It’s Marathon Week: Prepare Your Body with Proper Nutrition

By: Cyndy Patton and Rick Pietzak

In the final week before the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, Jeffrey Lucchino, dietitian at UPMC Sports Medicine, recommends runners maintain fluids and carbohydrates in the days leading up to the race. Taper your training, not your fluid or carbohydrate intake.

Drink freely the day before the race, consume fluids that you’ve consumed all throughout your training that worked well for you.

When you wake up, drink 16 ounces of water. Drink 8 to 10 ounces of a sports drink about 10 minutes prior to racing.

Carbohydrates will help keep your brain and body energized throughout the race. Once per hour, you should consume at least 30 to 60 grams of carbs, which could be 8 to 16 ounces of sports drink and/or a sports gel in addition to water.

It is important to drink fluids during the race. Fluid requirements vary by runner. A good guide is to drink what you drank on your long runs and drink when thirsty. Take small gulps rather than sips. Gulping actually increases the rate at which you digest and absorb the beverage compared to sipping. Drink toward the higher amounts if you sweat moderately to heavy. If you’re a salty sweater, lean more toward the sports drinks that contain sodium to replace the salt your body is losing through sweat. Everyone’s fluid requirements can vary. Be sure not to over-hydrate, especially if you do not sweat a lot. Your body is like a sponge, you can only absorb so much fluid at one time.

Plan out a breakfast with plenty of healthy carbohydrates in the form of whole grains and  produce at least three hours before the race. Only use foods that have been staples in your sports nutrition plan throughout training; 60 to 75 percent of your breakfast in the form of carbohydrates (whole wheat bagel, banana and low-fat yogurt parfait).