Whether it’s the London Marathon or there are other events in the diary, this is the point in your training when you’re ranking up the miles and getting some long runs under your belt before you start to taper. I felt truly inspired by all the Bath Half completers and know that many of you were using that as a bit of a warm up for longer events.
When it comes to marathon nutrition you may have been winging it up to now, but as the miles rank up, the time comes to use it to your advantage.
Marathon Nutrition – what to eat
You will need more carbohydrate in your day to meet the fuel demands of the longer runs. If you notice training gets harder as the week progresses, it could be a sign you are slowly getting more carbohydrate depleted.
Make sure you’ve got enough carb going in at lunch – boxed salads often neglect the grain and whilst protein is important to fill you up, it’s not going to fuel your muscles. Consider supplementing your lunch with oatcakes or additional grains such as couscous or rice pouches. And following lunch with fruit, yogurt, smoothies etc helps to top you up.
Getting at least 20g carb per snack and aiming for 2 a day helps to top you up – so move away from nuts as these don’t contain any. Foods such as malt loaf, banana bread and granola yogurt pots will serve you well. Don’t fear additional sugar in the diet at this stage – the body is simply using it as fuel.
Marathon Nutrition – what to drink
One of the most common causes of cramps and stomach upset is dehydration – and unfortunately necking lots of water in a few hours leading up to a run or race won’t do, so for a week or so before the event, make a concerted effort to drink regularly throughout the day. Take water with you wherever you go as those meetings can drag on. You can also hydrate with tea and coffee as long as you space them out across the day. Milk is a great slow release carbohydrate source and also provides the body with calcium. Calcium is essential for muscle function and contraction as well as the making and breaking down of glycogen fuel stores in muscles so make it a latte!
Avoiding ‘runner’s gut’
When blood flow is transported away from the stomach to muscles needing maximum oxygen, the stomach can get a little unhappy. You can ‘train’ it to cope better under these circumstances, but individual tolerance will vary greatly. Some people prefer to take on carbohydrate fuel and fluid separately (for example gels and water) and others prefer to take both together (sports drinks). See what works best for you. There are over 700 sports drinks on the market so there’s bound to be one to suit. Concentrations of between 4-8% are associated with the least gastro intestinal stress but get practising now.
More tips to follow but if you’d like individualised advice, give me a shout.