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Marathon Training Part 4: The Importance of Nutrition

Marathon Training Part 4: The Importance of Nutrition

26Sep

This is the final part in our 4-part series in marathon training. Dublin Marathon is just around the corner now, on Sunday 28th of October. I hope your training has been going well and you have found the previous blogs on marathon training useful. If you missed any of the previous parts check out these links, as there is lots of useful tips and information:

Why is nutrition important?

Nutrition is key to your performance on the day of the marathon, as well as during your training leading up to the big event. Correct nutrition requires some forward planning; however, you will reap the benefits as you will be adequately fuelled for those long training sessions. Not only will good nutrition maximise your performance it will result in better overall health. It is also essential for repair and recovery which is important for you at this stage of your training, and to minimise illness and injuries.

What should I eat?

An athlete’s diet generally doesn’t look any different from a normal healthy balance diet- you just need a little more of it. A bonus from doing all the training for the marathon is that you can eat a little more! The main 3 food groups include carbohydrates, protein and fats, and can be referred to as macronutrients. Each of your meals should be well balance and include each of these food groups.

  • Carbohydrates is your fuel for energy and is typically the preferred fuel for runner. Our body breaks down carbohydrates to glucose to then use this glucose to fuel our cells. Pasta, rice, vegetables, potatoes are all great sources of carbohydrates and if you choose the wholegrain version you will get the added bonus of a steady flow of energy throughout the day.
  • Protein is important for maintaining muscle mass and also helps prevent illness and injury. Good sources of protein are meet, fish, beans and pulses, nuts, eggs and dairy products. An average portion should equate to the size of your palm.
  • Fats are also an essential sources of fuel for your body and play a critical role in our overall health. Healthy fats can be found in fish, avocados, nuts and non-saturated fat sources.

Micronutrients are the other essential nutrients that we need to sustain a healthy life. These include minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrient. Whole food, fruit and vegetables are great sources of micronutrients. A ‘rainbow diet’ that has lots of colour and variety is thought to be optimal and will provide you with a healthy balanced diet.

On the day of the marathon the best piece of advice is to stick to what you have been eating throughout your training! You should have practised your pre-marathon meal during your long runs to ensure it doesn’t upset your stomach and you feel adequately fuelled. Eating a carbohydrate rich meal 3-4 hours prior to the race ensures that carbohydrate stores in your body are fully stocked. It is also advisable that this meal be relatively low in fat and fibre to aid gastric emptying and leaving you the athlete feeling satisfied. Also, plan you meal after the marathon as you will need to replenish your energy. The Dublin marathon website has some great tips on this, please follow this link.

Hydration

Water or fluid intake is very important good health and life. Exercise results in sweating, which induces a fluid loss that needs to be replenished to maintain a healthy balance inside our cells and body. It is recommended to drink 1.5 to 2.0 litres or 25mls per kilogram of body weight per day. This is due to the fact that through breathing, sweating and urination we lose 1.5 to 2.0 litres of water per day. However, if you are exercising and sweating excessively, you can increase you water intake to 2-3 litres per day to replenish fluid lost. On the day of the marathon there will be 10 water stations to help keep you hydrated. This includes mile 3, 5, 7, 9.5, 11, 13, 16, 19, 21 and 24.

That is end of our 4 part series on how to best prepare for the Dublin Marathon. We hope you have found the information helpful and wish you the best of luck in the marathon! If you wish to make an appointment with one of our chartered physiotherapists, you can do so through our website or by phoning (01) 660 6582. 

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