In the previous article, we focussed on the nutrition before a marathon or a long run to help you build your stamina and perform better. Here, we’ll focus on the nutrition during the run.
Don’t laugh at the idea of nutrition during a marathon- its incosequential for a short run, but for long runs like marathons its essential to keep focus on it.
1. Sip water before: Right before the run, you might feel a little thirsty. Sip on some water, but ensure that you don’t drink too much. At the max- half a glass. Else it will sit in your belly and weight you down while you run.
2. Hydration: During the run, at the water stops, keep sipping water. Research your marathon route well so you know where the water stops are, and train your body accordingly. Optimum hydration helps your muscles perform better- with stamina and speed.
3. Sports Drinks: Electrolyte based drinks like Gatorade are available at water stops. These drinks contain simple sugars and salts, so they provide instant energy as well as hydration. Long duration of exercise depletes the salt compound levels in your body. The electrolyte based drink replenish these replenish these salt compound levels to keep you going for longer. Like water, don’t drink too much, else it will sit in your belly.
4. Energy Gels: For long runs like marathons, your body can require over 5000 calories. Since you can’t eat that many calories in your pre run meal, many long distance runners carry energy gels with them. These energy gels contain electrolytes and simple carbohydrates to provide instant energy. When you feel like your running out of energy, pop open a gel pack. It contains fast dissolving carbohydrates that give you instant energy and keep you going.
After a marathon, your body has taken a pounding so ensure that you provide it with the right nutrition to replenish your muscles. Have some quick dissolving simple carbohydrates like candy bars, or fruits like banana. Low fat food is better, since its promotes faster digestion and quicker absorption of nutrients into your muscles. Ensure you hydrate well and give your body some much needed rest.
There are plenty of marathons and long distance running events (list of running events in India). You might be training for it, or probably know someone who is. As important as training for it is, its equally important to get your nutrition right. Incorrect nutrition can complete destroy your performance.
Here are some nutrition tips that help you build stamina and improve performance.
We’ll break the nutrition down into 2 parts based on its timing- The first one is before the run, and the second is during and after the run. Here we’ll focus on the nutrition before the run. We personally rate the nutrition before the run as the most important, since it lays the foundations for your energy requirements:
1. Dinner: On the night before the big run, have a carbohydrate rich dinner, like pasta or rice. The surplus carbohydrates are stored in your body and are used to supply glycogen to your muscles during the run.
2. Hydration: About 1.5 hours before the run, drink a litre of water. This water will hydrate your body. The timing is important, since it gives your body enough time to process the water out. That way, you’re standing at the start line, not the line for the toilets.
3. Pre Run Breakfast: Breakfast anyway rules as the most important meal of the day. On your run day, its even more important since you need it to fuel you through the run. Eat a good breakfast with lots of slow release carbohydrates, some protein and low fat. Eat this meal atleast 45-60 minutes before the run. An example would be oatmeal with low fat milk and a banana. Fast release carbohydrates (sugary) are not recommended since it can cause a sugar low, and impede performance at the start of the race. Some protein is good to feed your muscles. Fat free is not important, but low fat is- Fat takes longer to digest so it will sit in your belly, make you feel heavy, and affect your performance.
4. Vitamin B: Pop a Vitamin B with your pre marathon breakfast. Your body uses Vitamin B to produce energy. For long runs and workouts, your body needs to produce extra energy and stamina, and a Vitamin B will help with that.
5. Sleep: Last but not the least, get 8-9 hours of sleep before your run. Sleep has lots of benefits. Your body should be completely well rested to perform in a long run.