Monday, March 04, 2013
Fuel for your half marathon and beyond
It is half marathon season, leading up to marathon season. Not only do you need to train sufficiently to run the distance, but you also have to fuel your body properly. Think of your body as an automobile – you want it fuel it with the best so you can get optimum performance. Fill your body with high performing fuel and you will run like a fine tuned Porsche. Here are my tips for running a successful half marathon and beyond:
1. Practice, Practice, Practice: Not only do you need to prepare your legs for running, and weight train to strengthen your muscles, you need to practice your fueling routines. On your next long run, simulate race day. Wake up at the same time as you will need to for the start of your race, have breakfast, have snacks, and start your run at the same time as the race. Bring along fuel and fluids that you will need to sustain your running for the allotted distance. Write down what you ate and drank and how it made you feel. Make adjustments and practice your fueling plan again at your next training run.
2. One week before the race: You are tapering your running, so you will be burning fewer calories and carbohydrates. That doesn’t mean eat less carbs. No, your body is going to need those carbs for the race. Do not change your eating habits (unless you are improving them!).
3. Carbo Loading: There are two choices which I call the Basic Method versus the Scientific Method. The Basic Method doesn’t involve any math. Just keep eating what you are eating. Do not cut back on carbs. Your body will naturally store the carbs since you are using fewer this week. The Scientific Method requires simple math. Consume 8-12 g/kg (3.6-5.4 g/lb) of body weight per day of carbs for 3-4 days prior to the race. Either way, you may gain weight. Don’t worry because it is water weight. You will lose all this weight on race day.
4. The night before the race. Eat a carbohydrate rich, low fat, low fiber meal at home. I don’t recommend going out to eat unless it is a place you trust and can have something that is low in fat and fiber. You want to make sure you don’t wake up with stomach issues. Food poisoning the night before a race is not fun. Don’t eat too late at night because it may make it more difficult to fall asleep. Don’t have anything with caffeine after 2pm the day before your race because it will make it more difficult to fall asleep. Alcohol also makes sleeping more difficult. And no scary movies.
5. Race morning breakfast: Now it is time to eat your tested breakfast. This will be a low fiber, low fat breakfast. The amount of carbs you need is based on how long before the start of the race. The rule is 1 gram per kilogram body weight for every hour before the race start.
6. Fifteen minutes before the start: Drink 7-10 ounces of fluid and consume 15-25 grams of carbs.
7. Hydration: Drink up but not too much. The amount you drink should also be tested before the race. A general rule is to drink 5-10 ounces every 15-20 minutes. Find out how often there are fluid stations along the race course and if there are other drinks besides fluid. Don’t drink anything you haven’t pretested. Note: The cups hold approximately 5 ounces.
8. Fueling during the race: Approximately 30-60 g of carbohydrates per hour are necessary for maintenance of blood glucose levels while doing endurance events. Specifically, consume 0.7 grams carbs per kilogram body weight. This can be in the form of Gu, gels, bars, dried fruit, honey, Gatorade or other carbohydrate replacement drink.
9. Water versus the race course carbo drink versus BYOF (bring your own fluid): Unless you have raced with the race course carbo drink in the past, don’t start trying it out at the race. It is important to note that carbohydrate replacement drinks contain necessary carbs and electrolytes. If you drink a carbohydrate replacement drink, you may need fewer sources of carbs during your race.
10. Congratulations!!!! You finished!!!!
11. Immediately after your race: A carbohydrate intake of 1.0 to 1.5 g/kg (0.5 to 0.7 g/lb) of body weight during the first 30 minutes post-exercise and again every 2 hours for 4-6 hours to replace glycogen stores. Sports drinks are an easy way to rehydrate, replenish electrolytes (sodium and potassium) and get the necessary carbohydrates within 30 minutes of exercising. Shortly after completion of exercise, 10-20 g of protein should be consumed to aid in muscle repair.
12. One week after the race: If you don’t plan on continuing to keep up the miles running, make sure you cut back on your calories unless you want to gain weight. And keep on fueling your body for mental and physical success.Now it is off to the races!