What should I eat when running a marathon or a long run?

As of April 2020, you’re probably not too worried about any races thanks to current events. However, more and more of us are taking advantage of our ‘free-time’. While having big goals might not be for everyone at this moment in time, there’s no reason to fit on the sofa all day, you can still get in the habit of staying fueled the right way!

Fueling the right way on the vegan diet

A healthy diet that provides you with all of the nutrients you need is vital for anyone who undertakes exercise. However, when exercise becomes an endurance event like a marathon then it is important to make sure that you get your nutrition right during exercise. The last thing any of us wants is to hit the wall, bonk or crash. We’ve all been there, it sucks

So, if you are wondering what you should eat before you run, then we have you covered.

It’s Down to Carbohydrates

When it comes to running marathons, everyone has heard of hitting the wall and it is something that every runner will fear. While some might believe that there is no such thing, it is very real and it can happen to anyone, regardless of how much training you have done. This phenomenon occurs when the amount of carbohydrates which are stored in the muscles as glycogen run low. Your brain and muscles will begin to feel extremely tired and once someone hits the wall during a marathon, every yard they cover will feel like a tiny piece of hell. Challenging isn’t the word! However, it is possible to avoid hitting the wall, the first step is carb loading carb-loading prior to a race. While running you really need a BIG hit of energy from sugars and carbohydrates to boost your glycogen levels.  This is a great chance to enjoy some sugar. My favourite? Jelly Beans!

low sugar flapjack

The Importance of Protein

It is not just about carbohydrates because protein also plays a vital role in preparing for a marathon. During training and after every run, the muscles become damaged and so, they need repairing. In order to do this, it is important for runners to consume protein to help repair the tissue and develop new tissue. Protein is a crucial building block for the body and that makes it important for runners to eat foods that are high in protein. This can include the likes of milk, cheese, eggs, white meat such as chicken or a healthy protein snack like our protein cookies which have a nice little boost to get you going.

It’s all in the preparation

Your training plan should be well planned if you are preparing to run a marathon. Along with this, you should also consider consuming the right nutrients at the right time. Therefore, you need to prepare in the right way because eating the right foods requires planning and preparation. So, several weeks before, you should try new foods and different recipes that you can use before your race. You should avoid consuming new foods prior to the race as it could result in you consuming foods that disagree with you and that can bring your race to an abrupt end.

The Weeks Leading Up to the Race

Your structured nutrition plan needs to come into actions a few weeks before the race. It is important that you experiment with different foods before, during and after you have run a long distance and you need to remember that running on an empty stomach is never a good thing. You should aim to introduce Low GI Carbohydrates such as wholegrain rice and pasta as they will slowly release energy and increase your carbohydrate stores as well as glycogen levels. The week before your race, you need to load up on carbs and so, you should aim to eat pasta and oats. However, foods such as broccoli, beans and cabbage should be avoided as they can leave you feeling gassy.

Hours Before The Race

Prior to running a race, you should look to eat foods that are high in low GI carbohydrates but high in protein and low in fat. This will ensure that your body has the correct nutrients and sets you up for the race in the right way. Oats with fruits or a bagel with peanut butter will do the trick.

During the Run – The Important Part of the Process!

As you run, your body will be burning energy and that makes it important to keep your carbohydrate stores topped up as much as possible. The body has the ability to store around 2000 calories of glycogen which means that after a few hours of running, you will feel very low on energy. Therefore, during a run, you should eat foods that contain high GI carbohydrates as they will provide you with quick energy. Sports gels are always a good option as are isotonic drinks while bananas and sweets such as jelly beans will also do the trick. You should aim to introduce these foods every 45 minutes, ensuring that you consume around 30-60 grams of carbohydrate each hour. You should also make sure that you drink plenty of fluids and electrolytes.

Following Your Run

After a run, it is important that you consume the right foods as it is vital that you replenish your stores. As a result, you will have a window of around 30 minutes to consume the right foods, so that the body will use the nutrients to repair the body. Food such as chocolate milk can provide the body with what it needs while a smoothie with plenty of fruit will work wonders. Along with this, you will also need to consume lots of fluids and electrolytes to replace those that you have lost through sweat.

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