Marathon Training Nutrition and Diet Mistakes

Diet and nutrition are a very important part of marathon training. You are about to embark upon an amazing journey. 26.2 miles is quite a feat and it will be a physically and emotionally draining experience that you need to prepare for fully. Nutrition is a crucial part of getting race-ready and staying healthy but many people make some simple mistakes when training for a marathon.

Disneyland Half Marathon, Disney, WDW
Christopher T. Schmidt

Here are some common nutrition and diet mistakes that people make when training for a marathon:

Diluting your sports drink- If you dilute your sports drink with water, then you are defeating the purpose of the sports drink in the first place. These special drinks have been infused with nutrients to help you during intense sports activity, such as running. They contain a precise carbohydrate to water ratio to allow them to be best absorbed into your body. When you dilute it with water, you are affecting this balance and the drink may not have the same result for you. Drink your water but do it separately from the sports drink.

Drinking too much fruit juice- Fruit juice is great for you but too much can be a bad thing. I have a hard time with this one myself but the fructose in fruit juices can give you too many carbohydrates and increase your sugar levels as well as lead to poor absorption of other nutrients and in some cases, it causes an upset stomach. Don't use fruit juices as your sports drink.

Drinking too much coffee and caffeine- You should reduce or avoid coffee and caffeine while training for and participating in a marathon. Not only does it increase your chances of dehydration but it can also lead to jittery nerves and diarrhea. While a moderate amount of caffeine is often said to increase or enhance performance, this should be done throughout your training and not first on the day of the marathon. Find out how much is "enough" to help boost your performance and then stay consistent throughout training or avoid caffeine altogether.

Trying something new on race day- The day of a big race is not the time to try something new. Whether it be a new food, sports drink or training method, you should not try anything new on race day. Stick with what you know and what your body is familiar with. You can try new things later during another training session.

Don't skip the post-run snack- Marathons and marathon training take a large toll on the body. It's important that you refuel afterwards in the form of a post-run snack. Some runners just don't feel hungry right after running but it's important you don't skip this. It will slow your healing and can hurt your preparation for the next run. It will also make you feel more worn down after the run.

These are just a few tips of nutrition mistakes to avoid while training for and participating in a marathon. It's definitely not everything you need to know about marathon training and you should always consult your doctor before training for a marathon and if you have any problems or concerns throughout the training process.

Lisa is a youth coach, avid runner and overall sports enthusiast. She writes for Y!CN on golf, basketball, football, sports health and nutrition, interesting sports news and more.

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Updated Sunday, Oct 30, 2011