As you prepare for your first (or next) half-marathon or marathon, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a various aspects to running a successful race. Yes, you need to log your kilometers, but you also need to practice your nutrition. Good race nutrition is a crucial part of getting you through your big race. These 7 ‘notes on nutrition’ can help you ‘power’ your training runs and race.
How to refuel during a race?
#1 Nothing new on race day
Yes you’ve heard it before, but it’s because it’s true. Don’t try anything new on race day that you haven’t practiced during training. You only want to eat something which you know your body is familiar with responds well to, otherwise you may find that you have stomach upsets, or you may even ‘bonk’ during the race. Test different mid-race fuel options, amounts and timing on your long training runs, and develop a game plan for you to follow on race day. Once you find nutrition that works for you, be sure to bring it with you to the starting line.
#2 Long runs need mid-run refueling
You may have gotten by on your longer training runs without refueling, but on your long races, especially your marathons, your body will need to refuel in order to keep propelling you forward for 21.1 km or 42.2km. It’s better to start refueling earlier in the race, than to play catch-up later in the race.
#3 It’s all bout timing
For runs longer than 60 minutes, refuel with 30 grams of carbs every 30-45 minutes.
#4 Listen to your body
While you’re practicing your fueling during long runs, pay attention to how you feel toward the end and once you finish your run. If you finish feeling good, you likely have a great nutrition plan in place. If you’re totally wiped out, try adding 15 grams of carbs per hour. If you finish feeling energized but with stomach distress, you probably ate too much, didn’t drink enough water, or need to experiment with other fuel sources. Remember there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ with nutrition, what may work for someone else may not work for you, which is why it is so important to practice your nutrition.
#5 Read the labels
Whether you’re using a gel, chew or sports drink be sure to read the label so you know what quantity to consume at each refueling stop. Chasing a gel or chew with water may make it easier to swallow and dilute the high sugar content, which is why it is a good idea to refuel at water stations. Split packs of six chews into two fueling stops to avoid consuming too much sugar. With regards to sports drinks, try alternating water and sports drink at each fluid stop, drinking to meet your thirst.
#6 Breakfast first
Mid-run fueling will help maintain your energy levels during your race, but your pre-run meals are crucial. For breakfast before your race, choose high-carb, moderate-protein, and low-fat and fiber options. Try: A bagel topped with scoop of peanut butter and a banana for a pre-run breakfast.
#7 Don’t forget to refuel post run
Within 30 minutes to an hour post run, refuel with protein to prevent further muscle breakdown and kick start recovery, and carbohydrate to replenish your glycogen stores. Try: scrambled eggs on toast as a post run breakfast, or a Steri Stumpi as a post run snack.