The snow is melting, the sun is staying out a little longer, and you’re taking off a few of those extra layers. Yup, that means that marathon season is here! How is your training coming? Or better yet, are you eating to fuel your marathon training?
Whether you’ve just signed up for your first marathon, or tenth, fuelling properly as you train is essential to reduce your risk of injury, keep up your energy during training, and ensure you hit your goals. And guess what - it doesn’t just mean you’re eating bowls of pasta before each training session.
So how do you eat to fuel your marathon training?
Well, it starts with your macronutrients. And don’t worry - we won’t ask you to count your macros, calories, etc. It’s important to remember that every body is different and will need different nutrients. It will also depend on your goals. Did you sign up for a marathon for motivation to lose weight? Do you want to boost your cardio? Do you want to just complete a marathon (hello bucket list!).
First: let’s get this straight. Carbs are king.
Your body thrives on glucose for energy, especially that exerted from physical exercise. That means it’s essential to choose carbohydrates that will keep you sustained for a long period, especially during your training periods. Here are a few examples:
Whole grains like oats and barley
Fruits, like bananas, apples
Starchy vegetables including sweet potatoes and carrots
While carbs may be king, healthy fats, and lean protein are essential to promote proper healing and reduce the aches and pains that normally come with long-distance running.
But that doesn’t mean those following a ketogenic diet can’t train for a marathon. However, it’s important to remember that if our bodies are not used to working out without carbohydrates, it will may also use protein as a source of energy. So if you’re new to working out… start slow!
Why do you need protein?
As you likely know, protein is essential to building body mass and muscle. And muscle is what supports our bone structure, preventing injury, and giving us more stamina for long-distances… like a marathon!
What about the healthy fats?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to help reduce inflammation. For the best results, ensure that you add a good-quality fish oil supplement to your routine. Hit your protein and omega-3 requirements with wild-caught salmon or whole eggs (cooked, of course!) or if you plant-based include flax seeds, oils, and nuts.
Now that we’ve covered the essential macronutrients to fuel your marathon training, what about the micronutrients?
Antioxidants will be your best friend, and liver-supportive vitamins and minerals.
We need antioxidants to help us remove free-radicals that may cause damage to our muscles, bones and joints. When we run long distances, we are exposed to a higher amount of free-radicals. Therefore, it’s is essential that we add antioxidants (like vitamin A, C, E, and the minerals selenium and zinc), back in.
When we run, our body undergoes stress, releasing cortisol and pumping out other hormones (hello endorphins!). These hormones are excreted through our liver (our major detoxing organ). By keeping our detox pathways clear, we help to keep our energy up!
Here is an easy sample of your meals during training!
Remember - the amount that you will need to consume will differ based on your body type, your goals, and your currently level of activity.
Breakfast: Proats (oatmeal + your go-to protein powder).
Lunch: ⅓-½ cup of quinoa or brown rice, 1 piece of grilled chicken or tofu, and roasted broccoli (1-2 cups).
Dinner: Roasted sweet potato, beets and broccoli, with wild-caught salmon.