual and everyone has differing approaches.

when I was doing this long distance stuff I would run for up to 2hrs with nothing with me but would have had some hydration before heading off. Longer runs I would carry some liquid nutrition - usually a flavoured maltodextrose drink - in a waist pack as I hated carrying things when running.


I generally CBA with carrying stuff, so just have a good breakfast & a drink before I go. Seems to work for the distances I go although I once got into a spot of bother on a 30km XC run home from the in-laws house in UK in the summer, was very very thirsty by the end.

Not recommending this as a strategy by the way, just saying what I do !


Did a 2 hr run this morning and barely touched my water but it was cool and overcast.

So different in warmer weather

As above depends on the person as well

Anything over 2 hrs I would take some nutrition- cliff bar or such like - only take gels for anything really long when won’t feel like eating

Welcome to the forum :grinning:


Yes buying stuff for triathlon is a lot of fun. Until you stop doing it and have drawers and cupboards full of it.

I used to use a number belt to carry gels. They are good for races and most have loops like a gun bullet belt for gels.

Im a heavy sweater so on a hot day for a long run I would use a camelback. Not the best but I hated holding a bottle.

See a lot of people use hydration vests with flasks


I think I’m probably at the two hour mark as well for running. I wear a camelbak for anything over that as I want to be able to take some water, possibly food and possibly clothing depending on the day - if you end up walking home due to unexpected injury I like a bit of back up clothing. Under 2 hours I don’t normally take anything extra with me - not even my phone. But as others have said, this is very weather dependant and I would probably take a bottle of water if running for more than an hour on a very hot day


I’m similar to Hillwall (without the extra clothes, I’m not that organised! :joy:) on a personal level. I use a race pack if I need water as well, as I hate stuff in my hands. But if it’s cooler weather then just a couple of gels in my shorts pocket normally.

But there are (at least) two other considerations for me, especially if you’re training for tri, not just running:

  1. Even if you can last 90 mins plus without any fuel, you will need to get your stomach used to ingesting on the go for a half IM. So use it to experiment with gels, drinks etc to find what suits you.

  2. This one hit me last year when I was IM training. If you’re in a big training block then I found that not taking any fuel/water impacted my recovery/ability to go as well the next day. So again, I could easily do my long runs with nothing, and regularly did, until I clicked that it was impacting recovery. This was more the case with fluids than fuel for me though.

Good luck!


Yep 2 hours is standard magical marker for muscle glycogen dumping ground - approx 1500/ 1600 cals of accessible easy fuel (equates to about 60 miles on the bike) or approx 15/16 miles for average runner

You can through time extend that if getting in some mega mileage - but also helps to eat like a warrior the night before

Big evening meal top up the tank winds you up like a Duracell bunny and off you go. But def take fuel (or a taxi fare) if don’t want to get stranded past 2 hrs and long walk home - not so bad in summer. But a mega bonk in the winter - yuck!


Thanks everyone for the input/advice - really good stuff and much appreciated. I was wondering about a Camelback or similar. Do many people uses these for full distance events?

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Wouldnt bother in an event as you should be able to grab enough from the aid stations. Dont want to be carrying that weight around in a race.

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Depends on the course - if aid stations at regular intervals, no need…

… if training might be handy depending how you like wearing them… Or you could just tuck some gels down arm bands on each arm - old arm warmer rolled up, I find ideal for this.

Some folk use the waist band ones…

It’s just trial and error

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I got a running vest for long runs (2 hours+). Cam carry some gels and 1.2l of water or energy drink. Definitely needed it when going long in the heat.

Decathlon job, not too fancy or expensive.

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Personally… I think you probably shouldn’t be running long enough to really need to think about taking stuff, other than in race specific simulations - where you should probably put some nutrition by your front door and run past now every so often to practice.

In general with others, I do not bother with food below 90 minutes, unlike Toby, I can enter a full on bonk with just 15minutes of running pretty consistently (do a 1 hour hard chaingang first) so it will vary, but generally until you’re running an awful lot, your legs will be getting you to slow down before your overall calorie demands start complaining, unless you start the run depleted - which you should never do!

Drink, purely down to you. I actually like running with a vest with a small bladder if I want a drink and am going far - and I can also carry food money etc. as I would on a bike - just in case. But normally I just run routes where I can cut it short and head home if I’m not feeling it.


I did 7 or 8km loops last time I was training for IMUK/Outlaw.

Just run past home on a four loop course.
You can drop some bottles at 2.5 and 5km (ish) on the first loop and then have a quick swig on later loops, with the main feed being home.

Properly simple.


It’s weird being on a forum with logical people