Nutrition plays a key role in keeping your pace during a race
Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center will provide a post on nutrition topics. Have questions or ideas for future topics? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. This week, Shanti Lewis, RD, CNSD, CSP, weighs in on what to eat before, during and after the Baltimore Running Festival.
The Baltimore Running Festival kicks off
Sunday Saturday with a marathon, half marathon, relay race, 5K and kids' race. Nutrition plays a key role in optimizing performance on race day. It is critical to track how you hydrate, fuel and recover as you train to perform your best, especially if you are running the marathon.
In the days prior to the race, make sure you keep your tank full. One of the most important eating habits of a person training for a marathon is to eat balanced meals containing grains, protein, fruit/vegetables and a small amount of fat every three to four hours in the weeks before the race. Hydration, adequate nutrition before and during the race day, and a recovery meal are essential to performing your best on race day.
The following tips will help you prepare as the marathon and half marathon approach.
Hydrate, Morning, Noon, and Night
Drink only plain water if exercising less than 60 minutes per day
Use sports drinks (containing water, carbohydrate, and sodium) only if exercising more than 60 minutes
Drink 2 cups of water 1-2 hours before your run
Drink 6-12 oz of water every 15-20 minutes during your run
Weigh yourself before and after a run and drink 2-3 cups of water for every pound lost
After a long run or race, continue to drink fluids until urine is almost clear
Carry a water bottle with you everywhere
Monitor for signs of dehydration while you train, such as thirst, weakness, dizziness, lack of coordination, muscle cramps and nausea/vomiting
Dinner before the Race
Limit alcohol, sodium and caffeine
Aim for drinking 2 cups of water per hour
Try a high carbohydrate dinner to spare muscle glycogen
Avoid high fiber and high fat foods since they are harder to digest
Choose foods that are low fat and low fiber
Some examples of dinner foods could include pasta with a tomato-based sauce, rice and vegetable stir-fry with a small amount of lean meat, grilled vegetable sandwich or sushi rolls.
Know the Buzz about Caffeine
Caffeine may help with you perform at a higher intensity
Limited studies show that caffeine causes dehydration
Stick with a moderate does of caffeine 70-210 mg (approximately one cup of coffee) an hour prior to exercise to enhance performance
Maintain Energy Levels during the Race
Aim for mostly simple carbohydrate, such as sports drinks, energy gels, jelly beans
Use trial and error to find out what is well tolerated and easily digestible for you
Avoid drinks or food that has fructose as the first ingredient
Choose sports drinks containing water, sugar (7 percent), sodium and potassium
Avoid drinking soda and juice
Optimal recovery and repair is within the first 4-6 hours after the race
Consume a high carbohydrate beverage (i.e. Gatorade) within 15 minutes post-race
Try a high carbohydrate snack with a little protein, such as crackers and low fat string cheese within 2 hours post-race
4 hours post-race- eat a high carbohydrate meal with moderate amount of protein, such as spaghetti with lean ground beef, rice and chicken
Choose simple carbohydrates to maximize muscle glycogen stores
Drink fluids until urine is clear or a pale yellow
You can check out www.runnersworld.com and www.active.com/running for more information about different races, training tips, nutrition advice, etc.
Tell us your favorite marathon training foods in the comments.
References: Burkle, L. Preparation for Competition. In: Burke L, Dean V. eds. Clinical Sports Nutrition. McGraw-Hill Companies, Australia, 2006; 355-384. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance, JADA 2009; 109: 509-527.