BBC Good Food: essentials for marathon final prep
BBC Good Food.com has curated a wealth of information including last minute tips for marathon runners ahead of this weekend’s race. Sports nutritionist James Collins has advised Team GB on their Olympic nutrition and here provides essential advice and tips for the day before, during and after the big race.
”Fuelling for training is vital for optimal performance” says James. ”The main fuel for training is carbohydrate, which is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen, which the body draws upon for energy. The body is only able to store a relatively small amount of carbohydrate, which is why keeping it topped up is so important.”
On the morning of the Marathon, James Collins suggests overall fuelling; “What you eat on the morning of your event should link into an overall fuelling strategy that you have developed during your training. Eat a meal two - four hours before the start of the race, and include a range of foods depending on your taste.”
Good breakfast options for the morning of your race may include:
- Pancakes and mixed toppings, such as fruits and nuts
- Porridge oats with milk or soy milk
- Granola with milk or soy milk
- Multigrain bread topped with eggs
- Fruit salad and low-fat Greek yogurt
- Bagels or breakfast muffins with low-fat cottage cheese
- Fruit juice or a fruit smoothie
For energy-boosting during the race, If you already regularly consume caffeine as part of your diet, this can be a usual alternative to carbohydrates for an energy boost. There are commercially available sports drinks and gels containing caffeine, which can be extremely useful, especially later in the race.
James suggests refuelling during the race to keep up energy levels;
"Don’t rely on hunger as a cue to refuel during the race. As a general rule, practice and refine your fuelling during training and find a strategy you’re comfortable with. Taking on carbohydrate little and often, for a constant energy supply, is often the most efficient strategy."
As a rough guide, approximately 30-60g of carbohydrate an hour will be your target during the marathon, as the body can absorb this amount and use it for energy on the move. Carbohydrate drinks are typically the most efficient way to meet these targets, alongside good hydration. Carbohydrate gels will also be readily available on race day and are rapidly absorbed. Small pieces of banana, cereal bars and jellied sweets also can help to offset hunger.
The following will provide around 30g of carbohydrate - see what works best for you and experiment with quantities during training:
- 500ml bottle of commercially available sports drink
- One and a half carbohydrate energy gels
- A small handful of jellied sweets
- One large banana
- One large cereal bar or carbohydrate based energy bar (choose a low-fibre option)
Finally, that all important recovery post run, James suggests eating within 30 mins after running - ”Your body needs essential nutrients to kick start the growth and repair process after a hard training session. Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source, and are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. As the body can only store a certain amount of carbohydrate, once depleted through exercise these reserves need to be replaced before your next training session”
Protein is vital for the growth and repair of muscle tissue and as hard training depletes the body’s stores it is important to refuel with high-protein snacks as soon as possible. Ensuring you replenish stores after each training session can significantly reduce muscle soreness the following day. If you can’t face eating straight after a run, introduce fluids to your recovery strategy.
20g of protein is the magic number that you need to hit to optimise the recovery process after training. The following snacks will help you reach this target:
- 500ml milkshake
- Natural yogurt based fruit smoothie
- Sandwich with lean meats, eggs, or low-fat cheese
- Greek yogurt, granola and mixed berries
For further information, the BBC Good Food website offers a huge range of tips and suggestions for diet around exercise at its marathon hub containing all the information runners will need this weekend.