Fueling for the Long Haul
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Written by: Nancy Clark
Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark has several ideas on how to enhance your marathon performance with winning nutritional strategies.
1. PACK IN GOOD CARBS
Carbo-load on a daily basis to refuel your muscles during training. Carbohydrate-rich foods include pasta with tomato sauce, plain baked potatoes, rice, breads, cereals, fruits and juices. Carbohydrate-poor choices include pepperoni pizza, cheesy lasagna, cookies and ice cream, which get their calories from fat.
2. CHILL OUT
Rest days allow muscles time to store carbohydrates and get fully refueled after long workouts or hard training sessions.
3. STAY THE COURSE
Avoid last minute dieting. The best-fueled athlete will have greater stamina and endurance than the dieter who may be a few pounds lighter, but is sub-optimally fueled.
4. THE SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT
The slower you go, the more you may need to fuel yourself for the long haul. Consider drinking diluted juices or de-fizzed cola, sucking on hard candies, eating chunks of sports bars, bananas and other easy-to-chew and digest foods that friends can hand you. Your muscles will thank you.
5. HYDRATE OR SUFFER
You’re well hydrated if you urinate frequently (every 2 to 4 hours), eliminating a light-colored fluid, and in significant volumes.
6. KNOW YOURSELF
Experiment during training to learn what foods settle best before, and during long training sessions. Some popular choices include cereal with low fat milk, oatmeal, bagel with a little peanut butter, toast, bananas and energy bars.
7. BEFRIEND FIBER
Include enough fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains to promote regular bowel movements, but not too much fiber or you’ll endure undesired pit stops.
8. BREAKFAST IS FOR CHAMPIONS
Eat the morning of long workouts and races to maintain a normal blood sugar level. If eating food early upsets your system, have an extra snack before bedtime.
9. ALL JUICED UP
Drink sports drinks during long workouts. You’ll have greater stamina and endurance. Target about 150 to 250 calories per hour (after the first hour) to avoid hitting a wall.
Sports Nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD is the author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions, as well as her new Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for New Runners: Getting It Right the First Time, available on nancyclarkrd.com.