By Dr Adrian Hodgson, Senior Sports Scientist at Lucozade Sport
Running a marathon is one of the most satisfying accomplishments you can achieve. All the hard work will have been undertaken in the weeks and months before the event but there are some things that can give you an edge for the main event. Here is a step-by-step guide to ensure that you are ready for race day.
1. Eat well the night before
The night before your race, eat a meal you enjoy and you are used to. The aim is to ensure that the meal is rich in carbohydrates, this could include foods like pasta, rice, bread, potatoes. This meal will ensure your carbohydrate stores in your muscle and liver are stocked up before race day. These stores of carbohydrate are essentially the petrol to the engine on race day. We are all know that an engine cannot run on an empty tank of petrol, so stocking up these carbohydrate stores will reduce the risk of fatigue during the race.
2. Don’t eat too close to bed time
Try not to eat too late in the evening before the race. Make sure you plan ahead so that you can avoid rushing this meal. Give your body time to digest the evening meal and relax, which should hopefully mean you get a good night’s sleep which is vitally important.
3. Carbohydrates for breakfast
Similarly to the night before, priming the body with carbohydrates at breakfast is one way to ensure that your performance does not suffer during the race. Stick to breakfast meals and products you have used in the build-up to the race porridge, toast, cereal, bagels and fruit juice are all great choices.
4. Reduce fat and fibre
Keep fibre and fat to a minimum when having your race day breakfast as we know these can cause upset stomachs during the race. This simple tip will ensure you’re in top condition for the challenge ahead.
5. Keep hydrated before the race
Don’t neglect drinking before the race – keep a bottle of drink with you – little and often is key. Dehydration may result in a decline in endurance performance. Even a 2% reduction in your body weight has been shown to negatively impact performance. This may have a negative effect on the intensity of your race.
6. Take on fuel during the race
As we have mentioned, our bodies are like cars – they can’t run on empty. The stores of carbohydrate in our body can deplete during the race. The aim is to consume some carbohydrate during the race to avoid the onset of fatigue. One size does not fit all. Faster runners may need more carbohydrate during the race, while slower runners may need less. Aim to consume between 30g-60g of carbohydrate per hour. Isotonic drinks such as Lucozade Sport can help replace the salts and sugars lost whilst running.
During the race drink little and often to avoid dehydration and ensure carbohydrate is being consumed. Avoid drinking large volumes of fluid in one go, this can be a bad thing. You don’t want to get a stitch.
8. Do not forget to rehydrate and recover after the race
Once you cross the line it is recommended to recover. Consuming carbohydrates and electrolytes in the hours after exercise will ensure rehydration and replace those depleted carbohydrate stores.
9. Tuck into a tasty meal after the race
Eat a meal you enjoy, but do not forget to neglect carbohydrates. The meal should be rich in carbohydrates to top up those carbohydrate stores in the body which are likely to be pretty low having just completed the race.
10. Finish up with some protein
It is not just carbohydrate that is important after the race. Combine some protein to help your muscles grow and adapt. Treat yourself with around 20g of high quality protein, this is equivalent to a palm sized of protein on a plate of food. Meat, fish or dairy is advised.
Lucozade Sport is the drink on course at the Virgin Money London Marathon. Lucozade Sport are aiming to get 1 million people moving more by 2020 with their Made To Move Campaign