Continuing from Train for the Steamboat Marathon: Part 1 of 4, I am already doing training runs in the 2-hour zone, so nutrition and hydration have become important and integral to my training and recovery. Once my tank hits empty, it’s extremely difficult to recover. At that point, I don’t feel so good and my muscles start to ache. I know that 30 minutes into a long run, well before my muscles are depleted, I need to start feeding my body some calories or carbohydrates. I follow my NASM Personal Training Book, and add in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates each hour if I’m running longer than 75 minutes.
When and How to Start Training with Nutrition
We all have different bodies and needs, so it’s best to start training with nutrition at least 60 to 90 days before race day on June 7 to learn what works best for you. Start to consider pieces of your nutrition and hydration plan for training and race day.
As I try out variations of nutrition and refueling during trainings runs, I keep track of what I consume, how much I have, and how my body responds. I consider questions like: Did I feel totally energized? Was I able to keep my pace constant, but then hit the wall at the end of the run? And very important: Did my stomach agree? I keep these questions in mind and log everything, from what I ate the night before to breakfast the day of, and how I felt during my long run and recovery.
I’ll admit it has been a challenge to find foods my body likes, and there are so many nutrition options out there for athletes, so I didn’t know where to start. I finally found a couple things I thought could work. I heard through the grapevine that Hammer Nutrition is very good, so I’m giving it a try. It’s called Perpetuem. First time around, I followed the instructions to mix it with water, and started thinking I was going to throw up when I tried it! Nevertheless, I went for it. Another thing I started trying is Honey Stinger Waffles, and I love them! Plus they’re a great local Steamboat company.
For hydration and electrolyte replacement, I like to find out if there’s a sports drink sponsor for the race, and I train with that so my body gets used to it. If I cannot prepare in that way, come race day I carry my own sports drink – whichever one that I have been training with.
Before Race Day
For the few days before race day, I don’t like to eat heavy, super salty, or fatty meals. Especially for breakfast on race day, I to eat what I know I can easily digest. I tend to stick to the same breakfast I’ve been eating before long training runs. My breakfast of choice, which I call the “Breakfast of Champions,” is peanut butter, banana, and honey on light bread. Two hours before marathon go-time, I begin hydrating by slowly drinking 16 ounces of water. If you’re used to drinking electrolyte-replacing fluids before a race, go ahead. But it’s best not to try anything new the few days before or on race day. Even if a friend or fellow athlete tells me, “Oh, this is good and really helps me with energy,” if I haven’t trained with it, I steer clear on race day.
After the Race
Remember that your body has gone through a lot, so continue to pay attention to what you eat. For example, if I eat sugary foods after a race, like a cookie or a coke, my stomach cramps up really badly. I usually wait 30 minutes before I eat something solid. Remember, you’ve been running for 4 hours or more, and you’ve been consuming foods, gels and liquids that your body processes easily, so your gut might not like the introduction of solid foods right away. I train my body for race recovery as well, as this helps lessen actual recovery time on race day.
There is a lot to consider, but incorporating nutrition and hydration into your training will help you prepare and feel confident on race day. Feel free to contact me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep up the good work! I can’t wait to see you all out there at the Steamboat Marathon!