How to fuel for a marathon and marathon training. Well, friends, we’re transitioning into another marathon season. Last week we started our preparation talks with a blog regarding chiropractic care in order to prevent injury. Running a marathon requires an ample amount of preparation. We’re talking both the physical kind of preparation but also mental. Yes, your body has to physically be able to run those 26.2 miles. But it also has to mentally be able to get you through the mental walls. One way to ensure both your mind and body will make it to the end is through consuming the right fuel for a marathon.
You’ve been training. You’ve gone for long runs and pushed yourself through difficult workouts. Through proper form and chiropractic care, your injuries have been minimal. With only a few weeks to go, your mind is going to want to trick you. It’s going to tell you that you aren’t doing enough. You may even obsess over details. But to be honest, there’s only one last thing you need to do to ensure you run your best on race day. And that is maximizing your performance by fueling correctly for the race.
Before You Even Fuel for a Marathon: Hydrate
Remember, our bodies are roughly 60% water. Therefore it is crucial you are hydrating properly before the big race – or any race or workout for that matter! We are constantly losing water throughout our days. We lose water when we sweat when we urinate, and when we get sick. The most common rule of thumb is to drink roughly 8 cups of 8oz of water a day. Those 8 glasses roughly equate to two liters or half a gallon a day.
Before any run or workout, you should be consuming 2 cups of water or sports drink. It is best to drink your liquids 2 hours before training. This gives your kidneys time to process said liquids. It also gives you plenty of time to empty your bladder before you start. Additionally, you should consume another 5-10 oz of water before the start of your training.
Don’t forget to rehydrate after you train. A good rule of thumb is to drink 24 oz of fluid for every pound lost during the run/workout. If you don’t want to continually weigh yourself (and I don’t blame you) monitor the color of your urine. Contrary to popular belief, you want it to be pale yellow rather than clear.
Carbohydrate loading, carb loading for short, is a strategy often used by runners to fuel for a marathon. Endurance athletes of all kinds use this strategy to maximize the storage of glycogen (aka energy) in the muscles. Think of it as a bear preparing for hibernation. A runner consumes excess carbs to create extra fuel stored in the muscles. This allows for stronger performance on race day.
You most often hear of athletes promote getting ample amounts of protein in the diet. But its carbohydrates are the reason we are able to perform physical activity at all. Which may sound odd, as carbs are made out to be the enemy macronutrient. If you are preparing for a marathon, it is more important now than ever to make sure you are consuming enough carbohydrates. This is especially true for long training days.
How Do You Carb Load?
Carb loading should be done the week before the marathon. Roughly 3-4 days before the event, you should increase your carb intake to about 10-12 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight. Basically meaning 70% of your daily calories should be good carbohydrates. To compensate for the extra amount of carbs, try cutting back on foods higher in fat.
The second part of carb loading is remembering to scale back on training. You should take a real rest day the day before the marathon. If you have to move, just do some light stretching in order to prepare for the strain of the next day. But that’s it. By eating more carbs and reducing exercise, your muscle glycogen stores will improve! Meaning a better run when it matters!
But Make Sure to Get Good Nutrition in General
Yes, you should focus on upping those carbs. However, it’s important to practice proper nutrition when you need to fuel for a marathon. This means turning to plant-based foods full of macro and micronutrients. The protein you consume should come from beans, legumes, and lean sources of poultry. Try to avoid red meat and pork if possible. Also, while I know how much we all love cheese, dairy is another food group to try and steer clear from. Especially the day before race day. But don’t worry, you can reward yourself with all the ice cream you wish once the race is over!
The most important thing is to stay consistent. Experiment with your pre-race meal now so you can see what will work best for you. Not everyone responds well to the classic oatmeal and nut-butter. Experiment now so that there are no surprises during the big race!
Start Using Supplements
Sometimes diet alone just isn’t enough. Which is why it’s important to supplement to make sure your body is getting everything it needs! Try these supplements as you begin to fuel for a marathon.
Excessive and intense exercise puts a lot of strain on the body, especially on the heart. You should start supplementing with fish oil as it has the following benefits:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces the chance of abnormal heart rhythm
- Reduces the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke
- Reduction in inflammation – leading to quicker recovery
Essentially, adding fish oil to your training routine will not only help maximize the hard work you are putting in. It will also help to protect the hardest working part of your body during the race, your heart.
Magnesium is a key player in upping your endurance. In fact, it’s one of the most important minerals in our diet. Magnesium assists with energy and muscle contraction. Extreme endurance sports, like marathons, can deplete magnesium from your body, so it’s important to supplement. Magnesium has other health benefits as well; it promotes strong bones and muscles and supports cardiovascular health and nervous system function.
Vitamins C and E
Two other vitamins that runners should supplement are Vitamins C and E. Vitamins C and E are both great antioxidants that offer support for long-distance runners. Vitamin C is most well known for giving the immune system a boost. Yet it also fights oxidative damage caused by exercise and environmental toxins. Vitamin E also fights free radical damage caused by exercising for a long time. It also supports the heart and cardiovascular system.
Small amounts of this powerhouse mineral go a long way. Zinc works with enzymes in our body, many of which are involved in energy metabolism. Endurance athletes often lose zinc during exercise, so it’s important to supplement to build levels back up. Zinc is also needed to maintain a healthy immune system. You definitely don’t want to catch a cold a few days before race day!
DMG from Nutritional Frontiers
DMG is a dietary supplement that supports the immune system and circulatory, cardiovascular and neurological functions. It also aids in muscle recovery and endurance. Essentially it helps to support and protect the body in times of stress. Nutritional Frontiers sells two versions of this powerful supplement.
Click here for chewable tablets and here for a liquid version.
Nutrition is Only Part of It
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are so many different components of preparing for a marathon. Yes, proper nutrition is important, but so is your training, mental health, and recovery. Even though the Marathon is around the corner, it’s not too late to include chiropractic care into your training. There are numerous benefits to working with a chiropractor as you put your body through such strain! Contact us today to schedule an introductory chiropractic session. We can discuss your training routine and needs as part of my initial chiropractic workup for you as a new patient to our practice.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.