According to the U.S. Olympic Committee, "The number one reason for dropping out of a marathon is gastrointestinal problems, not injury. By practicing hydration and nutrition strategies during long training runs, one finds out what each individual runner's stomach can tolerate, and it also trains the gut to handle more calories and fluid."
What you eat before, during and after your runs directly affects how well you'll be able to train, so here are some important dietary tips to follow to get you over that finish line!
Photo credit: daily burn
HAVE A NUTRITION PLAN
Implement a nutrition plan at least a month before race day that is balanced and calorie/portion conscious. Avoid empty calories and focus on eating foods that give the most nutrients per calorie. These include low-GI carbs such as wholegrain pastas, brown rice and sweet potatoes to adjust your body's energy reserves. Also important are lean proteins (fish, eggs, chicken), healthy fats (avocados, nuts, and olive oil), and of course all of the whole, colorful fruits and veggies to provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
REFUEL WITHIN 30 MINUTES AFTER EVERY RUN
It's not just what you eat, but when you eat it. It is absolutely crucial that you refuel immediately after exercise. When your muscles are depleted and require an abundance of protein and carbohydrate, the muscles are biochemically "primed" for nutrient uptake. When it comes to post-workout nutrition, supplements are proven to be more efficient and more effective. The latest research has demonstrated that liquid supplemental formulas containing fast digesting protein (whey hydrolysates and isolates) and carbohydrates (dextrose and maltodextrin) are absorbed more quickly than whole food meals. So have a protein shake or drink a protein smoothie with fruits. See our whey protein powders here.
CARB-LOAD BEFORE A MARATHON
When it comes to long runs, you want a constant, relatively quick source of energy. Carbohydrates is what you should look to. Eating carbohydrates produces glycogen, which is your body's preferred source of energy for endurance exercises. Carb-loading doesn't just ensure you can run the miles, but it also helps you to prevent fatigue, both physically and mentally.
BRING ENERGY GELS ALONG FOR YOUR MARATHON
As your run progresses beyond the 90 minute mark, you need to replenish your carbohydrate stores. Energy gels are a convenient and efficient tool to keep your fuel tank strong, providing 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates for every hour of running so you can keep going. See our energy gels here.
KEEP HYDRATED WITH ELECTROLYTES
You also get easily dehydrated your run, especially in our hot and humid climate due to profuse sweating and a lack of sodium. Taking sodium alone causes water retention and hormonal issues that could severely hamper the run. Instead, consuming electrolytes allows for proper balance and for you to continue on your run without severe fatigue. See our electrolytes here.
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