Last month we discussed training for a marathon, this month we are going to discuss the importance of a solid nutrition plan, or what we refer to as a training diet for your marathon training program. If we look back at “The Grind” article, basically what you want to eat is a balanced diet throughout the week consisting of 65 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein, and 15 percent fat. Ideally, these should be slow-burning or complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, rice, and potatoes. Though your training diet may falter during the week, the day before and the day of your long run, you need to make sure you are consuming the correct amount of carbohydrates or you may find yourself gassing out and not being able to complete your long run. Next we are going talk about what to eat during and after your long run, along with the importance of hydration.
During your long runs, which are considered runs of more than 13 miles, you should consider consuming either complex or simple (fast-acting) carbohydrates, both of which provide a source of energy. Though the simple carbohydrates are more rapid acting, you should experiment with different types of sports gels, powders, bars, and other sources of carbohydrates to find which affect you and which you can tolerate the most. This should be done in advance, not the day of the marathon. Ideally, you should not consume protein during the long run as it may slow the digestion of the carbohydrates.
After your long run and marathon, you should consume both complex carbohydrates and protein. The complex carbohydrates replace your glycogen needs and the protein begins the process of rebuilding damaged muscle tissue from the long run or marathon. This can be accomplished through either a protein/carbohydrate drink and/or in combination with high-protein and high-carbohydrate foods combined with some fat.
Now we need to look at the importance of hydration during your long run and the marathon. It is important to maintain hydration, but not over hydrate, which can lead to hyponatremia (low-sodium level), which can impair performance as much as dehydration can. Water, which makes up 70 percent of muscle, also carries many vital functions, from lubrication to effectively regulating body temperature. Even slight dehydration may decrease performance. Ideally, you should consume 0.5 to 1.0 ounce of water for every pound of body weight.
Lastly, we will discuss planning your long runs for optimizing your hydration and fueling needs. You can plan courses that pass your station, home, or car. This way you can stock a cooler with water, sports drinks, gels, and bars. This also allows you to experiment with different types of products, allowing you to select the most appropriate one for you during the marathon.
As you are starting to see, finishing a marathon is within your companies reach. Next month, we will look at selecting a marathon. Until then, keep running!
SCOTT TOMEK MA, EMT-P has been a paramedic for 25 years with 23 of those at Lakeview Hospital EMS in Stillwater, MN. He is a faculty member with the Century College Paramedic Program and wrote the curriculum for and served as the interim director of their public safety degree program. He is a frequent contributor to EMS Magazine, a frequent presenter at EMS conferences in the Midwest and an educational consultant to fire and EMS services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. NICOLE OLSON is an undergraduate student at Mankato State University where she is majoring in health science with a minor in psychology. Her areas of interest are childhood obesity, nutrition, and endurance sports. She is an accomplished sub-four hour marathoner. She can be reached at email@example.com.