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.
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.
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