Just as you must train your legs to go the distance, your digestive system must also be fine-tuned to deliver the energy & nutrients under the stress of the long runs. You want to get into a routine, knowing exactly what to eat, when to eat it, how much to drink with it etc. If you practice and adjust this during your training long runs, you’ll reduce the chance of problems in the event to almost nothing. Your stomach and GI tract can adapt to delivering nutrients with little or no negative reactions throughout a strenuous endurance event.
– Eliminating Problem Foods
While a variety of foods is great for overall nutrition, your pre-race diet will be more focused. Analyze your eating the day before and the morning of long runs. Over the months, eliminate foods that cause problems. Realize that it may have been the quantity of food. It’s better to err on the side of eating too little than eating too much. But, please, don’t starve yourself. Continue to eat small meals or snacks (which you know will digest quickly) all day long into the evening.
– Control Your Food Destiny The Day Before
Start with the foods that have digested quickly for you leading up to long workouts and didn’t cause stomach or other GI problems. Write down the schedule in a journal where you can review it before your next long one. After each snack, note the amount, the time and any fluid you consumed with it. As you work on the right quantity and timetable, you’ll gain control over how you feel the day before and the morning of the half or full marathon.
Here are a few general guidelines to consider as you practice eating the day before your long runs:
1. Don’t eat a large meal after 5 pm the afternoon before.
2. Avoid salty food and alcohol the afternoon and evening before long runs and the race.
- Eat smaller meals or snacks about every 2-3 hours, starting about 12 noon the day before.
4. Choose foods that digest easily.
5. Drink 6-8 oz. of water or sports drink with your snacks.
6. It takes about 36-48 hours for the food you eat to be digested, metabolized and ready to be used in the muscles during exercise. Last minute nutrition “cramming” will not help you during the long run.
By Jeff Galloway
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