I mentioned at the beginning of this website that I got a medal in running. I also attended the marathon that was in Beirut in 2003. For me, completing the marathon was a feat of strength, endurance, proper hydration, proper nutrition and training for success.
If you are an experienced runner, learn how to best prepare your body for THE BIG DAY!
Runners have to adequately train their body with as little as 3 to 4 days of running per week. New runners might take several weeks establishing a good running base.
In this post I will talk more about proper nutrition during marathon, and will keep the physical training techniques to sport professionals 🙂
Fuel well your body!
As runners’ training increases, so do their calorie needs, especially calories from carbohydrates.
Runners need between 7 to 10 grams of carbohydrate per body weight during training. They require high amounts of carbohydrates to saturate the muscles with glycogen.
So the diet should be at least 55 % carbohydrates during daily training, and 65 % before an endurance event.
Another thing to watch during endurance is the antioxidant intakes. Since runners produce free radicals from the extra intake of oxygen, they need extra antioxidants to protect against these free radicals.
Consume at least 8 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, because these foods also provide the body essential minerals like vitamin C, E, iron and zinc which increase antioxidant defense.
So eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, carrots, whole grains, meats, seafood and fortified breakfast cereals.
Before you start!!
This is somehow tricky!
Runners should consume 400 to 800 calories from foods high in carbs, low in fat and with moderate protein content, 2 to 4 hours before exercise.
A breakfast cereal with fruit and low-fat milk or whole-grain bread with low –fat cheese are 2 great options.
For a continuous endurance that lasts more than 45 minutes, eating during exercise is a must. This is because carbohydrate, fluid and electrolyte balance are necessary for a successful running.
The runner should consume during an event a food that is easy digested, but should be mainly high in carbohydrate, low in fat and proteins because proteins slow the digestive process and cause indigestion…
Some foods that athletes use may vary from sports bars, sports drinks, dry fruits or pretzels.
Personally I prefer the sports drinks as they are practical and easy to have, contain high sources of electrolytes and carbohydrates.
Runners should drink a lot of water with any food consumed during exercise to replace the fluid loss.
A good way to ensure that they have taken adequate amount of fluids during the run is by weighing themselves before and after the event.
Post exercise needs!
Runners should consume calories and fluids immediately following the training run or the event.
Eating a high-carbohydrate snack with a small amount of protein directly after the exercise is a good way to replace the glycogen that was used up.
For example, have an orange juice or chocolate milk.
A real whole meal should be consumed within 2 hours of run completion and should contain carbohydrate and protein in a 3 to 1 ratio, to replenish glycogen stores and rebuild muscles.
The DAY BEFORE the event!!
This day should be a relaxing day, they should not train, but they need to drink a lot of fluids. Carbohydrates should make up to 70 % of their diet on that specific day.
On this day, they should avoid alcohol consumption and gas-producing foods to prevent gastrointestinal disturbances.
Many individuals tend to have a large plate of pasta for dinner, but there are plenty of other options available like baked potatoes, rice with chicken, or cereal with milk as a late evening snack.
AFTER THE RACE!!!
This is the time to celebrate! But runners should ensure that they are still hydrated and refueled.
They need to consume snacks immediately after the race, but most of individuals don’t feel like eating and may turn into sports drinks instead.
Once the appetite returns, they can enjoy their favorite foods!! 😀
Sources: The Ultimate Training Guide
Sports Nutrition: A Practical Manual for Professionals