With the Chicago Marathon coming up on October 10th, I have been receiving many questions pertaining to adequate nurtition and hydration for endurance events. Adequate nutrition and hydration before, during, and after a race or physical activity is very important. It is imperative to begin a race or other types of physical activity well hydrated. Hydration makes the difference between optimal performance and sub-par performance. Carbohydrates are stored in the muscle and serve as a source of readily available energy. Protein is needed to repair tissue damage after a race. Consuming protein and carbohydrates together after a race can help aid in quicker recovery.
- 24 hours prior to a race continue to meet your normal hydration needs.
- 2-3 hours prior to a race consume between 17-20 ounces of water.
- 10-20 minutes prior consume 7-10 ounces of water.
- During a race consume 7-10 ounces every 7-10 minutes.
- Before a race, check to see what mile makers the water stations will be located at.
- For short distances (<60 minutes) water is all you need to drink to meet your needs.
- For long distances (>60 minutes) it is important to replace lost electrolytes and carbohydrates.
- You can consume a sports drink.
- Normally, a sports drink is served throughout a race, but be aware that some runners feel nauseous when drinking these types of drinks during a race. I am one of those runners. Therefore, it important during training to test out different hydration methods to see which is most comfortable for your body.
- While training for your long runs, try drinking a few ounces of a sports drink every few miles to determine if this increases your performance or causes discomfort.
- Replace water lost during exercise.
- Consume 2-3 cups for every pound lost during a race or any other type of physical activity.
- One way to identify if you are adequately hydrated or not is to check the color of your urine. If you are hydrated your urine will be a clear to very pale yellow color, but any color darker than that indicates dehydration. The darker the color the more dehydrated you are!
Eating for Success
- Before you exercise it is important to consume a carbohydrate-rich snack, that is low in fat and fiber so your body may properly digest all of the food.
- 3-4 hours before try: peanut butter with toast, fruit and yogurt smoothie, oatmeal, whole fruit, or mini-bagel.
- 30-60 minutes prior to your race try: a sports drink, water, sports gel, half of a sports bar, or a small banana.
Fuel During Exercise
- It is important to determine your optimal nutritional needs during a race to ensure adequate intake of fluid, carbohydrates, and electrolytes without ingesting too much, which could lead to cramping.
- Design a plan of intake a few days before the marathon that you can use in training. Practicing your nutrition plan along with your long runs can prevent any race day problems.
- During the race, you can consume: sports drinks, sport foods (gels, bars, gummies) or bite sizes pieces of granola.
- Consuming fluids, gels, or gummies containing charbohydrates during a race will provide quick fuel that is transported to your fatiguing muscles.
Eating for Recovery
- After the race, it is important to replace glycogen stores (aka carbohdrate stores) in the muscle with carbohydrate sources like: sports drink, sport bar, banana, graham cracker with peanut butter, milk, mini bagel, smoothie, small turkey and cheese sandwich, or yogurt.
- Consuming a protein-rich food after your race will help aid in muscle repair.
- 15-60 minutes after your race start the nutrition recovery process.
Adequate nutrition and hydration before, during, and after a big race will help you reach your optimal performance!
What race day techniques help you meet your nutritional needs?