Preparing To Run A Marathon – Just Before And After
This article is authored by Dr. Shweta U. Shah. A practicing homeopath, she follows a patient-centred perspective, emphasizing the benefits of natural remedies and herbs, homeopathy and whole food nutrition.
If you’re reading this article, chances are, it’s a day before the marathon and you’re looking for some last minute inspiration or tips to help you run those miles without cramping up or feeling the ill-effects of fatigue.
Worry not – here are some tips to help you do just that:
The Day Before The Marathon
One day prior! This is when your brain begins to play tricks, and you start obsessing over the littlest of details! One day prior to the run, all you have to concern yourself with is fuelling correctly for the race.
- Eat well-balanced meals like you would on any other day.
- The body needs to load up on carbs, in order to produce glycogen – a must for marathon and long-distance runners. Good food choices are: potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, whole-wheat pastas and bananas.
- Ensure that you drink a lot of liquids all day long; staying well hydrated is crucial. Never chug fluids; drink small amounts, frequently. Water at room temperature is absorbed quicker than warm or cold water.
- When you run, you lose electrolytes—such as salt (sodium)—through sweat. If your sodium levels dip too low, you could cramp up pretty easily. Not replacing the sodium you've lost and just drinking water can lead to hyponatremia, leading to low concentration of sodium in the blood. Electrolyte drinks are available in the market, but even simply adding some Tata Salt to your water will help with extra sodium. Just remember to not overdo this; excess sodium isn’t great for you either.
- Dates - easy to access and are a good source of sugar and potassium.
- Consume small meals every 3 hours, to keep the body satiated and stocked up on nutrients.
- After lunch, make sure you eat light and easily digestible foods. Try to avoid anything too spicy or oily, or you might have to deal with acidity. Avoid snacks with refined flour and sugar. They can cause blood sugar to rise and fall quickly. This hypoglycaemia will cause fatigue and will hamper your performance.
On the day of the race, it is vital that you eat at the right time, so as to give your body adequate time to digest the food. If time is a constraint, make sure you load up on nutrients with a quick-fix; A tbsp. of peanut butter or almond butter with a banana gives you a great glycogen boost.
Hydrating and Fuelling on the Run
Marathons always include water stations along the course. In case you plan to carry your own water, buy the hydration right now and try to get accustomed to running with it. Since that may not be feasible, don’t stress too much about it, there will be lots of opportunities to hydrate along the way.
The body can store only a certain amount of glycogen – the key source of energy during a run. Once the glycogen gets exhausted, the muscles feel heavy and get tired. Consuming tiny amounts of carbohydrates prevents you from hitting a slump while on the run.
Carry with you a few dates or a homemade granola bar. Aim to get in a carb-snack with the first 20 to 30 minutes and make sure that you consume 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour to stay well fuelled up.
Packed with natural sugars, carbs and chockfull of potassium, the banana prevents muscle cramps and wards of the alarming crash. An iconic marathon fuel, it is super easy to carry, so it’s the perfect fuelling-on-the-go as well.
Post-run recovery meal
After your run, be sure to have granola with yogurt. You also need a recovery drink to support and refuel the muscles and body systems. Instead of opting for a store-bought sports drink, have fresh fruit juice with honey, electrolytes and a dash of black salt or even regular salt. Sodium is one of the main electrolytes that your body needs. Ayurveda asserts that kala namak is outstandingly therapeutic and proffers incredible health benefits. Tata Black Salt is a great option as it is hygienically packaged to retain its natural goodness and health benefits.
Know that it will be hard, but you can do it!
A marathon may seem rather daunting and exhausting, however with proper planning, good preparation, and the right attitude, you will be proud of your amazing accomplishment! Remember to begin slow and steady and never get discouraged. Support and encouragement from friends and family helps, so recruit a cheering squad, tie up your shoe laces, and run!
The views and opinions expressed in this content piece are those of the author(s) and not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s).