Good nutrition, whether before or during the race is critical. When running long distances,as a runner, you need to have the proper diet to fuel your muscles. You also need to drink more particularly during warm weathers. Endurance athletes in particular need to get their calories from carbohydrates.
Where to Get Your Calories
With all the foods available in the supermarket, marathon runners sometimes need all the help they can get in determining the foods that have high carbohydrates. Unless you are planning to eat spaghetti all throughout the day (even pasta contains 14 percent protein and 4 percent fat), you may need to start reading labels.
The human body needs at least 40 nutrients that are classified into six nutritional components: carbohydrates, protein, minerals, vitamins and water. This is because these nutrients cannot be produced by the body and therefore, must be supplied from solid or liquid foods. These six food categories form the fundamentals of a nutritionally adequate food selection plan: vegetables, grains or legumes, fruits, lean meats, fats or sweets and low fat milk products.
Concentrate on Carbohydrates
Experts say that a healthy diet consists of 15 to 20 percent proteins, 30 percent fat and 50 to 55 percent carbohydrates but, not all carbohydrates are alike because they can be further broken down into simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include sugar, jam, honey and other sweets and sodas that get its calories from sugar. Nutritionists recommend that this kind of carbohydrates only make up 10% of your diet. It is complex carbohydrates that we should more focus on like the starch in plant foods including fruits, vegetables, bread, pasta and legumes.
Endurance athletes in particular benefit more from fuel efficient complex carbohydrates because of the extra calories that they burn ever day. You as a runner, should always aim for more than the 50 percent suggested total carbohydrates. You can or rather, need to eat more calories without even worrying about gaining extra weight. An average runner training for a marathon and running an average of 25 miles in a week needs an average of 2500 calories so that he or she can maintain muscle glycogen stores. As you run more, you also need to eat more. More often than not, this is the reason why a lot of runners run and train for marathons.
Overweight Marathon Runners
Beginners who want to finish their first ever marathon are actually more than 15 pounds overweight — or they think they are. This is the reason why they try to lose the extra weight by dieting. To a certain extent, this is actually good as long as you do your diet prudently. However, those people who opt for fad diets that make them lower their calorie intake are headed toward disaster. This is because what diet fads suggest will not provide enough energy they need for endurance activities. As much as possible, stay away from diet plans such as Zone, Atkins, or 40-30-30 diets. They emphasize on lowering carbohydrate intake in this is only a short term fix in losing weight.
Carbohydrates are extremely important the day before the race and during your training before the actual marathon. This is the reason why there are a lot of endurance races offering pasta parties the night before. Also, make sure that you always drink plenty of fluids the day before the actual race and as much as possible, stay away from liquids containing caffeine or alcohol. It is also a good idea to fuel yourself with a light carbohydrate snack before going to bed and you need to wake up early on the day itself so that you can have a healthy and light breakfast. A toast or a bagel washed down with fruit juice or a cup of coffee is enough to keep you fueled 2 to 3 hours before the race starts. However, practice this routine before your long training workouts so that you will not upset your stomach.