Running fuel for the trail
Regardless of whether you’re heading out on a long trail run or a short trail, you’ll want a good selection of trails snacks for running fuel along the way. So what should you bring? Trail running is all about portable, lightweight, easy to eat, and functional running fuel. When you’re away from aid stations, stores, and houses you have to be self-sufficient and smart, and this means good planning and preparation of your trail snacks is all-important.
Typically if you are trail running you would need 100-200 calories per hour for slower lower intensity runs and 200-300 calories per hour for faster higher intensity runs. You will want to make sure you drink water while eating your trail snacks so that you can digest your fuel properly and, instead of eating a whole bunch of food all at once, you should spread it out into smaller portions. This will help you keep a constant, steady source of running fuel while minimizing possible stomach issues. Always practice with your fueling and experiment with what works. Every person reacts differently with certain foods so you will need to try a few things and see what works for you.
Gu Energy Gels / Powders
I’ve been using Gu Energy for a while for trail running and Ironman events. It’s always worked well for me and I have found the return on investment to be great. I usually carry 4 packs of Gu Energy Salted Caramel and a baggy full of Roctane endurance tropical drink powder. It’s lightweight, easy to pack in my Ultimate Direction AK Running Vest, and the powder is easy to mix, and light tasting (not all sugary), which is good on your stomach for longer runs.
When I need some running fuel with substance – not liquids or gels – then I always pack some PickyBars. You can get them in five different flavors but my favorites are “Smooth Caffeinator” and “All-In Almond”. They will definitely take care of that natural craving for some food that actually needs to be eaten with teeth vs. just drinking liquids. After you’ve been working for 12-15+ hours sometimes you just want to eat something… Since this is like eating a big fresh brownie, this is one trail snack that’ll take care of that craving.
I am a huge peanut/almond butter fan and I eat a ton of it throughout the work week, which is what originally made me try Pocketfuel. I really like the packaging because it helps you keep your hands clean and you can slowly eat from the same pack over and over thanks to the reusable cap. When you’ve finished you can put the cap on and just haul the trash out without getting your pockets all messy. They taste amazing and you can also bring a slice of bread or two with you and spread it out for a nice trail “sammich”. I recommend “Chocolate Espresso” and “Banana Blueberry”. Perfect running fuel.