This is a post for my friends in the Ladies Circle Half Marathon Team – 5 weeks to go.
Today I’ll talk about Raceday nutrition. Taking time to read this will make your day much more enjoyable. Don’t waste all your training by getting raceday wrong.
At the Registration day for my first London Marathon one of the Lucozade boys told me to drink Lucozade every 20 minutes. He did not explain why and I thought he was just promoting Lucozade and so I ignored him and the Lucozade. At 16 miles I hit the Wall. The last 10 miles were excruciating! The following year I trained harder and even bought some fake pills (£28) that claimed to eliminate cramp. At 16 mile I hit the Wall again. For my third London Marathon I had boned up about raceday nutrition. I drank Lucozade regularly and took on gels. This was my first sub 4 hour marathon – ran in less pain than the others.
Think of your body as a car.
In order to work, the car needs a chassis and engine. You have already built these: your strong bones, tendons and muscles; and a strong engine – your heart.
The other two things a car needs are oil and petrol. The oil allows all the parts to interlink and run smoothly – that’s water for you. Your blood carries nutrients to your muscles and your blood is 92% water. You will lose water sweating and if you don’t top it up with water continually your body will not function. But this alone will not make your body move – you need glycogen to fuel the muscles. This is the petrol.
So what’s the problem? At the pace you will be running – your body fully tanked up with glycogen only has enough to last for 90 minutes. After that you’re on empty. Your muscles will disobey your mind, you will be in pain, cry and want to give up. You have run out of petrol. At best you’ll stutter to the end and vow never to run a half marathon again. Even your brain function will be affected – disorientation and confusion.
Two days before the race you begin stocking up on water and glycogen.
Water is easy – drink lots. Not so much that you’re in the toilet all the time. This is overloading – your urine will be clear and the water is just going straight through you. Paula Radcliffe says your pee should be the colour of a fine champagne – straw colour not yellow.
Glycogen is also easy – carbs! Yes I know they’re the Anti-Christ but not for endurance runners. They will stock up your muscles and liver with glycogen – petrol. Again don’t overeat just replace your protein and fat with carbs – good pasta, rice, bread, fruit and veggies – easily digestible carbs the night before – pasta.
Some of your water and glycogen stores will have been depleted overnight – so get up early with a sports drink by your bed and then have a good high carb breakfast – cereals, toast, bagels – whatever suits you. Fruit juice. Top up your water and glycogen.
Keep sipping water and nibbling sports bars right up to the start line. Now you’re fully fuelled and watered. You will feel like a Ferrari!
So far so good. But don’t forget – you’re going to run out of fuel after 90 minutes and your blood is going to get thicker and cloggy quite soon.
So, begin topping up your reserves before you’re on empty – after 30 minutes or so. Walk at the drinks station – drink water – half a cup, and consume one of your gels that you’ve carried with you. Most gels have to be washed down with water to dilute them otherwise they will upset your stomach. Hydro gels can be taken neat but water is a good idea anyway. Sports gels don’t taste nice to begin with so you need to start getting used to them now. They’re glupy! But they are specifically formulated to get the maximum amount of glycogen to your muscles as quickly as possible. They’re sugar basically. Jelly babies do exactly the same thing but it’s harder to consume enough of them to have the same effect.
Water and gels – every 20-30 minutes until you’re 20 minutes from the end. You may feel that you don’t need a gel or water just yet but you can’t afford to get to empty – by then it takes a time to recover.
It looks like there are 5 water stations in the race and so you don’t need to carry water. It will probably be served to you in cups or bottles. Walk – you won’t save time by running or missing them. Walk for 30 seconds have a good swill and then discard the cup/bottle. Bob on!
There is only one gel station at 5 miles – near the top of the hill. So I suggest you take your own. Shove them in a pocket/belt and consume with water at the water stations. Pin them to your leggings.
Think of the gels as medicine – you don’t have to like them – just swallow them. But you should practice now in your long runs with the gel of your choice. Don’t leave it to raceday.
I will post every week now in the run up to the race – covering different aspects. Take the time to read these and I promise you that your raceday will be a much better experience.
If you like thispost then I will know you have read it. Post any further questions.