Nutrition for long runs/rides

It seems to make virtually no difference how much nutrition i take on on long runs/rides.- Water yes, but fuelling really doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference.- Am I the only one, or am I doing it wrong?

When you say no difference, do you mean no matter you take you still bonk, or you dont bonk even if you take just water?

I can cycle in Z2 for 3-3.5 hours with just water, but beyond that if I dont take something on its going to get proper miserable.

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I get miserable and run out of energy and all that.- at roughly the same point regardless of what fuel i take on.-
Maybe i haven’t got my distances up far enough to get past the “generally miserable” and into the “my legs don’t work any more” phase.- ( 16mile runs / 4-5 hour rides)


Mmm tricky. A full on bonk is like the flu, if youve never had it you dont really know whats its like, but once you have had it youll know.

I think when you’re pushing the distances to the max you’ve ever done its going to feel crap towards the end. If you reqlly feel like youre out energy then try upping what you take. If youre doing 2 gels an hour, try 3.

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Agree with this. I properly bonked once on a long ride in Oz. We were doing some hilly riding through the hinterland. I didn’t actually realise what was happening to me, I couldn’t change gear and was starting to turn left instead of right, that kind of thing. I was wobbling so much that my mates stopped and asked what was was wrong and they said I had the ‘thousand yard stare’ and just asked where I was and what we were doing? :open_mouth:

Needless to say, the stop was quite long and nutrition and hydration taken on slowly!


If you’ve not seen a glycogen depletion bonk, see my Mallorca finish carpet gif! :see_no_evil:

I agree with what the other two have said. Building up distances is hard, but that’s very different to bonking. Nutrition is also somewhat of an individual thing. I’d always felt crap on long runs approaching 20miles. Then I found Maurten. That worked for me and I referred to it as “miracle juice” at the time. Its worth some experimentation


It’s some years since my long distance days, I had problems with food intake as well - but my issues were more to do with what I could stomach.
Having said that, the issue for you is much the same, working out what works.

For me it was malt loaf and dilute lucozade and I used kendal mint cake for a bit of a sugar hit. Couldn’t manage any energy drinks apart from SIS GO. Took me a few years to work all that out.

I know a bloke who just ate jam sandwiches (cheap white bread), someone else who taped 20 or 30 gels to their bike frame for IM … there will be lots of odd choices if you ask.

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About 3.5 hours riding is my limit of no food and water. Trouble is you don’t just get to 3.5 hours and think I’ll eat something now got to plan it earlier.

I really like the chunky Cliff bars, a little bite every 14/20 minutes works well for me. Pair that with Maurten and I’ve found a combination that works for me. If racing I’d add an electrolyte gel in the mix too.

It’s all so individual though.


Yeah i love a bit to eat every 14 mins as well.

I find it really helps with the mental calculations, especially when you’re in the multiple hour rides/runs.



Thanks for the feedback.- I guess I just keep trying different stuff.- I can stomach food just fine.- it just doesn’t seem to make it feel any easier/stay any stronger…

Mint cake is a childhood favorite.-- I’ll have to see if i can get some delivered.- -
Salty boiled potatoes are a speciality over here.- I’m thinking to try them.- (They usually come with a dipping sauce, and there’s an amusement value to having a little pot of sauce in my bento box and delicately dipping potatoes into that as the serious riders brurn past me…

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Lol typo there!

14 minutes is very precise :rofl:


I was going to say, every 14mins does not make for easy maths when you’re exercising!


Calories are almost certainly not limiting you then, forget the “nutrition” for now, and work on what is limiting you. random guess from the symptoms is you probably are doing it all too easy (ie little calorie demands but you’re still limited by other fatigue) so spend some time working harder, but that is a guess and you might not be doing it all too easy.

Yes, sounds like you need to build stamina and strength.
Back in the old TriTalk days (c2007-2010??) there was a lot of discussion about this … box vs base was the saying; do you get into the hurt box regularly or do long slow miles?
When starting out or aiming for longer distances, there’s a tendency to worry about being able to complete the distance whereas, in reality, having more power on the bike or pace on the run allows you to back off to a more comfortable effort to cope with that additional distance.
It’s a balance of course :slight_smile:

I should add that, if you can eat and digest potatoes on the bike, you’re definitely not working hard enough!


I’ve always tended towards long slow miles ( got to a 3:11 marathon on zero speed work {edit- this was in 2007 - i’d be happy with a 5:30 now }).- Over here, every ride has at least some high intensity.- because the only way out of town is up. on the bike, i definitely feel like i’m working hard, but maybe not hard enough.- ( Although forcing myself out the door is hard enough at this intensity)

in training/racing nutrition is also related to pre training states the terrain and environment and pacing relative to cycling/running specific individual physiology…

Lots of practice required…

I used to eat mini calzones on rides over 3 - 4 hours and runs over 3…

For the runs - they’re always a chore.

What’s 13 miles like? Judging by your marathon time I guess you’re doing them at 1:45-1:50 in training?

Is it passing the 2 hour barrier for runs?
I find breaking them up with 9:1 run/walk helps massively.
It’s warm where you are, right?
Maybe do 3-5 mile loops and drop some bottles on the first loop (this also helps keeps the pace down)
I did this last year to great effect.

Like @stenard , I found Maurten a revelation.
Pre-fuelling and time of day also makes a huge difference to me.

For the bike - hmm…I find 100km pretty easy.
Hilly or flat. So long as my headphones keep battery. As soon as they’ve gone, it’s rock hard :rofl::see_no_evil:
For bike fuelling this time of year it’s generally cheap High5 and supermarket bars, bananas, plus some out of date shot blox and gels.
When the distances go over 160km, I’m using Maurten and Clif bars. Plus I stop very briefly at a garage (CCTV) so I can quickly use the bathroom, grab a Coke, 2 snack size pork pies and 1.5l of water to top my bottles up.

If 4-5 hours is hard, or you feel low, what’s 3.5 - 4rs like?
Okay? How’s the pre-ride meal and hydration? What’s it like the day before, too?

I tend to treat my longer rides like mini-events.
Where I’ll do the full ritual of race morning and race day fuelling.

Friend of mine goes out for a long ride every April-ish, rides until he bonks epically, says it ‘primes’ his fat burning system for race season.

No idea whether that’s his own bespoke approach or some (probably old) wisdom a bit like ‘carb loading’

For long bikes I pack a bento box out with Brazil nuts, dates, Cliff blocks and Cliff bar chopped into 6. Random dip every 15 minutes.

Drink is water with electrolyte or very weak tailwind.

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fat burning is happening all the time…i guess there are ways of enhancing it but these are mainly pace related…

That marathon time was a long time ago. Right now i’m only looking to scrape the cut offs.-

(I think i dropped the old marathon time into the conversation because i was feeling defensive about the high mileage/high intensity debate.)

Running isn’t really the problem -.

Back in the day I was running 11 miles before work (and before breakfast) 3 or 4 times a week ( and often the 8 miles home afterward).- So I think i adapted to running without fuel.- But the middle of the bike, when the undulations just keep coming , that’s miserable.- So the last one I made sure i was all fuelled up- eat or drink carbo at least every 20 mins.- and I was just disappointed it didn’t make it feel easier…

I’ll have to look at the maurten.

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