I have had A LOT of questions about how to prepare for a marathon and there is a lot that goes into it and it's like I completely forgot all that until I was packing my bag for my race and thought "I should do a blog post on this!"
I still consider myself VERY VERY new in the sport, but I'll tell you all that I know as usual!
This blog post is going to cover the nutrition the night before and during the marathon as well as what to bring. To be 100% honest, with nutrition, the BIGGEST tips to know are :
- You need a lot of nutrition specifically in carbs
- You should know WELL in advance the nutrition that has worked for you on long runs and implement that on race day
Intra race Gus
I think that many people get confused on where to even begin though and don't know what to take even on the long run to begin training. One gu or gel normally has about 25g carb (100 calories). I personally do not even worry with it until I hit over 14 miles. I'm not saying that's a good rule to follow because some want them after long runs get over 12 miles, but I honestly don't love drinking or eating while I'm running. I just want to get it done. Normally though, when you know that you are going to be taking a gel, you want to take them early and throughout. Your body is going to run out of glycogen quicker, the faster that you are going. But typically at a marathon pace, you would run out at around 2 hours. Well, at two hours you are out of it. You don't want to supplement at that point and have to wait for it to get in your system. You want to have it ready long before.
So, I typically recommend taking one (or even 1/2 of one) at intervals during your runs. Normally I actually will take half of a gu at mile 6 and hold it in my hand until mile 10 then take the rest. Then at mile 14, I'll take another half then mile 18, another half. I have found that this system works well for me and provides me the energy to get through the entire marathon if it were flat. I ended up taking 3 gus this time because it was uphill and I knew I need more!
When I take half, I just simply hold it upright in my hand until I take the other half. It doesn't bother me one bit and I have found this doesn't upset my tummy like a full one does. However, many people might take their gus at 6, 12, 18 miles and be done. Again, you have to find a system that works best for you.
Morning Of Fuel
This is pretty simple and standard. You want to have a slow digesting carb right when you wake up. I've heard of some sources saying to wake up at like 3am to eat. Yea no thanks! Lets be realistic here. My race started at 6:30am and so when I woke up, I just had a typical breakfast. I personally do not love stuffing my face that morning because then I'm just going to feel bloated and sick. I just have a typical breakfast (1/2 cup oats, 3 egg whites, tablespoon peanut butter). When you get to the race, right before, you want a fast sugar such as a banana. Again, for me, this start time for this race was too early. I couldn't eat a big bowl of oats then eat a banana like 15 min later so I just stuck with the breakfast and the gus, but eating a bagel or banana at the start is a great idea.
Night Before Fuel
CARBBBBB LOAD! Jk. I actually don't really like this trend of telling people that they need to just stuff their face with carbs. Of course the entire day leading up, I'm eating more than usual. I basically don't even worry with protein and just eat whatever I want all day in carbs. The night before, I have a big meal normally considering of a sandwich and fries and a dessert if I'm feeling it. I stop when I'm full. When I'm eating dense carbs, I'm not worried about eating until I'm stuffed to the brim. Again, this will only lead to digestive problems if you are eating crazy stuff that your body isn't used to. Just eat a good meal.
Drink drink drink! But if you are drinking, you need to be supplementing salt as well, which is what I did. I try to aim for a lot of water anyway so I wasn't like gorging myself on water. I don't drink gallons and gallons. If my pee is clear, I'm hydrated. I just make sure that I'm hydrated and I take 3 salt tablets (and also salt my food like crazy but that's per the usual). I take those tablets morning, noon, and before bed. I drink Cocogo before bed, and I take another salt tablet in the morning before the race.
What to Bring
- Running Shoes & Socks (duh)
- You want to make sure that your socks are high enough and thick enough to provide cushion on your heel. You do not want to be dealing with blisters because of this.
- Running Tank/Sports Bra & Shorts (duh)
- f it's going to be a really hot race, then I might would wear a short sleeve shirt. Chafing around the armpits is really painful and much more common with tanks
- All Gus & Gels (I took 3 of the Salted Caramel)
- Flipbelt (this is to carry all gus/gels/candy)
- Salt Tablets
- Arm band and headphones
- Garmin watch (I still haven't got one yet because that's a big investment and although I know it will be used-I may be patient and ask for it for Christmas)
- Compression socks (I didn't wear mine this time simply because I couldn't find them)
- All food if you are traveling
- Change of clothes post race (I take sandals so that I can immediately get my shoes off)
I tried to answer questions to the best of my ability in the entirety, but if you have any questions feel free to ask! :)
With love and fuel,