In regards to all the aspects of marathon training and preparation, nutrition is one of the most important topics for which to thoroughly consider and give your full attention. A carefully conceived training schedule is of little value if a runner fails to properly plan to meet his or her nutritional requirements for long distance training and racing. While a general overview of nutritional guidelines are presented below, specific nutritional issues relating to the long run, the taper period, and the marathon are featured in their own sections of this site. I strongly urge you to take time to review the comprehensive nutritional information presented within these pages.
Preparing Nutritionally for the Long Run, The Taper Period, and The Marathon
- Water is the drink of choice for both general health and for runs lasting up to 60 minutes.
- Sports drinks should be consumed (along with water) for runs over 60 minutes in duration.
- Don't rely on your thirst mechanism to indicate signs of dehydration.
- It is virtually impossible to "catch up" on your fluid requirements once you sense that you're thirsty. It is vital to stay well hydrated throughout the day. The color of your urine should be relatively clear. Urine that is dark or approaches the amber color in appearance is a signal that you are dehydrated and need to significantly increase your fluid intake.
- A word about hyponatremia – While
staying well hydrated during endurance exercise is very important,
too much of a good thing can be harmful and even potentially
fatal. Hyponatremia, also referred to as “water intoxication”,
occurs when fluid intake (also including sports drinks) exceeds
fluid loss during exercise, resulting in an imbalance between
the body's water and sodium levels. This condition can lead
to nausea, fatigue and vomiting and in the most severe instances,
seizures, coma and even death.
- While there is much debate regarding the proper mix of foods, aim for 65 percent of your total calories consumed coming from a variety of carbohydrate sources.
- Emphasize healthy and nutritious foods in your diet while limiting your intake of fried and high fat foods.
Please carefully read the following sections of this site for detailed nutritional information that pertains specifically to these important areas of marathon training:
I highly endorse Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook for any athlete interested in becoming more knowledgeable about, and incorporating sound nutritional principles as part of their overall training.