Dallas is a town full of runners! There is at least one 5k, 10k or marathon nearly every weekend. As your mileage increases, so do your energy needs! Current research recommends distance runners need between 15-22 carbohydrates per pound of body weight. Why carbs? Because that is your body’s number one preferred energy source; specifically glucose! Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen which fuels endurance exercise like running! With marathoners, the general recommendation is 55%-65% of total calories from carbohydrates to saturate those muscles with glycogen! Glycogen actually depletes overnight, so your prerace fuel is vital to your success!
Don’t ever try a new pre-run meal on race day! Rookie move! Find what works for you early on in your training. The only surprise you want on race day is a PR. Marathoners, listen up. Runners need between 400-800 calories in the form of carbohydrates, protein and fat for every 2 to 4 hours of exercise. The majority of this meal should be carbohydrates (digested rapidly and body’s number one preferred energy source), a small amount of protein (keeps you fuller longer) and minimal fat. Avoid fiber, as it takes too long to digest and can cause some lovely GI problems for you later during your run. These meals should ideally be consumed 3-4 hours before race time. Waking up that early to eat just not going to happen? You aren’t alone! Eat 1 gram of easy-to-digest carbohydrate per pound of body weight with lean protein 2 hours before race time. In order to avoid “hitting the wall”, you MUST have 30-60 grams of carbs per hour.
Runners should drink at least 8 oz. of fluid with any food consumed during the long run. Aim to consume 30-60 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates per hour of exercise (about 120-240 calories per hour). Speaking of fluids, the best way to know that you are taking in enough is to weigh yourself before and after your run. Fluid intake should match losses. For every pound of weight loss, runners need to consume 12 -24 oz of fluid gradually over the course of the day. Don’t forget about electrolytes! Your sports drink should contain sodium and potassium.
Nutrition 101 for Marathon Runners
Pre Run Meal Ideas:
- Bagel with peanut butter
- Oatmeal with milk and dried fruit
- Greek yogurt and slice of toast
- Waffle with light syrup and fruit
- Banana with peanut butter and granola bar
Stacy oversees public relations and strategic communications for Methodist Health System. Stacy spent more than a decade working as a TV news producer after graduating from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She's run 5 half marathons and is often found running on the Katy Trail. You can also find Stacy and her Shih Tzu, Maddie, on dog-friendly patios in the Uptown area, often cheering on the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs.