Marathon Nutrition – Fueling the Distance

**Mom & Dad I put random pictures of the kids in this post just for you.  You can ignore the content.  Everyone else can ignore the pictures because they have nothing to with the content.  haha I am just trying please everyone here okay! 🙂

I am not a registered dietitian nor am I at all claiming to be knowledgeable on the subject of marathon nutrition. But I do know that nutrition/hydration is crucially important for successfully going the distance and I have done a lot of research on the topic.  I very rarely talk about food on my blog.  I suffered from an eating disorder for three years that nearly took my life and food to me now is simply fuel.  I have way too many fun things going on in my life to let food consume my mind. I eat when I am hungry to fuel my body and do my very best not to obsess about what I am eating.

Now is when I turn into a complete hypocite because I actually think a lot about what I am putting into my body leading up to a marathon.  The following is what I feel has worked for me and only my opinion.  Keep in mind I am a very petite runner and the numbers I use are based on my weight and may be much different for you.

3 Days Pre-Race:  As I was tapering for Boston marathon (going crazy) I came across this blog.  The author Jackie Dikos is not only a 2:45 marathoner but also a registered dietitian specializing specifically in sports nutrition.  Check out her blog she absolutely knows her stuff.  Through her blog I learned the critical importance of increasing my carbohydrates and decreasing fats the 3 days leading up to a marathon.  Easy right?  Suprisingly not so much.  After carefully tracking my food consumption I realized that my carb intake was far too low.  I live by myself and eat pretty simply so I really had to plan and actually think to get my carbs up to 400+ grams per day.  I know what your thinking….how in the heck is it hard to eat carbs Rachelle….just go eat a freaking box of Twinkies you stupid idiot!  The trick is eating healthy carbs that our bodies can store and not eating just processed or refined carbohydrates that the body digest rapidly and uses immediately.  To healthily add carbs to my diet the three days before the marathon I simply ate a little bit more.  An extra handful of crackers or pretzels with lunch, and extra snack during the day, thicker bread for my turkey sand which, ect.  I also broke the golden rule!!  Me and my sister created the never ever drink your calories rule ages ago.  I think many women live by this silly rule?  Well I broke it!  I drank about 2-3 32 ounce G Series Gatorades the 3 days leading up to the race.  That’s an extra whopping 56 grams of carbohydrates a day that did not weigh me down and leave me feeling stuffed.  Not only did the Gatorade add easy carbohydrates, it was also chuck full of sodium and potassium to stock my body for the warm weather marathon.  Lastly in addition to making sure I was topping out at 400 grams of carbs per day and drinking plenty of fluids I also made a conscious effort to add sodium to my diet.  I snacked on pickles, pretzels, crackers, and popcorn and also took a salt tab with my dinner Friday night.  Sodium is most likely not quite as important if you are not running in warm weather.  But when you are a salty sweater like me and racing in the heat it could absolutely make you or break you in my opinion.  When I weighed myself Saturday morning before Utah Valley Marathon I was up 2lbs from my normal weight.  Perfect!!

Pre-Race Morning:  I felt strong when I woke up Saturday morning.  I could tell I was carrying extra water weight because my ring that I always wear was tight on my finger but I did not feel bloated or too heavy at all.  This was good because I had 100 grams of carbs to get in me before the gun went off.  I ate a large bagel, a banana, and 3/4 of a 32 ounce gatorade to top me off right around 100 grams of carbohydrates.  Temperatures were predicted to hit 70’s by the halway point of the race so I also took an additional salt tab before the race began.

Race Nutrition:  I know from experience, and two trips to the medical tent post marathon that I am a very salty sweater.  It runs in my family and it sucks but it is what it is and I can work around it.  I just have to be extra diligent about replacing that sodium and taking in plenty of calories.  I skipped the first aid station at mile 3 (it was conjested and I wasn’t even sweating yet), and drank a full cup of gatorade at every other aid station.  I took water if I was thirsty or was taking a gel but for the most part I just stuck to gatorade.  Gatorade has calories, sugar, and most importantly electrolytes.  Water tastes great but provides no nutrients.  I took gels at miles 9, 16, 21, and one salt tabs at mile 13 and 21.  My goal was to take in 600-700 calories through gatorade and gels throughout the race and I think I did really well at both Boston and Utah Valley Marathons.

Wow now how incredibly mind numblingly boring was that post?  Hopefully it is able to help someone out there.  Again this is just what has worked for me.  If you have additional questions feel free to ask in the comments.