food is fuel. how to prepare for a marathon
Its marathon season at long last; and for all my runners rockin’ Rhone apparel while pursuing a half or full marathon this season, you may be strategizing a nutrition plan.
As a registered dietitian and three times Boston Qualifier, I value nutrition not only as a means to maintain a lean, strong physique but to fuel performance. Tweaking nutrition for your unique body will be a lifelong pursuit, but there are basic tenants you can follow to optimize performance.
Carbohydrate loading for exercise events greater than ninety minutes has been shown to be effective, specifically in men who are better at increasing glycogen (stored sugar) than women. Increasing carbohydrate intake in the 36-48 hours pre-race may delay fatigue by 20% and improve performance by 2-3%! Recommendations include consuming 10-12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass. Carbohydrates include foods from the fruit, grains, and starchy vegetables. Foods such as milk and legumes also provide carbohydrate, however they also provide fat and or protein. Avoiding high insoluble fiber carbohydrates such as dark green leafy vegetables or cruciferous vegetables in the 48 hours pre-race is a good idea since insoluble fiber may contribute to gastric distress. However, grains like rice or quinoa; starchy vegetables like potatoes or other tubers; and soluble fiber rich fruit like bananas or apples without the skin are great carb-loading choices.
Besides eating to fuel success; it’s important to drink to prevent thirst. Keep a water bottle with you in the weeks leading up to the event and drink to maintain light colored urine. Hydration, especially in warm temperatures, will help prevent electrolyte imbalances and has been associated with improved performance.
After all, Rhone will make you look good, but it doesn’t guarantee awesome physical performance. Although, if you’re going to have a less-than-snazzy race, you may as well do it lookin’ your best!
Serena Hunt is a registered dietitian-nutritionist, runner and yogi with a major passion for food and fitness. With a degree in nutritional sciences from Cornell University, a graduate of Yale’s dietetic internship and several years in clinical and private practice nutrition; Serena’s passion extends beyond a mere hobby. Her interests include reading the latest nutrition related scientific literature as well as putting healthy living into practice by cooking in the kitchen and spending hours perusing grocery store hours.
Serena is extremely active in the world of social media as a co-host of the widely popular, The Running Lifestyle Show Podcast (available for free download on iTunes); an active blogger on SerenaMarieRD.com; and active on channels such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook (@/SerenaMarieRD). She accepts private online and in-person clients on an as-able basis.
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