As we head into March, April and the Boston marathon are suddenly right around the corner. If you are training for a spring marathon, you most likely have been following a training plan (right?), but does you nutrition plan support that training and your goals? March is the perfect time to reevaluate and adjust as needed, so that you are able to perform your best come race day. A few questions to ask yourself now:
Have I run a marathon before?
How was my hydration and fueling during that race?
Anything I'd like to change for this race/event? (More salt, decrease GI upset, avoid the dreaded bonk!!!)!
Am I sure of what my individual training and racing needs are?
Am I starting to practice my race day fueling and hydration?
Once you answer these question you should have a good idea of where you are and where you need to start focusing. If you are unsure at this time, a good place to start is practicing your fueling for long training runs- which is just as important as fueling during race day. Proper nutrition keeps you fueled and ready to train, helps reduce rate of injury, and helps your body get adjusted to your regime so that come race day your body is familiar with the fluids and foods you've been having. All of this race day fueling practice will ensure you are properly fueled and hydrated come race day. Training sessions are the perfect time to experiment with different foods and fluids. Remember, nothing new on race day includes everything from sneakers and sports bras....to gels and Sports drinks!
Nutrition Energy's Top 5 Fueling Strategies:
Carbs! Eat a carbohydrate rich meal or snack 1-3 hours prior to your workouts, e.g., banana, whole-wheat bread with 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, oatmeal, pancakes.
2. During workout:
For long training sessions, you'll want to consume at least 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour while running! You can get this from a combination of sports drinks- which have the added benefits of including electrolytes/sodium and gels/blocks or energy chews-which provided additional carbohydrate. For runs > 2 hours, studies show maximum benefit when athletes consume 60-90 grams of carbs PER HOUR! As you can imagine, this takes planning and PRACTICE!!!
Here are some examples of popular sports/endurance fueling choices:
As you'll see, each varies in the amount of sodium and carbohydrate. Again, marathon runners benefit from added sodium long runs-so be sure you have a plan.
A 24-ounce bottle of Gatorade Endurance Formula provides 42 grams of carbohydrate and 600 mg of sodium; Can you drink 24oz in an hour? Try it in practice and let's find out.
A pack of PowerGel provides 27 grams of carbohydrate and 200 mg of sodium; You can add gels to your fueling plan for extra carbs above what you will get in from sports drinks.
A pouch of Energy Chews can provide 30-45 grams of carbohydrate and 30-50-200 mg of sodium depending on the brand your choose. Again, great for additional carbs.
Salt packets/tabs can also be very helpful at least 1-2x during long runs and the marathon. Everyone's sweat and salt needs are different. It may be helpful to have someone help you calculate your needs (for fluids, carbs and salt) and compare that to what you are currently taking in...then help you create a plan to bridge any gaps). You will want time to experiment to see how much you tolerate from different sources/products.
You may also try adding in banana, some carbohydrate based energy bars, or even small sated potatoes (great conversation starters when you take this out and start munching mid-run)!
3. Post workout: consume half your body weight in grams of Carbohydrate (e.g., 40g for a 140-pound woman) within 30-60 minutes of completing each training session. Simple ways to achieve this intake include cereal with milk and fruit, a sandwich and yogurt or leftover pasta from the night before.
4. Protein: take 15-20g of protein within 30 min after workouts. Try using low-fat Greek yogurt as the base of a protein-packed post-workout smoothie, or add low-fat cheese or chicken to pasta for a needed protein boost.
with the sports drinks and gels you plan on using during the marathon! If you know they will be providing a certain brand e.g., Gatorade Endurance Formula products at the Boston Marathon, it would be beneficial to test these out to see how your body responds.