Race Fueling Tips from a Winner

Today, it's easier than ever to learn new running tips from the very best runners. In this post, I'll share some tips that I found online from Stephanie Howe who won the Western States 100 Mile Race in California last weekend. Howe was the first female finisher and ran the race in 18:01:42. It was her first 100 mile race. You don't have to race 100 miles to find these tips helpful!

Fueling Tips For Racers

The night before a race, rice is good to eat because it digests easily.

A good pre-race meal is oatmeal and a banana. On the Western States race morning, Howe ate a pastry and rice. I've eaten rice the morning before a race, too. A pastry is a good idea if you can't stomach anything else because of race nerves.

Fuel well during a race. Fuel early, starting 30 minutes into the race and then every 20-30 minutes. Aim for 200-300 calories an hour. She mentioned using a flask full of gels with mixed flavors of Clif vanilla and strawberry gels. (She's sponsored by Clif Bar.) At aid tables, she might have Coke or chips. At Western States, she ate Clif bloks and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Eat well after a workout, too. About an hour after a race, Howe especially likes Mexican food with salty chips and salsa, just like I do. I'm never very hungry after a race and she isn't either. Howe, who is working on a PhD in Exercise Physiology, wrote a dissertation on this subject and says that the jarring in your stomach influences gut hormones and that suppresses your appetite. She suggests having a chocolate Clif shot recovery drink right after a hard workout. I can always drink something after a race, but I have to wait a little while before anything substantial sounds good to eat.

On a side note, when you're training, she suggests that you train with carbohydrates.

The tips I shared are ones that I found after visiting the following websites. Visit these links if you'd like to learn more.

Team Clif: Stephanie Howe (Clif Bar)
Stephanie Howe's Blog

I've run fifteen marathons and one 50K, but I can't picture myself running a 100 mile race. The longest I've ever run is 39.1 miles (you can read about it here) and that makes a 50 mile race seem like something I might like to try someday. What's the longest distance that you've considered racing?


  1. I can't even fathom running 100 miles lol! These are great tips - I never knew rice was a good pre-race option!

  2. The marathon is the limit for me! I can't even imagine going any further than that!

  3. My friend from Altra just did 100 miles around a TRACK! it took him 27 hours! When I get to 26.2, I'm done!

  4. Wow - she is incredible!!
    You already know that fueling is my biggest weakness:(

  5. I love rice because it is GF and sits well in my belly.

  6. Those are great tips! I am still trying to get this long running/eating thing figured out.

  7. Great tips! Thanks for sharing, Tina. I think a 50 miler is definitely in your future :) If I get more into trail running, I can definitely see myself pursuing a 50K, but that's probably at least a few years off.

  8. Useful tips! I find any chocolate/milky product goes down well after a hard run, lately I've been having GU Recovery Brew which seems to do the trick!
    I hope you try a 50 miler one day! You can definitely do it. I'd like to run an ultra, there are a couple of 60km ones that tempt me but having a year of good injury-free training is something I'd like to do first!

  9. She rocked WS this year. Fueling must always be on your mind during a 100 miler. I can't imagine trying to figure out the best system.

  10. Stephanie lives and is attending college in Bend (where I live) and I was actually one of the participants that took part in her dissertation study. It was quite the process (I posted a blog about everything she did) and I learned a lot in the time I got to spend with her. Did you know she has never done a marathon - she said it would be difficult for her because of the pacing differences in comparison to the ultras. Crazy. She is super nice and knowledgeable about the topic, that's for sure. She is always giving talks at the local running stores about nutrition and training.

    1. Sounds like Bend would be a fun place to live!

  11. Great post. Fueling is probably the most important thing in ultra distances, and a hard thing to get right individually.

  12. It's no wonder those ultra marathoners have such a tough time with stomach issues. Gels get really old for me just doing a marathon, which by the way is the longest distance I've ever run. Would love to try a 50K, I think that's do-able. Not so enthusiastic about doing a 50 miler and 100 is DEFINITELY out of the question.

  13. I'm all for bananas before but not so sure about the mexican food afterwards!

  14. Oatmeal is my favorite pre-race fuel! I've tried other carb sources, but oatmeal is the one that doesn't mess with my gut during a run. :)

  15. Great tips, Tina! I'm still working on figuring out how to fuel properly. I don't have any plans to run anything farther than a half-marathon at the moment, but who knows. Never say never, right? :)

  16. Bananas and oatmeal are my go to pre race meal. The furthest I have run is a marathon and that pretty much is the farthest I have considered so far.


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