Eating for the marathon


My Disney Run race may be behind me, but I have more mini-marathons ahead in my future. The past year of training has been a real journey that hopefully you’ve followed!  Moving right along to the proper nutritional information we need to get ready for the big day of January 6th in Disneyworld, he’s a few more tips to help us along. 


Nutrition continues to be a wildly discussed topic among marathon runners. Questions about what to eat before, during, and after a race are commonly asked by beginners like me.


Obviously, preparation must start weeks and even months before the race.  The first step is to experiment and figure out what nutrition works best for you on an individualized basis. In the days before the race make sure your fuel stores (called muscle glycogen) are full. Very high muscle glycogen levels can be achieved easily – just by just eating more carbohydrates.  This certainly doesn’t mean overeating or just eating as much as possible…it means making sure more of your daily calories are coming from carbohydrates at the cost of some fat.


It is a good practice to have the last large meal at lunchtime the day before the race and to have a lighter meal in the evening.  This is also the schedule you should consider in the weeks leading up to the big day. As an aside, from a purely practical point of view, you also need to plan your meals in advance if, as I am, you’re going to be traveling to your race venue; you certainly don’t want to end up trying to find a hotel where there are good restaurants at the last minute, only to find there are long lines or a scarcity of good nutritional choices.


Suggestions for good (and eminently simple) carbohydrate sources are one banana (24-30 grams), gel (21-27 grams), energy bar (20-40 grams), 4-5 chews (16-25 grams), or even 10 jelly beans (11 grams!).


Breakfast on the day of the race can be as simple as a couple of bagels and coffee, waffles and syrup, a couple of energy bars, or a small bowl of rice or oatmeal. Whatever you select, you’ll want to make certain that it has at least 100-grams of carbohydrates and that you use this breakfast with the same timing before hard training and smaller runs.  The best timing is probably 3-4 hours before the start. 


And don’t forget hydration! Bring a water bottle to sip and s gel to take in the 15 minutes before the race starts and practice this “move” several times during your training routine. Whatever you consume in the minutes before the start will become available during the run because it takes a little time to absorb.


To recap all this info, use these six cutting edge tips to avoid any big problems and be right on point for your marathon training and racing.


During your marathon, stick to your nutrition plan but don’t try to stick with it at all cost. And…don’t experiment with anything new; this is not the time for any of that!!!  Aim for 30-60 grams per hour.  Use sports drinks gels, chews, bars, depending on your personal preference. Avoid high fat or protein intake during the run. Above all, monitor your fluid levels and don’t overdrink or under drink!

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