Running a Marathon: How to Fuel Your Body and Reward Yourself
Joining a marathon requires a lot of training and dedication, and you need to incorporate several changes in your lifestyle. One of the many changes you’ll have to do is stick to a diet, which will help fuel your body for the long haul. Here’s what you should eat to give you the proper nutrition for your marathon.
Know Your Required Calorie Intake
Before you do any diet changes, make sure you’re fully aware of how much calories you should consume in a day. It usually varies per person, depending on several factors like:
- Daily activity: Inactive, moderately active, very active
If you’re preparing for a marathon, your activity level could range from somewhere between moderately active to very active. During the earlier days of your preparation, you’ll be running for at least two to five hours a day. Later on, you’ll soon switch to very active status. Regardless of your activity level, make sure you consume enough calories to fuel your run.
Eat A Lot of Protein
If there’s one thing you can’t leave out in your diet during your preparation, it’s protein. Incorporating a lot of protein in your diet is essential for anyone preparing for marathon preparation. Protein helps in building muscles and recover immediately from an injury, which many marathon runners experience. Unlike non-runners, marathon runners need approximately 50% to 70% more protein than most people.
There are many sources of protein for both vegan and non-vegan eaters. Besides consuming meat like beef, pork, chicken, and fish, protein can be absorbed through non-meat items like
- Soy Beans
- Black Beans
Drink A Lot of Water
Keeping yourself hydrated is the next most crucial step to do. You need to drink a lot of water, even before your marathon. Make sure to consume a lot of water during your training and throughout the day. Drinking water serves a lot of purpose for your body like:
- Regulating your body temperature;
- Flushing out damaged cells to encourage the growth of new ones;
- Lubricating joints in your body.
Whether you’re training for only a few hours a day by running or other exercises, hydrating is vital. If you aren’t too conscious about drinking water, it’s good to start a routine now. Make sure to drink water after every 15-20 minute run you do.
After a long day of training and running, your body needs to refuel and recover itself. Your glycogen levels are depleted, and you’ll need to restore it quickly with the adequate nutrition out there. When you’re doing endurance training for your marathon, your body can cause recovery by consuming more carbohydrates instead of protein.
Milk is also an excellent option for a post-run recovery regimen because your body can absorb it quickly and restores glycogen levels fast. Besides milk, here are some foods to remember for your post-run recovery:
- Milk Smoothies
- Eggs on toast
- Tuna Salad
Load Up on Carbohydrates
When your marathon date is about to come, you’ll need to start storing energy fuels in your body, which can be obtained from carbohydrates. In the old days, people would consume a lot of carbohydrates during the days leading up to the marathon. Luckily, you won’t have to this anymore as long as you know your body well.
Loading up on carbohydrates doesn’t mean you’ll have to overeat. It merely means that you have to plan your meals, reach your daily nutritional goal, and consume most of it on carbohydrates. You can start adjusting your carbohydrate diet by incorporating most of the items on your lunchtime and having a light dinner.
Don’t Skip Your Breakfast
You don’t want to run with a full stomach, but you also want to make sure that you don’t run with an empty one either. Make sure to consume a breakfast packed with carbohydrates to replenish the liver glycogen levels of your body. Although some people prefer skipping breakfast, as a rule of thumb, it’s always best to have at least 100grams of carbohydrates for breakfast.
Make sure to eat hours before the marathon, or three to four hours before. You don’t want to eat too close to the competition because it’ll be uncomfortable for you and your stomach. You also don’t want to skip breakfast or eat 6 hours before, because you might not have energy stored to fuel your run.
Race Day Meal
Before your marathon, you also need to prepare to have a quick bite during the competition. You’ll be running for hours, and water won’t be enough to sustain your energy levels and replenish your glycogen levels quickly. To avoid this, you can practice taking in small bites in between your training and to allow you and your body to get used to the idea. You don’t want to run a marathon and have a bite in between, with your tummy not accustomed to the feeling. Make sure that whatever you consume is just enough to give your body a boost.
How to Reward Yourself After Finishing a Marathon
There are plenty of rewards a marathon runner could have, but the current trend all point to the bobblehead craze. There are bobbleheads of popular athletes and marathon runners that’s great as gifts to finishers. If it’s your first time running a marathon, don’t worry because it’ll all be worth it and you can reward yourself later with your favorite meal or even a bobblehead of yourself. Click here to find out where you can your own bobblehead.
Prepare well for your next marathon, and don’t forget the nutritional tips we’ve given you. After you’ve won your competition and reaped all your hard work, you can reward yourself with a lot of pampering, relaxation, and favorite meals and of course, bobbleheads.