During my training, especially since introducing the longer runs I’ve found out how essential it is to fuel your muscles with Carbohydrates and ensure you have the energy to go the distance. I’ve never looked into it this much before as I’ve only ever typically trained for 5K and 10K. Even stepping up to the half marathon distance I used to just load up on carbs the night before the race and hope that would see my through. Your body can store enough Carbohydrates to keep you going for around 90 min of high intensity exercise.
So a Marathon, totally different ball game. I’m looking to be out pounding the streets of London for anywhere between 3:30 and 4 hours and simply sipping water will have me hitting the wall like a crash test dummy! I’ll share my findings but my advice is to practise, practise, practise and find a fuelling strategy that works for you.
Your body can digest 30-60g of carbs per hour during exercise and this becomes your main source of fuel towards the final stages of your race. There are lots of specialised products and various brands on the market of Isotonic drinks, gels and bars but for some a good handful of jelly babies does the trick. For me I’ve been training with Lucozade sport body fuel and High5 energy Gel plus + caffeine. My fuelling strategy is to take sips of Lucozade sport every 2 miles and 1 gel every 45 mins estimating my carb intake of 39g per hour. I will also be carrying 1 spare gel in case I need the boost for the final miles. This has worked for me in training on 20 mile runs so I’m hoping it will see me across the finish line.
It’s not just during the race that counts; Breakfast is your last chance to grab a high carb meal so take it. I’m murder for skipping breakfast but not on race day. I usually have a bowl of Bran flakes, 2 rounds of toast and a banana 2-3 hours before the race. I then sip water up to the race with another banana 1 hour before.
My other plan is to fill the tanks with high-quality carbs the week leading up to London Marathon. Carbs will form the majority of my daily intake, around 8-10g per kg of body weight. I weigh 75kg so can put away up to 750g of Cereals, pasta, potatoes, bread, rice and veg a day.
After the race it’s all about the recovery. It’ll be tempting to have a nice cold pint of lager but first I always have a pint of milk, slightly old school with all the recovery drinks out there these days but I find it refreshing as well as an excellent source of protein and replacement carbs. I know a lot of people swear by Chocolate milk.