Replacing Gatorade on Long Runs

We often have participants in our training groups that do not like the taste Gatorade, especially late in a long race, such as a marathon. We turned to Dr. Devor to help answer the question of finding alternatives.


Below is the answer Dr. Devor sent to one of our MIT members to answer his question about his experience with a sort of “Gatorade fatigue” that occurs for him late in a long race. We wanted to share it widely with everyone.


What you describe is not that unusual when it comes to consumption of Gatorade in the last 5 - 7 miles of a marathon length race. And I have had several other endurance athletes over the years ask me the same sort of thing. Here is what I recommend. 


For the first 6- 8 miles of the race, I would stick with Gatorade, or whatever carbohydrate electrolyte solution is being served on the race course. Then for the next several miles I would switch over to sport beans, Honey Stinger waffles, or a gel every few miles. Remember what we are talking about here is a continuum. You have Gatorade, then gels, and then sport beans. The only difference in the three types of products is the volume of fluid that is in each one. If you dehydrate Gatorade (i.e., remove the fluid) you get a gel, if you further dehydrate a gel, you get a sport bean.


Just remember that when you use sport beans or a gel you chase it with pure, plain water. Then your carbohydrate and electrolyte concentration will be very close to exactly what it should be.


Then later in the race (the last 6-8 miles), I would go back to Gatorade. It is simply easier to get in (no chewing or difficulty swallowing), and is exactly correct with regard to carbohydrate and electrolyte balance. Many endurance athletes I have worked with through they years have had great success with this sort of plan, and I believe this will eliminate your "Gatorade fatigue" late in the race.


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