Friday, November 18, 2011

Eating for a Marathon

I mentioned that I had some nutrition issues during my first half marathon in my last post.  I started seeing a nutritionist in June.  I learned that my vegetarian diet lacked the protein required for marathon training.  After consulting several times with Lisa at Nutrition Energy I had a more sustainable food plan.  I noticed the difference too. I began to feel far less tired after runs.  Even after a long run I no longer needed to spend the rest of the day lounging around.  Fage greek yogurt has become a staple of my diet.

...Until now.  I started carbo-loading on Tuesday.  Lisa suggested that I start earlier since this is my first marathon.  The idea is to replace most calories from protein and fats with carbs.  Carbs produce glycogen, the compound responsible for fueling muscles.  Carbo-loading allows you to top off your muscle's glycogen stores leading up to the event, allowing for better performance during the event.   It isn't quite as easy as it sounds because many carbs come with lots of fat.   This isn't a free pass to eat all of the sweets I want.  Rather, my diet now consists of more Powerade, rice, pasta, and fruit.  Greek yogurt is out until after the marathon on Sunday.  I'll be quite happy when I can get back to my normal breakfast of greek yogurt with peanut butter!

When running long distances you also need to consider how to refuel during the run.  I typically take a 30 second to 1 minute walk break every half hour while I have a Power Bar gel and sip some water.  I use a camelbak to carry 3 liters of water and it has nice pockets for the gels.  I've found that the camelbak (even the larger size) doesn't chafe as long as its isn't touching skin.  It also gets lighter as time progresses which makes speeding up for the second half of the race feel natural.


  1. I get the eating lots of carbs thing. But why are proteins and fats bad? Is it just that you want to have as many calories from carbs as possible, leaving no room for fats and proteins? Or do fat and protein calories do something more damaging when eaten before something like a Marathon?

    Also, good luck!

  2. Its a combination of wanting as many carbs as possible and, especially the day before wanting to eat things that are particularly easy digest. You don't really want a heavy stomach while running!