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Race Day Nutrition: Half Marathon

by Tamara Madden 01 Oct 2017

Everybody is different! What works for one person does not work for another, you MUST practice race day nutrition to see what you can tolerate. You need to train your body to be able to absorb carbohydrates whilst running. Never try anything new on race day.

How Much Fuel Is Required

Events/Training up to 90 minutes

If you are following a nutrient dense diet and nutrition has been adequate then you do not necessarily need to take in extra fuel for events up to 90minutes.

For some people -  a small amount of fuel prior to training may be of benefit. Listen to your body.

Events/Training 90 minute to 3 hours

Athletes need to consume 30-45 grams of carbohydrate per hour (or 120-180 calories per hour), depending on body weight, experience, and pace.

Gels contain b/t 20 -30 grams carb. , check the label. ( have with 250mls water, not sports drink)

5 dates is 30grams carb, 1 banana is 25-30 grams

Bars and Sports drink – read the label.

If you are aiming for 2 – 2 ½ hours for you run – you should carry  2-3 gels - or equivalent carbs in chews, energy bars, sports drink)  One at 45 mins, one at 90mins, then maybe another at 2 hrs if you feel you need it.

Hydration and Electrolytes

An important concern for an endurance event is dehydration or hyponatremia (overhydrating with lack of sodium)

Guidelines:  600mls per hour for this length event– depends on your sweat rate, conditions, length of the event, you may need to consider taking salt tablets if you are prone to cramps or sweat excessively.  There are some electrolytes in gels/sports drink.

Fuelling the Day Before an Event  

Make sure you hydrate (min 2 litres per day) and include good quality carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains in your diet 1-2 days prior to a long run. This will ensure your glycogen stores are full and delay the onset of fatigue.

Add a pinch of salt or electrolyte replacement product to your water to improve hydration. 

Recovery Meal  

This is the most important meal of the day! It needs to be within 45 minutes post-training, and contain Carbohydrates and Protein, in the ratio of 3:1. It may be a meal, or a drink/shake.

Carbs: Fruit, Vegetables, Seeds and Nuts, Legumes, Grains.

Protein: Eggs, Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese, Meat, Fish, Beans, Oats, Nuts and Seeds

Post-training breakfast might be:

Fruit with Yoghurt topped with nuts and Seeds,

Eggs and Toast,

Smoothie,

Frittata with potato/sweet potato, corn

Porridge made with milk, topped with fruit, or yoghurt

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