Training by gradually increasing the intensity of the pace or the distance is the best way to train.
In all honesty, trying to do a marathon without training will lead to an ambulance being called. The physical training the nutrition you provide your body before, during and after is also key to making this impressive feat achievable.
What do you need to consume before a marathon?
Fluids! It is important to start a race well hydrated. Monitoring the colour of your urine can be a good self-assessment tool, which should a clear, pale-yellow colour. If it is very dark, the athlete should drink extra water to rehydrate.
400-600 ml of fluid should be drunk 2-3 hours before a marathon, providing adequate time to go to the bathroom before the start.
1-2 hours before you train you need fuel which is:
- Rich in carbohydrate - prime your fuel stores
- Low in fibre – reduce likelihood of gut upset
- Low in fat–slow to digest
- Low in Protein – slow to digest
Ideas for foods that include these attributes are:
- Small bowl of oats + fruit + yoghurt
- Crumpets + banana + honey
- Small bowl pasta + tomato-based sauce
- Fruit smoothie
- Sough dough rye toast (more easily digested than regular wheat-based bread) + banana + honey.
- Raisin toast + jam
- Tub of creamed rice + canned fruit
- Tin of sweetcorn
What do you need to consume during the marathon?
To keep your muscles fuelled with their preferred energy source being glycogen every hour you need 30-60 grams of carbohydrates.
This is when gels, lollies like snakes or jellybeans are a good go to. Another choice is to use sports drinks with included carbohydrate to not only rehydrate but add energy back to the body.
It is more beneficial to sip fluid regularly over the marathon rather than trying to ingest a lot of fluid in one go.
You could use visual cues such as landmarks to remind you to drink can be a good way to remember.
Every 60 minutes you need between 600-800mls of fluids. Both the food and fluids need to be practised during training as the gut needs time to adapt.
What do you need to consume after a marathon?
If you are not training again that day, you can wait for your next meal or snack to recover. However, if you are training again that day it is best, to have your recovery meal or snack within 60 minutes of finishing his training. After exercising you need approximately 40-80g of carbohydrate with 20-30g of protein.
Foods containing 50g of carbohydrates:
- 2 medium- large bananas
- 15 dried apricots
- 2 slices thick sliced bread
- 1 large bowl (60g) breakfast cereal
- 150-160g cooked pasta/ rice
- 3 (25g) cereal bars
- 1 large potato (250g)
In one meal you can only use around 20-40g of protein for muscle synthesis and repair.
- 30g scoop of Australian Natural Protein Company Whey Protein provides 20g of protein
- 65g of beef, pork, or lamb or 80g chicken = approximately 20-25g protein
- 30g nuts, seeds, and nut/seed butters = approximately 10-15g protein
- 1 large egg = approximately 7g protein
- 100g tuna = approximately 30g protein
- 100-150g legumes = approximately 15-20g protein
- 2 slices of cheese = approximately 10g protein
- ½ cup of oats = approximately 7g protein
- 1 cup cooked quinoa = approximately 8g protein
- 100g tofu = 12-15g protein
- 100g yoghurt = approximately 10g protein
- 2 slices seedy whole grain bread = approximately 12g protein
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter = approximately 6g protein
The best way to determine how much fluid you need after the marathon is to weigh yourself before then afterwards.
The amount of weight lost is fluid and 150% needs to be replaced.
You also need to replace lost electrolytes which are essential for muscle contractions, healthy blood pressure levels and maintain fluid balance in your body.
Take home message: As you can tell, preparing for a marathon takes dedication and commitment. This is no easy feat, and you are putting your body through some hard miles. Make sure you are giving your body the fuel and fluids required to make it through and feel amazing across the finish line.