A lot of thought, planning, and hard work goes into preparing for race day. But did you know that one of the biggest factors that will determine how you finish is what you eat?
Knowing how to fuel your body during the days leading up to the race, as well as during and after the race, is important if you want to finish feeling great.
Make nutrition part of training
- Start with carbs. As a general rule, long-distance runners should follow a carbohydrate-based diet. Carbs are stored in your muscles and used for fuel as you run.
- Don’t skip protein. Just as carbs give your body energy, protein provides the necessary tools such as amino acids to build and repair muscles "damaged" as part of your continued training. Protein also helps slow down the release of the carbs into the system, providing a steady flow of energy.
- Always add water. The right hydration plan will enhance your performance in training and competition while minimizing risk of dehydration, over-hydration, heat illness, and injury.
Replenish on the run
In addition to hydrating during the race, it's important to give your hard-working muscles the carbs they need to keep up. If you’re running a three- to five-hour marathon, you may want to consider refueling with carbohydrate gels at the 10K mark, and every 10K thereafter.
Start rehydrating immediately, but be careful not to hydrate with water alone. A sports drink, for example, will help replace vital electrolytes lost while running. Your body will also need more carbs to replace the fuel burned during the race, and more protein to repair those tired muscles. This can be as simple as adding 10 to 20 grams of whey protein to your favorite sports drink.
So, make sure that fueling your body with proper nutrition is part of your training program. It could be the difference between barely finishing and finishing strong.
The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your doctor for appropriate health advice and guidance, including prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.