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Nutrition Strategy To Fuel Your First Marathon

Like everything else in the realm of fitness and performance, running better requires eating better. Having a nutrition strategy in place will help you achieve your personal best, and avoid running low on energy resources and hitting the dreaded 'wall'.

While everyone's nutritional capacity and requirements differ slightly, we've come up with some guidelines to help you gauge what you need to consume pre and during your run for the best results. These are the most crucial blocks where supplementation is key, as they help keep a steady supply of glycogen to your muscles during the run.

Depending on your height and weight, aim to consume 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of running. It is important to note that you shouldn't overload by consuming your hourly requirements at one shot. Try to keep it staggered for the best results.

Supplements like energy chews and gels work the best with water, so always chase down your energy bursts with a heady dose of H2O.

BEFORE THE RACE

Photo credit: nowness

2 - 3 hours prior: Have a meal with fast carbs that are low in fibre like pasta, white bread or rice. 85% of the meal should comprise of fast carbs, and add a dash of protein for balance. Eating earlier allows for digestion, to avoid any stomach upsets during the run.

30 - 45 minutes prior: Have some caffeine to improve mental focus and sip on a hydration drink with electrolytes to ensure you are properly hydrated. Alternatively you can have Tailwind Nutrition Caffeinated Endurance Fuel which is an energy drink with electrolytes and caffeine, your perfect all-in-one pre-race fuel.

DURING THE RACE

30 mins in: One energy gel, GU or similar. Each gel provides around 23g of carbohydrates. Wash it down with some water.

60 mins in: Another energy gel, or a 3-5 energy chews. Rehydrate.

90 mins in: Have a sports drink to refuel and replenish your electrolyte stores. Either grab a sports drink from a water point, or pre-make your own energy drink with a Pure Sports Electrolyte Sachet with some water. Aim for four ounces of drink.

120 mins in: Have an energy gel to replenish your carb stores.

150 mins in: Take another energy gel. Make sure to keep hydrated.

180 mins in: Another sports drink. If you're feeling nauseous at this point, it might be a good idea to have a sports drink that is anti-nausea and delivers hydration fast to your cells, like the Pure Sports Anti-Nausea Hydration Formula.

Keep up the 30-minute supplementation cycle above till you finish your race.Feel free to alter it according to your nutritional requirements, and most importantly to how your body is feeling.

AFTER THE RACE

Photo credit: running competitor

Immediately after: This is the best timing to eat carbohydrates as the first half an hour after a workout is when your body is primed to replace its exhausted glycogen stores. Couple this with protein, at a 4g of carbohydrates to 1g of protein ratio. End off your post-marathon meal with a dose of electrolytes to replenish all the lost potassium and sodium. You can either have a sports drink, or rehydrate with fresh fruit juice.

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