The days leading up to a big event like a marathon can be nerve racking. Thoughts can endlessly spin through the mind. Am I eating enough? Am I eating too much? Should I have gotten a last minute massage? Should I have purchased new shoes? Should I stretch more? What will the weather be like? What should I wear?
Race week confidence can be reinforced with applying sports nutrition concepts. When I toe the line I combine concepts I have learned in my nutrition training with personal experiences and apply them to my individual food preferences. Race day fueling doubts no longer flood my mind. Race day excitement, strategy, and follow through become the focus.
I offer a small glimpse of my pre-race and race-day fueling for the Monumental Marathon. This is just an example of how my marathon nutrition plays out. Endurance nutrition concepts can be customized based on individual body weight, food preferences, fluid needs, and more.
Take a look at my carboloading breakfast!
I didn’t want to go without my staple bowl of oatmeal. For carboloading I made one small adjustment of cooking my oatmeal in apple cider instead of water. I then add a tablespoon of teff flour followed by cashew milk to thin it out. I load it up with Medjool dates and top it with vanilla Greek yogurt. This bowl of oatmeal packs an awesome carboloading punch with over 100 grams of carbohydrate. This is one of my favorite, delicious meals for breakfast, lunch or a quick dinner.
I enjoyed a mid-morning snack of beet juice and dry cereal! Yes, beet juice. Research suggests it may support race day stamina. If not, it’s a wonderful, healthy addition to my diet.
For this particular marathon I decided to whip up pumpkin corn bread as an easy go-to supply of carbohydrates leading up the race. I had a couple pieces Thursday night with dinner (photo available on Twitter ) and 3 more pieces Friday, the day before the race. It’s low fat with a touch of protein and packed with great carbohydrates. I smoother my cornbread with honey to maximize my carbohydrate intake without feeling overly full. Adding a large apple and cup of vanilla milk to my cornbread meal makes for a low fat carbohydrate loaded lunch. This meal stocked over 150 grams of carbohydrate!
After a visit to the expo I snacked on a performance bar. I was hoping to enjoy the banana as well, but a hungry 4 year managed to win the battle for the banana.
In feeding 7 children before a fun night of trick-or-treat, a standard pasta dinner was the easiest way to go. I ate about 1.5-2 times the amount in the photo of pasta and 3 slices of bread, no butter.
At 3am my husband had to answer a work related phone call. Lying in bed unable to fall back to sleep I felt a sense of hunger. Hungry? How can I possibly be hungry? Maybe I was thirsty. The problem was the day was so busy preparing the house for visitors, gearing up for the marathon, and an evening trick-or-treat trek that I decided it was possible I could use more. I decided to drink 2 servings of Ironman Perform sports drink as a middle of the night glycogen stocking boost. I didn’t want to eat anything heavy and load myself down, but I did want to ensure my glycogen stores were topped off.
I went very heavy handed with the honey for my pre-race breakfast. I ate a large bagel topped with a mashed banana, a touch of vanilla Greek yogurt, and a lot of honey. With this I drank sports drink and broke the beet juice back out. I drank plenty of water with the meal and just before leaving the house I drank a cup of strong black coffee.
The race went fantastic!
I turned in my race fuel at the expo the day before. Normally I fill my bottles with sports drink. For this cool weather race, I decided to place less emphasis on sports drink and more on taking gels with water. I started the race with 2 gels and attached a gel to each bottle.
In the past I would have one gel per hour and sports drink at the other aid stations. I decided to place less emphasis on sports drink because I have experienced quite diluted sports drink at times when racing. I know I respond very well to certain steady dose of carbohydrates. During this marathon I took caffeinated gels with water at 6.2 miles, 12.4 miles, 18.6 miles, and at nearly 22 miles. Between gels I took sports drink and occasionally water in meeting my goal fluid intake. That’s right – 4 gels for my 2:48 marathon.
It worked perfect!
I felt great the entire race. I was running with an amazing pack, but realized I needed to make a move and pull away as the finish grew near. After that last gel around 22 miles I put in a surge. I felt so good that surge continued through the finish line. Mile 25-26 was my fastest mile of the race with a 6:12. I managed to pull away from the great group of ladies and earn a 6th place female finish with a 2:48:19. I had a blast doing it!
After the race I made sure to refuel. I drank a large, race provided chocolate milk as well as 2 small smoothies. Within a couple hours I was enjoying pizza at the local favorite pizza hot spot, Bazbeaux’s.
I can honestly say recovery has been as smooth as ever. I may even run a trail marathon next month!
Would you like to give my carboloading pumpkin corn bread a try?
Stay-tuned, the recipe is soon to follow!