It’s Marathon Season in Indiana. The Carmel Marathon, Mini-Marathon and Geist Half are all coming up in the next several weeks. We’ve talked about caring for your body as you train for a distance race before. This blog will focus on fueling your body before, during and after the big race.
Lindsay Langford, MS, RD, CSSD, sports dietician at St.Vincent Sports Performance has plenty of tips on on how you can eat to excel.
Day Before the Race
The morning before your race day, try eating a meal similar to what you want to eat race morning. This helps your body get used to the meal and you’re not shocking your body by feeding it something new before the race. Breakfast should be composed of mostly carbohydrates with a little protein. Some options include bagels with peanut butter or fruit with some yogurt.
Carbo-loading can be a good way to retain energy during the race. However, make sure you don’t exceed your normal caloric intake. The key is replacing some of your proteins and fat with carbohydrates, not adding mounds of pasta and bread on top of your regular meals. For marathons, you can start carbo-loading a couple of days before the race. The traditional spaghetti dinner the night before the race is still a great idea! Sub sandwiches, baked potatoes or sweet potatoes are also good options.
Breakfast/Pre-Race – You’ll want to eat breakfast two to three hours before the race and and wash it down with 20 oz of fluid. Just like the day prior, start your day with something carb-heavy with a small amount of protein. Other options besides the ones listed above are bagels with eggs or a bowl of oatmeal. If you’re running in a busy race (with lots of other runners) and you need to get in a corral early, grab a sports drink or a gel to have 20-30 minutes before your start time.
Race – During the race, you’ll lose a lot of water through sweat, so make sure you hydrate early and often. Drink 6-12 oz of fluid every 15-20 minutes. Try swinging by the water stations every mile to regularly get a few ounces of liquid in your body. Starting at the 30-minute mark, consume 30-60 mg of carbohydrates (one to two gels or three to six gummies/blocks) every hour.
After the Race – Once you’ve crossed the finish line – congratulations, by the way! – your focus is replacing the fluids you lost during the race. You can lose from two to five lbs during a marathon or from one to four during a half-marathon. For each pound you lost, drink 16-24 oz of fluid. If it’s an especially hot race, or you’re a heavy sweater, you probably lost more weight and need to re-hydrate properly. Grab a banana or another protein snack on your way back to the car. Your next meal should be protein and carbohydrate heavy, like a sub sandwich or a protein shake and chicken.
Learn more about Lindsay and SVSP’s Performance Nutrition here. If you fuel your body right, it will reward you during the race!