Your Intake During The Run
Carbohydrates are the ultimate sources of energy that maintain the glucose levels. Getting the right amount of carbohydrates before the energy levels fall is the key to ensure sustained endurance. The pre-run carbohydrates that you have consumed can provide fuel until the first hour of the run depending on its intensity, after which you need to top it up with almost 30 to 60 g of carbohydrates per hour for the next 1 to 2.5 hours. If the run extends by 2.5 hours, the carbohydrate quantity should be increased to 60 to 90 g per hour. You can start fuelling up with carbohydrates at 45 minutes from the start of run and continue consuming adequate amounts at regular intervals during the marathon.1,2
Some foods that provide carbohydrates are given in Table 1. During the run, carbohydrate-loaded gels, bars and chews can be good options because they are handy and convenient to eat on the go.1,2
It is necessary to keep yourself hydrated constantly throughout the run to maintain your electrolyte balance. Consume adequate amounts of fluids from start to end to avoid dehydration-related problems, which can hinder your performance and affect your health. Although plain water is sufficient, sports drinks can be beneficial in providing both carbohydrates and fluid requirements during event. It is recommended to take almost 400 to 800 mL of fluid per hour during the run.2,4
During the long duration of the marathon, fuelling up your muscles with carbohydrates needs a special approach. An average of 45 g of carbohydrates per hour is recommended by experts during the run. When we say carbohydrate loading, it doesn’t mean taking all of them at once, which may burden your body. The key to top up with the carbohydrates in the right way is to take them in right quantities at the right time. You can divide the total quantity into small portions and take them in regular and frequent intervals because carbohydrates take time to get absorbed every time you consume them. A sample nutrition plan has been provided here that includes energy gels, chews and sports drinks. You can follow this plan after consulting your trainer because your requirements may vary from others’.
- Energy gel: usually provides 25 g of carbohydrates per gel
- Energy chews: provide approximately 4 to 8 g of carbohydrates per chew
- Sports drinks: provide approximately 15 g of carbohydrates per 240 mL
The sample plan is made such that it provides around 45 g of carbohydrates per hour on consumption of these energy gels, bars and drinks. Try to follow the right fuelling strategies and keep going!!
- Nutrition strategies: fueling your body for race day [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2016 Apr 27]. Available from:http://www.sanfordhealth.org/Content/PDFs/MedicalServices/SportsScience/SSSI_Nutrition_for_Runner.pdf
- Marathon nutrition fact sheet [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2016 Apr 27]. Available from: https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Marathon_Fact_Sheet_web-ready.pdf
- Gopalan C, Rama Sastri B.V., Subramaniam S.C. Nutritive value of Indian foods. 1989; Hyderabad: National Institute of Nutrition, ICMR.
- Christensen K, Lindberg J. Carbohydrate and fluid requirements for endurance runners [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2016 Apr 28]. Available from: https://cehsp.d.umn.edu/sites/cehsp.d.umn.edu/files/2carbohydrate_and_fluid_requirements_for_endurance_runners.pdf