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Nutrition for a Marathon

It is difficult to know what to eat and when to eat it when your in training for a big event. What do you eat before and how long before the event? What do you eat and drink during and after the event?

Well… It is actually down to trial and error, and what works best for you.

There are some guidelines that you can follow to help you make the best choices as to what to eat and drink:

Before training you want to eat a meal at least 2-3 hours before you start so it has enough time to digest.  About an hour or 45 minutes before, have something light, like a energy bar/cereal bar or piece of fruit to give you that extra bit of energy. During your long training runs try different foods and drinks to see what works for you and what your comfortable having on the move. In general you don’t want to eat anything solid, energy gels or energy jelly shots are best and it is recommended to take 1 every hour of exercise. Drink when needed. After a training run, recover with a protein shake or chocolate milk 30 minutes after stopping, followed by a meal containing at least 20 grams of protein about and hour after.

Carbo loading:

This needs to be done 2 weeks before your race, so your body can get used to the amount of carbs your eating, otherwise you can get a lot of bowel discomfort during the race. Carbohydrate intake only needs to increase by 5-10% of your normal daily intake. Do not carbo load the day before as this will make you sluggish

On race day:

You want to eat breakfast about 2-3 hours before the event. This should include carbs and a little bit of protein e.g.: Porridge with nuts and berries, Eggs on toast, or pancakes. Drink at least a 500ml-litre of water. One hour before,  have a light snack, either a piece of fruit, energy bar/cereal bar and take on some water. Continue to sip a sports drink until you start the race.

During the marathon use what you have trialled. So if that was a gel an hour and a sip of water or sports drink when you need it, continue that strategy and do not change, as your body might react differently to the change. Drinking water is fine during the race when you need it, but you also need to take on electrolytes such as potassium and salt. This compensates for the amount of water your drinking, therefore add a salt tablet into one of your drinks on the way round.

After the race, enjoy a post race recovery snack that is full of protein, such as a protein bar or shake, banana and peanut butter, chocolate milk, yoghurt. This should be between the time to finish and up to 30 minutes after. Up to an hour after the race, try to eat a recovery meal which should contain at least 20-40 grams of protein, some carbohydrates and veg, Such as chicken, rice and salad chilli con carne, turkey steaks with pasta. Make sure you continue to drink lots of water after the race.

Later on in the evening, try to consume something else with a little bit of protein in just for extra recovery time. This is something like peanut butter on rice cakes or yoghurt.

Energy gels:

Some energy gels are great and contain what you need to keep you going through the race. Others are called Isogels which contain more water so you don’t have to drink so much on the run (although this is not ideal). There are also gels that contain caffeine. These are very good and work well, however, if you take these you have to continue taking the caffeine throughout the race, otherwise it will have the opposite effect on you, and you will feel sluggish and tired.

Foods To Boost Cardio:

Champagne: Certain chemicals in champagne reduce the loss of nitric oxide from the blood, improving circulation. 3 glasses a week

Marmite: The benfotiamine in the spread has a beneficial effect on your cardiovascular system. 3x on toast per week

Steak: Each footstrike damages red blood cells, lowering your level of iron-The key to getting oxygen to the working muscles, heme iron in steak is easily absorbed. 2x 150g fillet per week

Apples: The quercetin found in an apple a day will improve lung capacity and protect against pollution. 5 per week

Avocado: The sodium, potassium and magnesium found in this fruit improved lung volume and oxygen flow. 3 halves per week

Tofu: Bean curd is a source of unsaturated fats. It is found that eating these fats post-exercise boosts blood flow by up to 45%.

Run Faster

Coffee: Runners who had caffeine one hour before an eight mile run improved their times by an average of 23.8 seconds, according to a research study. For maximum benefit, lower your intake by one cup a day,  take 10 days off, then reintroduce before a race. Per week: 6 cups.

Bran Flakes: Betaine in bran helps cell function and prevents dehydration so you can train harder, for longer. Per week: 30g x3

Watermelon: Citrulline-an amino acid in watermelon-buffers muscle fatigue, which allows you to push harder in training. Per week: 300gx3.

Beetroot: In a study read, subjects ran a 5K 5% faster after eating beetroot than after eating cranberries. It boosts blood flow. Per week: 3

To prevent injury:

Blueberries: Polyphenols found in them improve bone strength. Per week: 3 handfuls

Honey: The amino acids found in honey help your body absorb bone-boosting Calcium effectively. Per week:3 tbsp.

Smoked mackerel: the fish’s omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce joint pain and shorten the duration of morning joint stiffness. Per week: fillet x 2

Red pepper: This packs a more powerful punch of vitamin C- crucial for repairing connective tissue and cartilage- than any citrus fruit. Per week: 3

Pumpkin seeds: These are packed full of magnesium, which fights the ageing of cells that create collagen in your tendons and ligaments. Per week: 20gx3

 

 

 

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