Marathon Eats

If you’re running the OKC Marathon this Sunday, by now you should have a pre-race meal that has been tested successfully several times during your training runs that has left you with no GI-trouble. This meal looks different for every runner, and because everyone’s needs vary- find out what is best for YOU. In general, stick to simple carbohydrates and protein. We want to digest what we eat quickly and sustain energy levels from our glycogen storage utilization. Fat and fiber tend to keep us full for longer but ultimately cause GI discomfort and bowel movements- so during an athletic event, you can imagine how this is not ideal.

Race Day will require getting up extra early to eat, stretch and possibly eat again. A Pre-Race Meal can be broken up into two manageable amounts, if you can’t get what you need at one time. If you have 2 hours, consume 50-75 grams of carbohydrates. If you’re limited on time with an hour, 20-25g will suffice. Timing is crucial for digestion and of course, you want to feel 100% when you toe up to the line. However without that last bit of energy intake- you will be lacking in energy and stored glycogen. I would NOT suggest skipping the pre-race meal, even if you’re feeling nervous. We recently discussed in our blog about the importance of carbohydrate loading.
So will your ‘carb-loading’ and pre-race meal be enough? Not for long.
The science behind ‘the wall’: You start running and after about 90 minutes, your glycogen storage is low or depleted entirely. If you kept running with nothing left, your energy levels will plummet and you quickly tire or ‘hit the wall’. The next option after glycogen and blood glucose is sapped is tapping fat storage. Rather than allowing your body to shift to primary fat utilization, you should supply it with carbohydrate, which metabolizes quickly. Fat metabolism is a less efficient process, so although it will ultimately provide you with energy- it will come with a price. Fatigue.  *
Avoid fatigue by fueling up right. My suggestion is to eat before the race ~3 hours with 50-75grams, then 20 grams that last hour before, and after the first hour into your run, so by the time the glycogen could have run out- you’re proactively fueling your fire. Eat 30-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour during your run.
Pre-Race Foods and Race Foods (during your run) should emphasize simple carbs and moderate protein. Some fat is okay, say from peanut butter and unsaturated fats. But don’t douse your pasta, rice or bagel in butter. Opt for jelly.

Pre-Race Food
1.     Toast with jelly or jam
2.     Bagel with nut butter
3.     Muffin(not bran) with honey
4.     Cereal (<3g fiber) + milk and dried fruits
5.     Smoothies- fruit or vegetable
6.     Juices- the fiber is all gone from juices, so this is the one time I strongly advise! You can easily find juices with extra sugar, which will give you the carbs you’re looking for.
Race Food
Chances are, they’ll be giving food out to runners during the race, typically orange wedges, bananas or electrolyte beverages. You can definitely go for this option, but if you’re concerned with not having what you want- plan ahead. Fill up your fanny pack and don’t make it too complicated to reach for and eat.  Ideas include:
1.     Dried fruit- apricot, raisins
2.     Clif bar
3.     Trailmix- nuts, fruits, chocolates (if its not too hot)
4.     Pretzels- perfect for sodium replenishment
5.     Glucose chews(GUs)

If you’re running this weekend, FUEL UP SMART and GOOD LUCK! sls

Carb Loading

Running in the OKC Memorial Marathon on Sunday? If you’re a rookie or a veteran of the famous 26.2, you’ve been preparing by logging more miles and a major change in your diet.

Eating to fuel training runs should look different than eating before a big run. Just as your training mileage has tapered off close to the race, runners switch their diet to ‘carb load’ within the week before the race. So what exactly does carbohydrate loading do for us before a race and how can it be effective?

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. Our bodies digest and absorb carbohydrates to store as glycogen in our liver and muscle; when we need energy, it is utilized to produce ‘fuel’. (We also use fat for energy, but that requires a different, slower method.)  When you are running, you need sustained energy. So runners/athletes ‘carb load’ to fill up their tank before the race. You can only store so much glycogen before the carbohydrates or any food for that matter turn to fat stores.

So, you take it a few days at a time. You don’t just ‘carb load’ the night before, rather you gradually build your stores 2-3 days prior to the race. In order to efficiently fill your glycogen storage in the liver and muscle, you increase your carbohydrate intake to 80-90%, while decreasing % of protein and fat in your diet.

Depending on your muscle storage capacity, humans can store between 300-500 grams of glycogen in both the liver and muscle(more in the muscle and typically 80-100g in the liver). While your exercise has tapered within the week prior to the race, you are using less of your glycogen stores so they are storing up. Keep in mind that fueling during a marathon will be essential to delay onset of fatigue because those stores will be depleted within about 90 minutes of exercise. 

Mid-race and Race Day Fueling blog to come later this week!

Sample Carb Loading Day (for a 150 pound runner)

1 bagel with 2 tablespoons strawberry jam (71 g)
1 medium banana (27 g)
8 ounces fruit yogurt (41 g)
8 ounces orange juice (26 g)

2 Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey
Granola Bars (29 g)
8 ounces Gatorade (14 g)

1 large baked potato with 1/4 cup salsa (69 g)
1 sourdough roll (40 g)
8 ounces chocolate milk (26 g)
1 large oatmeal cookie (56 g)

1 Clif Bar (42 g)
8 ounces Gatorade (14 g)
1 chicken burrito with rice, corn salsa, and black beans (105 g)
1 2-ounce bag Swedish Fish (51 g)

‘Carb Loading’ Take Home Message:
  1. Don’t just sign up for the pasta dinner the night before your race. That won’t be enough and you’ll probably feel bloated the morning of your race.
  2. Don’t over do it- spread out your carb loading over 3 days up to the race.
  3. Hydrate! It won’t matter if you have all the fuel in the form of glycogen ready to go because without water and adequate hydration, you’ll be dead by mile 10.
  4. Proper carb-loading will make you retain water, so if you notice the scale is creeping up during these few days- don’t sweat it. It’s normal.

What does your carb-loading plan look like? Tell us about your diet as a runner or athlete. We would love to hear from you. sls

Sample meal provided by Runners