How to Feed Your Body for Long Runs
Staying hydrated and fueling with the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat is the key to performance. One common myth is that carbohydrates will lead to weight gain and slowing down. This is simply untrue – endurance runners need carbs to fuel the body which will improve both their performance and speed. In fact, carbs should be a primary fuel source to maintain adequate blood glucose levels, maximize muscle and liver glycogen stores and replenish glycogen stores after exercise.
Having said that – an advantage of the half-marathon distance is that a healthy nutritious regular diet along with proper nutrition can be enough to maintain the energy needed to complete the race. The full-marathon distance is will require regular nutrition during the race to keep glycogen stores balanced.
A larger, high carbohydrate meal 3 to 4 hours before the event that is low in fat and fiber can help improve performance. Adding a smaller meal or snack such as a banana and some yogurt an hour before the event will help to avoid feelings of fullness.
During the race ingesting small amounts of carbs to maintain blood glucose levels will help performance and speed. It is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines that you consume 30 to 60 g of carbs (120 – 240 calories) per hour of exercise. Of course, this varies depending on your gender, size, and training so it is important to practice nutrition during your training long runs. Taking in hydration and electrolytes in the form of a sports drink counts as a part of the carb calories needed.
After the race refueling requires both carbs and protein. Chocolate milk is an excellent source as is Pizza. Carbs replenish the glycogen sources and protein repairs the muscles – both are necessary to recover quickly and reduce muscle soreness as much as possible. Practicing your nutrition regimen for long runs is key to optimize your overall performance in an event.
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