Since I’m running in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon today I thought that I’d share some general sports nutrition with you.
It’s not good to go for a long run on a full stomach but you also don’t want to go without any fuel to burn. Try to have something small and easy to digest about an hour before you race. It’s also not the time to experiment. Don’t try eating anything you’re not used to eating pre-run. Things to steer clear of are high fat and high fibre foods as they’re more difficult to digest. Unlike what we’re usually recommending as dietitians, simple carbs are the way to go. My pre-race breakfast will be a small banana and a small glass of coconut water (yes, I know it’s not a magical elixir but I like the taste and it’s got less sugar than juice – in my experience I always get stitches after drinking juice no matter how much I water it down). I’ll probably also have an energy gel about 15 minutes before start time. More pre-event nutrition info from the Australian Institute of Sport.
During Event Nutrition:
Glucose is what you want here. I go for the energy gels. I know other people who run with gummy candy. Again, race day is no time to experiment. Stick with things that you know will work for you. Also, if you’re not running at least a half marathon you really don’t need to fuel when you’re running. Water, perhaps, but that’s about it. Let your thirst dictate when you drink. I usually do the bulk of my rehydrating post-run and just stop at one or two water stations during a half (depending on the weather). As this is my first full marathon, I’m not sure how many stations I’ll be stopping at yet. I let my body decide for me. I also only have a couple of sips of water at each stop. Having too much water sloshing around in your belly while you’re running is not a pleasant feeling!
I usually don’t feel very hungry after a long run. I’ll usually have something small at the post-race meeting area. Ideally, you want to get something in that contains both protein and carbohydrates. I’m a big fan of Nuun tablets for rehydrating. I used to get terrible headaches later in the day after a long run until I started using them. Once I’ve showered then I’m usually ready for a proper meal. Here’s a link to more info on recovery nutrition from the Australian Institute of Sport and one from the Coaching Association of Canada.