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Diet Pointers for Pre-Marathon Week

Health & Fitness

I’m sure many of you pretty ladies would be all set to run the Standard Chartered Marathon. With just 2 days to go, there would be adrenaline rush at the thought of visualizing yourself at the start line. Your race day gear must have been sorted out and coordinated, from the sports tee, to the capris, to the running shoes, all the way down to that sweat-wicking pair of socks and a cap to match! You seem to be race ready, well…almost.

Have you also planned your race week nutrition as immaculately as the rest of the running paraphernalia? I suspect I hear an assortment of responses ranging from a ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ to a ‘may be’. No harm done so far, as you still have 2 days to fuel your body with the right nutrients that will help you set the road ablaze with your super charged legs! Run-up-to-the-race-day diet and the race day diet go a long way in making your run a wonderful experience. You really don’t want to burn out half way through the race and drag your feet to the finish line somehow. Running low on fuel or dehydrating can mess up your run in a big way.

So, here are some diet guidelines to give your running prowess a booster dose:

  1. Choose carbs carefully: Carbs are the body’s primary source of fuel that the body burns while running. They should form about 60% of your daily diet in the last week before the run.

Good food sources: Slow or complex carbs fuel your runs consistently and revitalize worn out muscles. These are high on fibre and are slowly digested so as to deliver long-lasting energy. Whole grain cereals like multigrain rotis, oats, quinoa and brown rice, dried beans, dals, sweet potatoes, green beans are some of the complex carbs that should form part of your pre-race diet.

However, limit these high fibre foods and switch to some quick-energy simple carbs sources 48 hours before the race. These are fruits, dried fruits, fresh lemonade with honey, white potato, white rice, white pasta, etc. These are especially desirable before longer runs such as 21kms and beyond to keep your body well fuelled throughout the race.

  1. Let the fluids flow: Runners have bigger fluid needs than their sedentary counterparts. Perspiration while running leads to water loss, which in turn, may lead to overheating of the body or dehydration. So, drink enough water before, during, and after running. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water through the day anyway. Drink even if you’re NOT thirsty. Water or other healthy fluids like fresh lemonade and coconut water boost performance as they keep you safe from dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. And no, tea and coffee don’t count as healthy hydrating fluids!
  1. Cut fats to minimum: While you increase your carbs intake, it is desirable to reduce your fat intake, such as oils, butter, cheese, full fat dairy, fried food, etc. 
  1. Dump processed foods: Processed or convenience foods give you no control over sugar, sodium and saturated fats you may be ingesting. Eat whole foods or ‘real’ foods instead. Sodium overload from processed food could lead to water retention or GI stress which could upset your stomach or make you feel bulky on the race day. You definitely don’t want to spend your crucial race time in the portable loos on the way. 
  1. Don’t skip meals: Skipping meals can hamper performance as the body can feel burnt out due to low fuel situation. You can’t run your car despite an efficient engine and new tyres, so why expect your body to run without crucial nutrients from food.
  1. Never experiment with new foods on race day or night before: Your tryst with a new food can give you tummy troubles during your race.

Race Day Diet

  1. Pre-long run diet:

Snack ideas: Banana/homemade granola bar/energy bar/skim milk/1 whole wheat toast with peanut butter- 90 minutes to 2 hours before the event.

Fluids: 1-2 cups of water or energy drink that contains carbs & electrolytes or sweet-salty fresh lemonade- 1 hour before the run. Keep sipping water up to 30 mins before race starts.

  1. During-long run diet:

 30-60 gms simple carbs every hour if running beyond 2 hours.

Snack ideas: Small banana/energy bar/energy gel/boiled egg/white baby potato with jacket/white bread sandwich triangles with jam/dates/raisins/oranges, etc.

Fluids: Half to one cup water/coconut water/energy drink that contains carbs & electrolytes/Electral/Gatorade/Enerzal every 15-20 minutes or so.

  • Post-long run diet:

 Snack ideas: Peanut butter sandwich/banana/granola bar/fruit yogurt smoothie/chocolate milkshake/egg & cheese sandwich/soymilk fruit smoothie/protein bar, etc. within 15 minutes of run.

A proper meal of with carbs & protein balance like dal-rice/dal-roti/chicken sandwich with veggies salad/chicken biryani/chicken breast with mashed potatoes & grilled vegies on the side/curd-rice/Veggie omelette with toast and fresh fruit, etc. around 2 hours after the run.

Fluids: One to three cups of water/energy drink that contains carbs & electrolytes after the run. And sufficient water through the day thereafter.

 So, lavish your daily diet with these handy tips, and add that extra bounce to your running shoes! Happy running!

  1. Water: Runners have bigger fluid needs than their sedentary counterparts. Perspiration while running leads to water loss, which in turn, may lead to overheating of the body or dehydration. So, drink enough water before, during, and after running. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water through the day anyway.

So, lavish your daily diet with these handy tips, and add that extra bounce to your running shoes!

Tanuja Sodhi-

Fitness Expert, Nutritionist and Author

http://www.tanujasodhi.com/

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