MARATHON FUELING GUIDE

For the Recreational Athlete

Hydration


Maintaining optimal fluid status may be the single most important factor for successful endurance events.


Water is essential for transporting nutrients and getting rid of waste products in the body.


Dehydration can lead to:

  • Decreased performance

  • Decreased stamina

  • Poor cognitive function

  • Poor recovery

  • Increased core temperature

  • Increased risk of injury

  • Increased levels of perceived fatigue (how hard it feels like you're working)

Pre-Race Training

  • Take the “Pee Test”. Use the urine color chart to determine your fluid status and refill as needed.

  • Training Days: Hydrate throughout the day, especially within the hour before your run.


Pro Tip: Replace your sweat losses by weighing yourself before and after training (in as little clothing as possible). For every pound (16 oz) lost, aim to drink 80-100% of that during/after training to maintain optimal hydration status.


Example: If you average a loss of 2 lbs (32 oz) during training, aim to drink 26-32 oz (3-4 cups) of water during or after training.

Race Day

  • Night Before: Hydrate well and take the “Pee Test".

  • Race Day: Finish 2-3 glasses of water 1-2 hours before the race (to allow time to empty your bladder). Drink more if needed, but don’t overdo it.

  • During the race, either bring water along or plan to stop at water stations every 20 minutes.


Alcohol affects performance for up to 72 hours. Avoid drinking alcohol in the days leading up to the race and save it for post-race!

What about sports drinks, electrolytes, and stuff?

Water is just fine for moderate intensity training lasting 30-60 minutes. For longer runs, higher intensity training, hot days, or for very heavy sweaters, a sports drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc. ) with carbohydrates and electrolytes is helpful for replenishing sodium losses. Specialized electrolyte replacement products may be necessary for maintaining fluid status for some.


Products to try:

  • The Right Stuff

  • Nuun tabs

  • DripDrop ORS

  • Liquid IV

  • Skratch Labs Hydration Mix

Nutrition


Proper nutrition is vital for performance. Specific needs vary significantly per person. However, these general recommendations will get you on the right track.


Pre-Race Training


1-2 Hours Before: Light meal or snack. Opt for carb-rich and lower in fat, fiber, and protein. Fatty & high fiber foods can cause abdominal discomfort.


Good options:

  • Dried or fresh fruit

  • Oatmeal + berries

  • Pretzels + hummus

  • Energy bar (check the label for fat & fiber content)


15-30 Minutes Before: If going on a long run, have a few energy chews, or part of a gel pack.


Products to try:

  • Gatorade Prime Chews

  • Clif Bloks

  • Honey Stinger Chews

  • GU Energy Gel

  • PowerBar Power Gel

During: For long runs (exceeding an hour in length), consider bringing along more chews/gel and fuel up again at the 30-45 minutes mark (as tolerated).


Within 30 Minutes After: After training, especially long runs, replenish energy stores quickly by consuming a carb and protein-rich snack or meal within 30 minutes of finishing.


Good options:

  • Protein shake + fruit

  • Bars with around a 3:1 ratio of grams of carbs to protein (example: 30 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams protein)

  • Yogurt + fruit

  • Bagel + peanut butter

  • Quinoa + veggies

Make sure to note any foods or beverages that upset your stomach during your runs and avoid those items before training and on race day!

Race Day:


Night Before: Enjoy a high-carb meal the evening before race day. Pasta, brown rice, or quinoa and lean protein + veggies are great options.


Race Day: Avoid unfamiliar foods and stick to what you’ve been doing during training, following the same recommendations for timing and types of foods. Don’t forget to pack your go-to chews, gels, bars, or snacks!


Take Home Message


Use your training period as trial and error to determine what works best for you in terms of how you feel and perform. Then, simply stick to the plan on race day and you’ll be fueled up right to cross the finish line!


Good luck!

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© 2020 by Jessica Isaacs, RD