Marathon and Half Marathon Race Nutrition

Marathon and Half Marathon Race Nutrition

If you’re putting in the hard yards training for a marathon or half-marathon, developing a strategic fuelling strategy and plan is essential for running your best race. While sub-optimal fuelling might prove adequate for shorter, slower training runs, it can often be the factor which turns a great race into a disaster from the 10km point of the race.

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5 make-ahead vegetarian and pescatarian dinners

5 make-ahead vegetarian and pescatarian dinners

Busy? In a rush? Know that you should be eating more veggies and fish but not sure where to start? If you’re flying in the door after a busy day and need something easy to get on the table that’s healthy and tasty for your family here is a round up of my favourite vegetarian and pescatarian meals.

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Product Review - Huck Energy Gels

Product Review - Huck Energy Gels

I was excited to find a new energy gel for my clients with sensitive tummies needing a low FODMAP sports supplement*.  Here’s my review of Huck energy gels.

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LOW FODMAP SPORTS SUPPLEMENTS

LOW FODMAP SPORTS SUPPLEMENTS

Are you following a low FODMAP diet to manage your IBS symptoms?  FODMAPs are a large group of dietary sugars.  These sugars can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and fermented by bacteria to produce gas. Following a low FODMAP diet can help manage IBS symptoms. 

Endurance runners often suffer from stomach problems.  If you also suffer from a FODMAP intolerance, fueling for your long run can be quite tricky.    Here’s some tips to help you focus on your running, rather than your stomach, or wondering where the closest toilet is. 

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nuun electrolyte tablets

nuun electrolyte tablets

A long overdue post about my most used sports nutrition product - nuun electrolyte tablets.   Nuun tablets are added to water and replenish the electrolytes that are lost in sweat during exercise with only 1g of sugar (dextrose) per serve (compared to 36g of sugar in a sports drink).  Nuun contains the four main electrolytes that are vital in hydration and exercise performance and this year they will be the official hydration partner of the City2Surf

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Product Review - Huma Chia Energy Gel

Are you training for the Blackmores Running Festival, Trailwalker or the City to Surf?  Not sure if you need to take gels?  Looking for a gentler alternative?

Recently Fletch from Running Science gave me a couple of Huma Chia Energy Gels to try.  Of course being a nutritionist, the first thing I did was to go straight to the Nutrition Information Panel to see what I was getting:

 

So what’s in a Hüma Chia Energy Gel?


Pureed fruit. Sea Salt. Water. Ground Chia seeds. Brown Rice Syrup. Evaporated Cane Juice. Citric Acid. Coconut Water.  I could see that I was getting 24g carbs, 100 calories and a good range of electrolytes.  From a macro and micronutrient point of the Chia Energy Gel was very similar to a GU. Fantastic.  So I set off on my run.

What does iT taste like?

I tried the Strawberry Lemonade flavour and I have to say - it is absolutely delicious and such a great change from the normal overly sweet taste of most energy gels that I have tried.  It had a very strong limey taste - like Lime Marmalade.  If you suffer from "flavour fatigue" towards the tail end of a marathon this would be fantastic to add in.  

I was concerned I would have tiny bits of chia seeds floating around my teeth but the chia is milled very fine and not noticeable.  The consistency was slightly thinner than a GU gel but not watery.  

When would I need this product?

If you are running or cycling for more than 75 minutes you will benefit from ingesting approximately 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour.  The use of a mix of Glucose (short and long chain) and Fructose increases carbohydrate absorption which is important in multi-hour events.

If your stomach doesn't handle traditional gels or sports drinks you might find the Huma Gels gentler on your stomach.  

Several of the the Huma Chia Energy Gels contain caffeine, and caffeine is proven to reduce the perception of fatigue with the ideal dose being 1-3mg per kilo of bodyweight.  The Strawberry Lemonade flavour had 25mg of caffeine so for a 60kg runner you could take several of these over the course of an event (assuming you are used to the effects of caffeine).  If you don't react well to caffeine there are caffeine-free flavours.

Don't forget to always consume your energy gel (regardless of brand) with water so that your body can process the gel.

Huma?

