What you’re eating and drinking is a vital element to your marathon training - you’ll need to make sure you have a balanced diet and are getting enough of what you need to keep those energy levels up.This will also help your muscles rebuild and recover after all those training runs.
Fuelling your runs
Incredibly, two thirds of your bodies’ energy will come from carbohydrates. And the further you run, the faster these stores will deplete, so it’s very important to keep these topped up regularly.
Before a training run, have a carbohydrate rich snack, not a heavy meal, to avoid being weighed down. Porridge with fruits, a bagel with peanut butter or a chicken sandwich and fruit are all excellent choices to keep you fuelled up during training.
The best source of carbohydrates throughout your marathon training will be grain products, wholemeal if you can, fruit and vegetables, which are full of the right nutrients and protein which is also key for helping, rebuild broken tissues and cells after a hard training session. Unsaturated/saturated fats are also very important with nuts, salmon, avocado and seeds being great sources of this.
Down the line you’re going to be running for long periods of time, so it’s important to get your marathon nutrition routine now to cope with the demands on your bodies’ energy stores.
Water and sports drinks will soon become your best friends, if they haven’t already. In the next month or so, you’ll want to work out if you can manage with just water and gels, or whether you need to throw in sports drinks to boost your electrolytes levels. Try this all now, so when it comes to race day you know what works for you. You may have heard it many times before, but don’t try anything new on the day of your race as the last thing you want to do is spoil your experience by finding out something isn’t working for you.
So how much should you drink? Well, it really comes down to how much you sweat, so during training you should attempt to estimate your sweat rate. The basic rule is to try and match your sweat loss, taking care not to over hydrate. Make sure you drink enough a few hours before the runs and avoid large consumptions of liquids during your runs. BBC Good Food has an excellent Q&A session with leading nutritionist James Collins which is definitely worth checking out.
It’s all too easy to forget about the all-important recovery period after a training run, or the race itself.
Recovery starts as soon as you stop running, with the first 30-60 minutes after finishing a training run being your best recovery window. So give your body what it needs - hydration and food! A protein based drink or even chocolate milk is great. You might think it’ll be hard to stomach but they’re great for helping those achy muscles repair.
Rest and relaxation is also high up on the recovery check list, especially after a long, hard training session. Schedule these in when you know you can relax afterwards and get a good night’s sleep.