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How to set up a nutrition strategy for a marathon?

A physical trainer (who will recognize himself) told me some time ago: "I train them 3 to 5 times a week and they eat 20 to 30 times, ... we have to explain to them that there is so much to gain in the plate that in the training .... "

Nutrition is one of the most discussed topics among marathon runners. What to eat before? How to refuel during? How to recover afterwards? These questions are common, asked by both beginners and more experienced runners. The aim of this article is to provide answers to these questions by helping you to understand the challenges and the importance of the nutritional strategy.

The question arises long before the start of the race: just like training, the nutritional strategy is prepared and implemented well. upstream. Together, these are the two factors that will most influence your performance on race day. While the importance of training is known and assimilated (very few runners show up on the starting line without having trained before), nutrition does not attract as much attention. It is given very little time, it is taken for granted. Or at least it was, before you started reading this article.


Nutrition Strategy: The first steps

The first phase of preparation takes place many weeks before the race. The idea is to cover the bases before the start of the race: where are the refreshment points? what distance between each? what will the weather be like? While you won't have any impact on it, you can prepare for it. Also remember to find out about the food distributed at the refreshment stations: it would be appropriate to include the same foods in your preparations. If it's something you can't tolerate, finding it out several weeks before you still has time to work on finding an alternative and test it before the race.

The first step is to discover which nutrition strategy is most effective for you. It involves trying different foods and products but also working the timing, which is crucial.

Full of carbohydrates

In the days preceding the race, the goal is to constitute muscle carbohydrate stores consistent. For this, it is enough to eat carbohydrates, but no matter howt. Sorry, there will be no feast on the program, just a rebalancing of your nutritional plate in order to release a larger share of your daily calorie intake for carbohydrates. Just before the race, especially if you have already had digestive problems, it is advisable to eat a substantial snack at noon and a more modest evening meal : some even prefer to avoid meats and fish at night.


The pre-race breakfast

Breakfast is a key moment because it allows the liver to replenish its carbohydrate reserves that are started during the night by brain activity. A high carbohydrate breakfast helps to prevent fatigue. Eat between 3 at 4 hours before departure. Also remember to hydrate yourself abundantly. To measure your hydration, a simple method compensates for its lack of elegance by its effectiveness: the color of the urine. A light, almost transparent color is a good sign, while if you see dark-colored urine, one more drink can only do you good.

In the hour before departure, it may be a good idea to have an energy drink. To sip slowly, in small doses. This will allow you to leave with the maximum energy.

However, remember to apply this technique several times during your long training sessions to avoid any rejection on race day.


Nutrition strategy during the race

There are two things to watch out for during a race: your carbohydrate intake and your hydration.

Regarding hydration, your main concern will be your sweat. Each person has his own sensitivity about it, know that the stomach of a runner can release up to 800 mL of fluids per hour. To avoid being dehydrated, it is therefore advisable to drink at a similar pace to your evacuation rate by the sweatr.

Regarding carbohydrates, studies suggest that the body is able to use up to 60g of carbs per hour. A target intake between 30g and 60g therefore seems appropriate. The main challenge with carbohydrates is find the right balance to have the maximum energy available by avoiding any problem of digestion.

Some sources of carbohydrates for example:

A banana, the favorite fruit of runners: 24-30g

Energy gel : between 20-27g, watch out for variations in portion sizes.

Energy bar : 20-40g depending on the bars.

Energy drink : between 40 and 80gr

The intestine can learn and be used : Using gels, bars or energy drinks regularly (during workouts) will allow you to tolerate them better and better. The trick is to try different foods, find your preferences and what you digest easily to arrive at an optimized nutrition strategy over time.

The electrolytes can also help with the absorption of carbohydrates. Even if you will find some mineral salts in your drink, gel or bars, it is important to mineralize also on a daily basis

Finally, there is one last element, a real secret boot for some athletes: la caffeine. Although its effects on energy and fatigue are true, the challenge with caffeine is find the right dosage. The optimal dose is on average around 3mg per kg body weighte, either 180mg for a person of 60kg or 240mg for a person of 80kg. An espresso contains between 70 and 100 mg. Many energy drinks and gels contain caffeine in varying proportions.

Finally, whatever your favorite foods and quantities, timing is essential for a nutrition strategy.


Nutrition strategy after the marathon?

After the marathon, there is often no rule, the nutrition strategy disappears. Indeed, after such a substantial and duly prepared effort, it is tempting to go overboard and "have fun": sausages, Hamburger, ...

However, for those who have successfully preserved a hint of discipline, the recovery phase is just as important as the preparation phase. Hydrating, mineralizing, replenishing your glycogen and protein reserves are the main concerns in order to start a healthy recovery.

Nutrition strategy the rest of the time?

It is therefore advisable to indulge yourself certainly while not losing in mind the balance of your nutritional plate: having fun with a plate full of good things.

Also remain vigilant about possible deficiencies due to repeated efforts. We offer many cures supplements that allow you to stay in shape and manage your passion for running over the length ...

In summary:

 Click on the image to enlarge can help you put together a pack with you to provide you with energy inputs, maintain a optimal hydration and finally heal your recovery.

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