Where have you heard that word before?  If you've read Born to Run you'll remember the Tarahumara - a tribe of Mexican Indians who regularly compete in epic 100+ mile races as part of their culture. To fuel themselves on these ultramarathons, they use a special chia seed blend.  You can't read Born to Run without getting inspired to run on chia!

Are you training for an endurance event?  Did you know that using a scientific approach to nutrition in a marathon takes, on average, nearly 11 minutes OFF an amateur runner's finish time?  My 8 week Endurance Nutrition program focuses on supporting your marathon training with making nutritious food choices a priority so that you can get to the start line feeling great.  On race day you will be armed with well trialled strategies that work for you and will help you run your best fuelled marathon, half marathon or triathlon.

If you are interested in trying Huma Gels drop in to  Running Science and check them out. 

 

Carbohydrate Loading for endurance events

As I enter the taper period for my fourth marathon I thought I would write down how to carb-load successfully.  I remember all too clearly the feeling of hitting the "wall" from my first half marathon where I just wanted to lie down and have a nap at the 17k mark.  Fast forward 12 more half marathons, 3 marathons and  a sports nutrition qualification, it turns out carb loading is much more than a bowl of pasta the night before a race.

For races lasting longer than 1.5 hours such as a marathon or half marathon, it’s beneficial to “carbohydrate load” for the 2-3 days before your race. The carbs are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. During the full or half marathon you will burn both fat and glycogen stores for energy, but it is harder for your body to convert fat to fuel. The goal is to arrive at the start line with your body’s glycogen stores full from carbohydrates to delay fatigue and performance decline. A full tank of glycogen and regular carbohydrate and fluid intake during the race will help you avoid hitting “the wall”. For it to work properly the carb load needs to be combined with an exercise taper as well.

Start your carbohydrate load 2-3 days before the race. You can’t fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal, so a big pre-race pasta is not enough. For a Sunday marathon, I start on Thursday. For a Sunday half marathon I start on Friday. Carbohydrates should become about 70% of your diet. You don’t eat more during the load, you just replace protein, fibre and fat with carbohydrate. Be smart about your choice of carbs - although lasagne is delicious it’s very high in fat and protein so you’d be better off choosing pasta with a tomato based sauce. I prefer to make my dinner smaller and my lunch bigger on the day before the event so I have plenty of time to digest it.

You should be targeting between 8-12 grams of carbohydrate per kilo of body weight over the carb load period. So a 60 kg runner would need to consume between 480 and 720 grams of carbs over the day. As a guide 2 slices of white toast contain about 50 grams of carbs. Personally I can only manage to get in closer to the 8 grams per kilo target, the 12g/kg guide is more for ultra endurance events like ironman. If it’s your first time carb loading I’d suggest sticking to the lower end of the range. I add in some Gatorade and fruit juices to help top up my stores as I struggle to eat enough carbs otherwise.

The carbs you choose should be low in fibre to reduce the chances of getting an upset stomach during the race.   This is the time to choose white bread, rice or pasta over wholemeal. You can go back to your quinoa after the marathon. You can also enjoy some of the foods you might not normally eat such as a crumpet with honey.

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You might find you gain some weight, this is because the glycogen stores water with it, which helps ensure you are well hydrated to start the race. You’ll use this water during the race so don’t worry about the water weight - think of yourself as a camel! Your pee before you start the race should be light in colour to show that you are adequately hydrated.

The AIS website is very useful in terms of figuring out how many carbs are in a serve.

The following diet is suitable for a 60kg runner aiming to carbohydrate load:

This sample plan provides approximately 10,153 kJ, 427 g carbohydrate, 74 g protein and 42 g fat. This is not an exact plan, you might need to consume more or less depending on your weight, sex and training volume.

Wishing you all the best on your 42.2 kilometre victory lap - you’ve done the work, now enjoy the run!

Want to know more about how to fuel properly for your next endurance event?  Check out my 8 week endurance nutrition program here.

 

References

Bourke, L (2010) Clinical Sports Nutrition 4rd edition. Mc Graw HillAustralian Institute of Sport Carbohydrate Loading Factsheet

Meal plan calculated on Foodzone