Nutrition is an important factor when it comes to your performance! Long distance races, like a marathon, demand extreme efforts from your body and require a pretty specific diet.
Paying attention to your diet is essential for completing a marathon, but, paying attention is one thing – knowing what to do is another…
1. Change your eating habits at the last minute
It is absolutely necessary to test your diet before a race or a long run. Improvising and running don’t blend well. If you want to take diet supplements, sports drinks, or protein bars – try them on a training run before the race to see how your body reacts. This is also important for the days prior to the races so that you know beforehand what kind of influence your diet has on your body.. Pay attention to digestive issues, muscle fatigue, and just general sensations to better adapt your diet during your pre-competition phase.
Skipping this step risks some digestive problems that can really hurt your race performance, and could even force you to drop out of the race.
2. Neglecting hydration
You have to have a hydration plan during the race. The water stations spread throughout the course are there for you, don’t avoid them! If you’re trail running, plan to carry enough water to get you between the stations, if there are any…
Hydration is important all the time, not just on race day, be sure that you’re drinking, as advised, at least 1.5L of water per day. You have to add more water on training days since the sweat releases a certain amount of water. Drink even more water in the days before the race as well.
If you neglect your daily hydration, you expose yourself to injuries, most notably, those to your tendons. On race day, dehydration won’t just hurt your performance, but can also force you to drop out or get seriously ill.
3. Putting too much importance on fiber
On a normal basis, eating fiber is really good for your digestive health, but on race day, it can lead to bad abdominal cramps and side stitches. Change your fiber consumption in the days leading up to the race. To do this, cut down on dry vegetables, whole wheat cereals, and fruits, while increasing your consumption of cooked foods.
4. Eating too much carbohydrates
Eating carbs is important for maintaining your glycogen reserves, but you mustn’t eat them in large quantities and they cannot be your only food in the days immediately before the race. In effect, eating too many carbs promotes more intestinal fermentation, increasing the amount of gas, and can cause bloating or diarrhea… and we’d really like to avoid that.
5. Neglecting the benefits of other nutrients
Finally, vary your diet – it’s also important because if you aren’t integrating fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals, you’re increasing your chance of injury, or bad performances, since your body doesn’t have all the elements it needs to support your effort.
Now that you know what not to do, break any habits you used to have!