Training for a marathon: Nutrition tips

Marathon running, as with any other professional athletic endeavor, is strenuous and physically demanding. The body, in effort to keep itself in continual working condition, exhausts itself of precious resources. Because of this, the nutrition plan of a marathon runner must be adequate in conditioning the body for the physical turmoil.

A marathon runner can expect to burn anywhere from 3,000-4,000 calories during a single event. During training, the amount is slightly lower, from 1,000 to 2,000 calories, per session. As such, nutritional needs are increased accordingly.

Marathon running.
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The following tips can help improve a marathon runner's competition and training, by allowing for greater, more efficient use of energy output.

1.) Breakfast timing, pt.1: Eat your pre-workout meal at least 2 hours before training, in order to allow proper digestion to occur.

2.) Breakfast timing, pt.2: Approximately 1 hour before your workout, ingest something small, containing cabs, such as an orange, banana or apple with a handful of nuts or granola.

3.) Hydration is key: During training or marathon conditions, replenishing the body at frequent intervals is necessary for optimal performance. Attempt to drink 4-5 ounces of fluid approximately every 20 minutes.

4.) Avoid emptiness: Approximately every 45 minutes, ingest solid calories, such as a sports nutrition bar. If you go too long without substantial nutrients, your body becomes weak and sluggish.

5.) Avoid "pre-emptive" prescriptions: Many athletes feel the need to take pain relievers, such as Advil or Tylenol, before training or competition, in order to ward off symptoms. Doing so can cause stomach issues, Kidney stress and assist in dehydration.

6.) Don't try new things: Especially on race day, you'll want to stick with what you know. Avoid uncommon food and drink. If you don't normally consume it, don't try it on race day.

7.) Carb load: The night before a race, you'll want to load up on whole-grain, low-glycemic carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice or sweet potatoes. Look to consume several small portions, spread out approximately every hour for the last 3-4 hours before bedtime.

8.) Fight the flush: Avoid a high-fiber meal before training. The last thing you need is your body "running" the same time you have to compete.

9.) After training, pt.1: Aim to have a carb-rich meal, within 30-45 minutes of finishing, replacing glycogen stores and replenish your energy.

10.) After training, pt.2: Remember to continue consumption of fluids, as your body will need several hours to recoup from hard training or competition.

Keep these tips in mind, when developing a sound nutrition program. Never underestimate the diet's importance in marathon conditions. Treat your marathon-running body like a vehicle engine—fill it with the highest-quality fuel for best results.

The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful business entrepreneur and personal trainer. All information herein is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult a physician before starting any workout or nutritional program.

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Updated Friday, Apr 29, 2011