Planning to run a marathon this year?
6 tips for good nutrition while training for a marathon:
- Dehydration is one of the top two reasons runners ‘hit the wall’ during a marathon: Don’t wait to be thirsty to take a drink, as thirst indicates that you are already partially dehydrated! Drink up to 250/300 ml of fluid every 20-30 minutes on a long run and make sure you drink at least two litres of water every day.
- If you’re on a long run of over one hour, water will quench your thirst too quickly before you’re fully re-hydrated, so opt for either a sports drink or make your own (see the recipe above).
- For a run longer than one hour, you need to not only replenish your fluids but also to refuel with carbohydrates. Choose a sport drink, or gels and water, or food and water.
- Be careful not to mix water and sports drinks. You will only be diluting the carbohydrate (energy) from the sports drink, which will delay the supply of energy to your muscles.
- Eat complex carbohydrates (whole grains, wholemeal bread and pasta, quinoa) during training. Use simple carbohydrates (glucose, sugar, dried fruits) during a long run/marathon, for a quick supply of energy.
- Don’t forget protein and good fats! Athletes tend to focus too much on eating lots of carbohydrates for energy, but protein and good fats (omega 3 oils in particular) are essential for muscle repair, hormone production and balance, good skin, and healthy, well-lubricated ligaments and joints.
*metabolism: The rate at which an organism transforms food into energy and body tissue.
International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) (2007), Nutrition for athletics: The 2007 IAAF Consensus Statement.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) (2004), Consensus on Sports Nutrition, 2003, J Sports Science, vol 22 (1): X
Bean, A. The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition, 2009
Dr F. Batmanghelidj. Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, 2000
Erasmus, U. Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, 17th printing. 2006