Anyone running for extended distances or engaging in a marathon will put extra demands on their body when it comes to energy, making it necessary for them to carefully monitor their diet both before and during a race.
Refueling Helps You Avoid Hitting “The Wall”
Depending on your individual weight and speed, running a marathon can burn anywhere between 2000 and 3000 calories. To put that into perspective, 3000 calories is equivalent to 42 slices of bread!
Whether you’re a first-timer or a grizzled road warrior, your body will need extra carbohydrates to refuel your energy supply stores. Failure to do so will result in sudden fatigue and loss of energy while running, also known as “hitting the wall”.
To prevent this, there are sports gels and drinks which are specially designed to keep your energy stores up while you race.
But you don’t have to go to specialty stores to get your energy boosters. There are affordable snacks you can easily find in any supermarket. Here are four delicious kinds of food that you can use to refuel during a marathon, and help you avoid hitting the dreaded “wall”.
Bananas are wonderful for runners. Rich in potassium which can assist in electrolyte balance and the prevention of cramps, they can be quickly consumed in order to refuel during a run. A wonderful source for vitamins C and B6 as well as fibre, it is no wonder the banana has been nicknamed “nature’s power bar”.
Containing high concentrations of natural sugars like fructose and glucose, honey is a great and tasty snack. It is also rich in antioxidants which help keep your body looking youthful. Simply slab some honey over a slice of bread and you’ve got a cheap and healthy snack.
Because they have been preserved, dried fruit such as apricots and raisins are much more energy-dense than their normal counterparts. Dried apricots are a great source of Vitamin A and C, as well as iron. Raisins are cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and chock full of antioxidants. Additionally, dried fruit are easy to store, and have a long shelf life.
Gummy sweets make for a tasty snack to munch on in the middle of the run. They contain refined sugars, which can be released in the bloodstream faster for a quick boost. While you certainly wouldn’t consume gummy bears as part of your ordinary diet, they work very well when you need something to quickly refuel during a race.
Remember, Start Slow
Your stomach needs to be trained to handle fuel on the run. A general rule of thumb would be to consume a small portion (40-60 grams) of carbohydrates for every 60 to 75 minutes of running.
Start out with just one type of food to make sure your gullet can handle it. Different types of food work for different people. Ask yourself: Did you feel energised as you refueled? Did your stomach feel any kind of discomfort?
Take note that sports drinks also contain refined sugar. Be sure to factor in the extra calories if you are drinking any sports drinks along with your food for refueling.
Better Nutrition Helps You Enjoy Your Runs
Your diet plays such an important role in your running performance. Once you’ve gotten more experienced, you can try experimenting with how much and how often you refuel while you run the full distance. Refueling on the run is an important part of long distance running, and can make your marathons much smoother!
For additional information on a marathon runner’s diet, check out the RunSociety article featuring Dr. Frankie Tan from Sports Science Centre.
We’d like to hear what your favourite foods are for refueling! Share with us in the comments below!