Countdown to the Marathon: A Runner’s Diet

Source: http://mashable.com
Source: http://mashable.com

COUNTDOWN TO THE MARATHON

Running a marathon, Like Boston or NYC which is coming up on November 1st, takes months of physical (and mental) preparation.

Hydration and nutrition are 2 critical pieces to ensure a successful and healthy race.

The week before…

  • In the week leading up to the race your diet shouldn’t change too much. As your training is likely decreasing you should continue to have a standard well-balanced diet with lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.

A few days before…

  • In the days leading up, hydration should be the main focus. In order to ensure adequate hydration on the day of you should be drinking plenty of fluids (64-80 oz., or more depending on your workouts) consistently every day in the week leading up.

The night before…

  • The night before a race is a critical time to maximize your glycogen stores, which is the energy stored in your muscles. You’re going to want to plan on eating a high carb meal the night prior to ensure proper glycogen build up. You also want to avoid high fat consumption the night before. Our bodies can burn fat to use as energy however it is a less efficient fuel source. Studies show a high fat diet can decrease overall performance and decrease time to fatigue – meaning you hit the wall sooner.  Keep the high carb meal healthy with fresh marinara sauce, pasta and bread and a couple lean turkey meatballs.

30 minutes before… 

  • Immediately before the race (about 30 minutes) plan to have a small meal with simple carbs (low fiber) and protein. The simple carbs will break down quickly acting as an immediate fuel source to give you that burst of energy before tapping into your glycogen stores. Eating a moderate amount of protein (15-20 grams) prior to the race has been shown to increase performance and speed up recovery – win, win! Some of my go to recommendations are PBJ on English muffin, banana and Greek yogurt, fruit and granola bar (<4 grams fiber), or protein shake (10-15 grams protein) blended with fruit.

After you’ve completed the marathon…

  • For the best recovery post-race, load up on protein as soon as possible. I always encourage clients to have a protein bar nearby to consume after crossing the finish line. Lean protein and hydration is going to be needed to rebuild your muscle fibers in the days to come! Stay hydrated with at least 64-80 oz. of fluids daily and incorporate lean protein at each meal after the race.

unnamed-1Amanda Foti, MS, RD, CDN

Senior Dietitian

Amanda is a Registered Dietitian and a New York State Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She has broad experience managing disease with nutrition and lifestyle in the clinical setting, and extensive training in cognitive behavioral therapy in relation to emotional eating and weigh management counseling. Amanda currently works one-on-one with clients developing personalized weight management plans that address nutrition, activity and lifestyle.

5 Nutrition Tips for Running a Marathon

1. Nothing beats the impact of hydration on performance. Before the race, let thirst be your guide to the finish line and use a sports drink to replace fluids during the race. If you are racing just to participate and finish, then drink when you are thirsty throughout the event.  If you are racing to win or achieve your personal record then have a structured fluid replacement plan during the race and stick with it!

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2. Getting the proper pre-and-post training nutrition is very important for daily recovery and fueling for the competition. Two important factors when picking meals or snacks before and after workouts are: the combination of carbohydrates and protein, and convenience. For a light pre-training meal try a USANA low-glycemic protein shake. Consuming low-glycemic foods provides sustainable energy, which is ideal for long distance training. When carbohydrates combine with protein, they deliver fuel to your muscles more rapidly. Moreover, the liquid snack easily empties from your stomach just before training or the race. For a post-training snack that contains a good amount of protein and fiber, grab a nutrition bar. Personally, I like to add a chocolate milk to enhance rehydration and boost recovery. They’re convenient and easy to consume after training.

3. Healthy vitamin D levels will do your training a world of good by supporting balanced hormone and metabolic function. Eat fatty fish, drink vitamin D fortified milk, and include a vitamin D supplement daily.

4. Put your food and supplements to work for you. Target most of your carbs around exercise (pre, during, and post) to maximize their fueling function. This also helps control body fat to keep you light on your feet. Supplement your training diet with all the B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, and choline) to support optimal energy and protein metabolism.

5. To support cellular, vascular, and joint health, eat at least 3 servings of fatty fish per week. Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, black cod, halibut, catfish, crab, oysters, or shrimp are a few examples. Also, supplement your diet daily with 1000 mg DHA+EPA.

image001Susan Kleiner, Ph.D, RD, CNS, FACN, FISSN, is a high performance nutritionist and foremost authority on nutrition for strength and power. In addition to having a Ph.D. in sports nutrition, she’s a founder and fellow of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, fellow of the American College of Nutrition, and the best-selling author of numerous books, including Power Eating—written specifically for athletes to build muscle.