Fall is here and marathon season has arrived! All of your hard work and training with your health and fitness software or wellness and nutrition programs will be put to the test. The hard work is done. Marathon day is your day to celebrate your training and be proud of an accomplishment that not everyone will get to achieve in their lifetime. Today is your day to put any negative thoughts and energy behind you and believe in yourself because you are capable of accomplishing great things! Here are some tips to enjoying your special marathon day:
- Eat a good breakfast. Food is fuel and you won’t have the energy to make it to the finish line of your marathon without proper nutrition. Certified nutrition educators remind us not to try any new foods just before your marathon. Trying new foods that you haven’t used before could cause GI distress and make your marathon experience not so fun. Stick with foods you know and foods that you have trained with. Be sure to get a mix of simple and complex carbs and some protein. Many of the larger marathons require check-in and lining up in your corral a good hour or two before you actually start. If you don’t eat enough calories, you’ll be hungry again before the marathon starts. Many runners enjoy a ½ bagel with peanut butter or toast with mashed avocados before their big run. Use nutrition apps to help keep track and monitor calorie intake to eliminate stress.
- Remember to eat during your marathon. A marathon is 26.2 miles. You will burn between 300-600 calories per hour, which equates to approximately 100 calories per mile, depending on speed and level of fitness. If you forget to eat during your marathon, you’ll lose strength, stamina, and speed and could increase your risk of injury from other factors such as low blood sugar. Many runners will set a timer on their sports watch each hour to remind them to eat something. It doesn’t have to a lot. A couple hundred calories is all you need each hour to replenish some of what you’ve burned. You won’t be able to replenish it all because you’ll be burning calories faster than you can replenish them and trying to eat too much will sit heavy in your stomach causing GI distress. Use what you trained with – energy gels, energy chews, fruit, bars, and remember to eat a little each hour to maintain energy levels.
- Don’t forget to stretch. Muscles can feel stiff in the morning, especially when it’s cold outside. Be sure to stretch to loosen up the body and decrease your risk of injury. Remember the stretches your functional fitness specialist showed you and do them as often as needed to loosen up. If you feel muscle tightening during your marathon, it’s okay to stop at an aid station or step to the side to stretch. It is better to stretch and give attention to any part of your body that has an ache or pain than to try to run through it and risk a muscle tear or inflammation. Getting injured will take you out of your race and out of training for weeks while trying to recover from a muscular injury.
- Stay hydrated! It can difficult to remember to drink when it’s cold outside, but dehydration can happen in the winter months too. Remember to drink at least 12-16 oz of fluid per hour. This helps you stay hydrated and replenishes any fluids lost. Alternate between water and sports drink so you get electrolytes too. Sodium and magnesium are minerals that are lost in sweat. Cramping could occur if your electrolyte levels get too low or become unbalanced.
- Go easy on your workouts the week of the marathon. You don’t want to show up injured to your big race. Do cross training workouts that are easy on the joints and body the week of your marathon so that you continue to maintain your level of fitness and still give your muscles a break. Indoor rowing machines and elliptical trainers are great cross training choices. Online personal trainer software can help you plan your workouts accordingly to maintain fitness and stay injury free. Enjoy your marathon – you trained hard to be there! Cherish the finish line.