Labor Day Half

My Favorite Running Fuel, Hydration & Gear

A big part of marathon training is figuring out what you’ll need on race day. The first real test of my approach to gear, fuel and hydration was the Labor Day Half, which ran on a new course and had some logistical kinks to work out. Since then, I’ve had two months to fine tune my plans for the NYC Marathon on November 4.


Most sports drinks hurt my stomach, so I use Hammer’s Endurolyte capsules for electrolyte replacement when running for more than an hour. I also started adding half a Nuun strawberry lemonade tablet to plain water, which helps with taste and provides some additional sodium and potassium.

I always carry water when training, but had never brought my own to an event, leaving me at the mercy of whatever is provided. The half marathon I ran on Labor Day didn’t have water at regular intervals, and the water they did have tasted like yuck. I’ll definitely carry some in New York.


It’s important to consume calories when exercising for hours and hours. After experimenting with different energy bars, wafers and gels, I remain a fan of Honey Stinger Gold. They’re not as thick as some of the other gels and don’t leave an unpleasant residue in your mouth. I use one every 45 minutes on my runs.

So many people swear by caffeine when running, I thought I’d try a Hammer gel (with a whopping 50mg of caffeine) on one of my long runs. My body sort of wigged out. I switched to Gu Just Plain which has 20mg of caffeine and gives a nice bump in energy without nasty side effects. I’ll bring a couple to New York for mile 17 or 23 (or both).


I discovered Endurox when training for a 150-mile bike ride while pregnant with my second child. In addition to keeping my heart rate in check, my doctor wanted to make sure I stayed well-hydrated. The nice folks at Pacific Health Labs recommended a recovery drink in addition to a sports beverage, so I tried their Endurox. If there were a magic elixir for post-run recovery, Endurox would be it.

Running Belt

The SPI belt with gel loops is great for mid-distance runs, but I need to carry water in addition to my iPhone on the longer ones. I have an Amphipod RunLite hydration belt that I’ve used for years, and recently swapped out the pouch it came with for the ballistic endurance pouch (thanks to Tim at West Seattle Runner for the tip). I’ll wear the Amphipod with two 8 oz. water bottles in New York.

Other Gear

  • My trusty Garmin Forerunner 305 sports watch tracks distance, pace, heart rate (with included strap) and calories burned, and syncs with my computer. I’ve had it for about five years and think it may be on its way out, so I’ll be looking for a new one soon.
  • Saucony Hurricane 14 shoes offer a high degree of stability and come in wide sizes. My only beef with these (and this applies to running shoe companies in general) is that styles are updated every freakin’ year and sometimes the fit changes too. So the shoe your feet fall in love with may go away. Grr.
  • Native Dash SS sunglasses have interchangeable lenses for varying degrees of light and visibility. I’ve worn this style for 6 years. Love them.

I think I’ve got a good plan in place for the marathon on the 4th, but I’m always looking for new things to try.

What’s your favorite running fuel or gear?


donate to Lisa Dawson

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