The following post was written by Jim Blake. Jim is our Best Damn Race Marketing and Sales Manager & also runs the website InsaneMarathon.com
So you have been following your marathon or half marathon-training schedule exactly as written. Race day is approaching; you’ve picked out your race day outfit, iPod playlist and checked out the course profile. You are ready to have the medal draped around your neck at the finish line!
Not so fast. If this is your first long distance race one of the most important things you need to consider is race day fueling. Your body can only store so much energy and during a full marathon you will burn through all of your reserves.
Here are my personal race day nutrition habits for you to try!
Water, tea or black coffee plus carbs (oatmeal, cereal bar, bakery item) 1 hour before start of race.
The day before I race my marathon I head to a convenience store, coffee shop, etc. and purchase a bottle of water and some form of carbohydrate snack. I make sure I have this in a bag that I can take with me to the race start. If I am staying at a hotel I also make a hot coffee or tea to drink while heading to the race start. The small caffeine kick helps me focus and wake up completely before the run.
Gels. I highly recommend the use of nutritional gels during your marathon. I personally use Honey Stinger brand but there are many different types to choose from (Gu, Hammer, Power Bar, + more). You will want to practice a few long training runs with these products before your marathon. Some people find that a particular brand causes gastrointestinal issues. You definitely do not want to be making unnecessary pit stops on race day!
I have found that taking a gel every 45-55 minutes provides sustained energy that can help you completely avoid the infamous “wall”. For example if your goal is a 4:30 marathon you would want to have around 8-9 gels, spacing them out every 45-55 minutes of running.
When you take a gel during your race make sure you wait until you see an upcoming water station, open the gel pack, squirt the gel in your mouth right before the water station and then use a water cup (not sports drink) to swallow the gel. I always grab an additional cup of water to swish around my mouth and spit/drink.
Water, tea or black coffee plus carbs (oatmeal, cereal bar, bakery item) 1 hour before start of race. Again, I recommend a little caffeine and some carbs to get you ready for the race!
Your body actually stores enough energy to get you through an entire half marathon without the use of gels or additional nutrition. However, adding a single gel around the halfway point, eating a banana or using a couple cups of on course sports drink should be all you need to make it to the finish.
Less Than a Half Marathon
Any events below a half marathon you will be fine with on course sports drink.
Make sure to drink at least 8oz of water one hour or so before the race begins.
What type of sports nutrition do you enjoy? Do you have any tips you would like to share with us? Everyone is different when it comes to nutrition so make sure that you experiment with a few different options on your long training runs.
QUICK PRO TIP: During the pre-race expo take all of the samples you would like to try home with you in your race bag, but do not eat or drink anything you are not familiar with before your race. I have heard countless horror stories about runners who try a new protein bar, drink, wafer, vegan snack (you get the picture) only to end up getting sick the night before or having a lot of unanticipated bathroom breaks. You have been warned!