As important as training is for marathons, it’s essential to not forget the other factor that can make or break your run – diet.

One always hears of cases where a person trained for months but could never make their goal or their time only because they just didn’t eat right.

We want to make sure that you never make that mistake, so we’re listing out some basics that you need to keep in mind if you’re training for a marathon or just want to run longer routes.

Carbohydrates
Carbs have terrible street cred. Everybody on a diet hates them and they’re generally disliked. For a marathon runner, carbs are the best friend he/she could ask for. You need to make sure that your body’s carbohydrate fuel tank is always at an optimum before a run. Your body’s preferred energy source during high intensity activity is stored in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. When this gets low, your brain and muscles show signs of fatigue. As a long distance runner you never want that, so it’s best to get your body used to high levels of carbohydrates.

Supplement your diet with fruits for well-rounded nutrition (Image: healthyideasplace.com)
Supplement your diet with fruits for well-rounded nutrition (Image: healthyideasplace.com)

Protein
While carbs are a great energy fuel, don’t overload yourself on a carb diet every day. Keep it balanced as your body requires a little of everything to be in shape for a marathon. Protein helps build and repair muscles. So it’s imperative that you eat protein rich food after a run to help your body recover faster. Protein in the form of milk, cheese, and lean meat is best to rely on. Protein bars are a safe alternative.

Citrus fruits
Studies have shown that citrus fruits help control blood pressure, deliver a powerful anti-oxidant effect and are a good source of fibre. In fact some citrus fruits such as pomelos or grapefruits help in breaking down the fat. So load up on citrus fruits on your next shopping run.

Pre-run meals
Eat meals that are high in carbs, low on fat and moderate in protein before a meal. Make sure you aren’t feeling bloated or heavy before running. And don’t forget to hydrate before a run.

Endurance meals
Isotonic drinks (such as coconut water), bananas, dry fruits are good examples of food that can see you through long runs.

Hydration
Lastly, remember to stay hydrated. No matter where you run, your body loses a lot of moisture because of the strain. Keeping yourself hydrated keeps a lot of issues at bay.

As you progress with your training, understand that your meal intake will change. More than anything else trust your body and your running efficiency. A lot of the times food that’s considered wrong for running can end up being the meal that helps you the most. Your marathon meal will likely be a combination of conventional wisdom and what your body dictates.

Main image: Boston Marathon

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