During the Race
When it comes to race-day nutrition, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. In general, you want to aim for about 30-50 grams of carbohydrates every 45 minutes to an hour. This should be consumed in the form of easily digestible carbohydrates. I start at 45 minutes and try to fuel again at 1:30, 2:15, etc. It’s a simple plan and it works for many people. For a smaller woman, I would aim for 25-30 grams of carbohydrates an hour and for a larger man up to 50 grams. For the full and half marathon distances, this strategy works well. Ok, what to eat then? Those hourly feedings can come in the form of sports drink, gel, chews, or the like. For reference, most gels are 25-28 grams of carbohydrates and a bag of chews can be 24-36 grams of carbohydrates. Sports drinks will vary and I HIGHLY suggest you find out what is on course at any race that you run and try the drinks and products before you consider grabbing something unknown on race day. If I know that the products that a race will be offering do not work for me, then I will carry my own nutrition. If it’s extremely hot and you experiment beforehand, you may want to take in some extra electrolytes. Again, this can be obtained through a sports drink or in the form of a salt/electrolyte pill such as S Caps or Salt Stick. The Steamboat Marathon is fairly exposed to the sun so it can be very hot with the high-altitude sun, or very cold and even snowy. Just make sure that you have your during race nutrition plan ironed out beforehand. All of the sports products use different sugar blends to deliver carbohydrates including cane sugar, fructose, maltodextrin, and the like, so you need to find out what works best for you to avoid an upset stomach.
After running the Steamboat Marathon, we are often uninterested in eating right away due to the effort of running for so long. This can lead to us only drinking water, grabbing a beer right away, or not replenishing at all due to nausea. The bottom line is that, within 30 minutes after the race, you need to get something in your stomach that is a good mixture of carbs and protein. This will start the healing process and replenish your body with glycogen that you depleted during the race. Within one and a half hours of the race make sure you eat a meal. This meal should have carbs for replenishment, protein for healing, and fat for its anti-inflammatory properties. Also, make sure to add in our old friend fiber. A few examples are a wrap on a whole-wheat tortilla, turkey, hummus, avocado, veggies and an apple, or a big veggie bowl of brown rice, black beans, loads of veggies, a cashew tahini cream sauce. Of course, you might be thinking, “I’m grabbing a beer and pizza or a burger!” That is fine as well, you’ve worked hard, but still make sure you replenish with all the points above that will help your recovery the best. Training actually extends into recovery, it doesn’t end at the finish line. Have a salad with that pizza or add some avocado to that burger.
Ok friends, you have one more week, eat well, run strong and rest up. I will be sending out a blog post on your taper in two weeks.
Happy training and we are excited to welcome you to Steamboat!
Cara A Marrs, RDN
Cara is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, race director, and an avid runner and skier