Friday, November 9, 2012

Food to survive the marathon!

So you’re not in it to win but your goal is to at least finish those 10 or 42 kilometers. You need the energy and therefore what you really need is a good eating schedule for the marathon day.
Here’s what you should go for…

     è  Preexercise meal

     The pre-marathon meal serves two purposes:

    -  Keep you from feeling hungry before and during the exercise.
    -  Maintain optimal levels of blood glucose for the exercising muscles. In fact, you can only keep up with the exercise as long as you still have glucose in your system. When you run out, you start feeling tired and you get cramps.

The best meal to have before the event would be a meal rich in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. It should be taken 2 hours before the event to allow your stomach to adequately digest the food.

Ideal pre-marathon meal: 

-  Whole wheat bread
-  Low fat cheese/labneh or Turkey
-  Vegetables


-  1 cup of oats
-  1 banana

            è  During the exercise

According to studies, consuming carbohydrates during an exercise lasting more than 1 hour ensures enough energy, improves performance and enhances feeling of pleasure during and following the exercise. In fact, it can delay fatigue and allow you to actually finish the marathon.

Now I’m definitely not asking you to have a sandwich while running! You can have a sports drink such as Gatorade that is rich in carbohydrates and electrolytes (sodium and potassium). The latter will help replenish what you sweat out.

            è  After the exercise

After the marathon, your muscles need to replenish their glycogen stores (sugar stores). This is only possible if a good amount of carbohydrates is ingested in the hour following the activity.

Studies also show that adding proteins to your post-exercise meal may increase glycogen resynthesis rate, provide amino-acids for muscle repair and promote a more anabolic hormonal profile.

In other terms, the combination carbs-proteins can help you restore the nutrients you lost during the exercise as well as repair the damages caused to the muscles.

Ideal post-marathon meal:
-  2 cups pasta
-  60g minced meat
-  Salad

Finally, don’t forget to drink enough water before during and after the marathon. Now I don’t advise chugging on a bottle of water before the marathon. You don’t want to have a peeing issue while running!

So whether you’re running for a cause or just for the fun of it, I wish you a very good run!


Paty M said...

Great to have your articles back!!
I wanted to ask about sports drinks though;
- How much is OK and how much is too much?
- Is there a specific regimen to abide by when drinking them during a marathon?
- And how long should the workout/marathon be so that sports drinks are needed, as opposed to water?
Thanks! And looking forward for more :D

Rabih A. said...

Great Article Nad! Will I see you in the marathon this Sunday?

Nadine Issa said...

Amazing question Paty! First of all my sources state that if the exercise lasts for more than an hour then the replenishment through sports drinks or even powders is necessary. As for the quantity, these sources recommend 26 to 30g of carbs every 30 minutes which is equivalent to one bottle of Gatorade... however, I think that at an amateur's level, this quantity might be a bit too much! You see we are not athletes and the physical activity will not be that intense and it will take longer. So I'd say a bottle or 2 for the whole marathon should be enough if you're going for a moderate intensity activity. After all, these drinks contain electrolytes and you don't want to overload your body with those.

Nadine Issa said...

And yes Rabih! I will be running with my NGO, Rotaract, for sickle cell disease awareness :)

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