Marathon Madness: What to Know Before & After Race Day

9.13.12  (HealthNewsDigest.com)

health news digestWith marathon season approaching, and the emerging impetus toward healthy living in America, many marathon runners are gearing up for races in the fall. While veterans know what it takes to prepare the body for a race and to recover afterward, there is always room for improvement. And new runners are always seeking tips and guidance as to diet and function. Below, weight loss expert and medical internist Dr. Sue DeCotiis of Manhattan Medical Weight Loss Physician discusses general health tips as nutritionist and co-founder of BeyondDiet.com, Isabel De Los Rios, provides specific dietary instructions on how to prepare and recover this fall.

Pre-Race

· Do not introduce new foods into the diet. As most runners are already healthy eaters, it’s important to focus on what makes your body perform at its best. A diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats including whole grains and proteins, and lots of water are key to preparing your body. About 2-3 days before the race, start bringing carbohydrate intake up to about 60% of your daily caloric count.

· What to Eat:About 2-3 days before the race, start bringing carbohydrate intake up to about 60% of your daily caloric count. A large meal packed with healthy carbohydrates. Wheat and gluten free pasta, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are great sources of energy and are all healthy options that will help to maintain strength and endurance. Proteins are also of the utmost importance; include a 3-4 oz. serving of naturally raised proteins such as meat, poultry or fish.

· How to Eat: Give yourself plenty of time between dinner and bed so that your body has time to digest before race day. Spread out meals throughout the day and allow yourself 2-4 small snacks, including nuts, fruits and vegetables. Stay hydrated; if you are an avid coffee or tea drinker, drink two glasses of water for every caffeinated beverage.

Race Day

· One of the biggest issues that slow runners down is gastritis. The last thing you need during a marathon is to suffer from digestive issues. Often, vitamins will relieve this issue, such as B12, folic acid, magnesium and niacin.

· What to Eat: Be sure to have breakfast consist mostly of carbohydrates and protein. The first meal of the day could be any combination of oatmeal, raw nuts, quinoa, fruits, nut butter, yogurt and eggs. The experts suggest testing out your pre-race breakfast before a run prior to the main event to avoid any gastrointestinal issues.

· How to Eat: Finish breakfast at least 90 minutes before the race begins. Drink 16-24 ounces of water about 2-3 hours before and have another glass about 30 minutes before the race starts; continue to drink 5-7 ounces every half hour throughout the race.

Post-Race

· It’s important to monitor your body during training and after the race is completed. Some women may experience diminishing levels of estrogen throughout the process due to the physical stress of preparing for a marathon. If you experience premature aging of the skin, fatigue, or unexplained mood swings, talk to your physician.

· What to Eat: Coconut water is a great way to replenish the body’s electrolytes. Avoid drinks that are colored or high in sugar content; hydration is the focus. A protein shake and healthy carbohydrates are also important to help your body recover quickly. When snacking, opt for Greek yogurt, granola and berries for antioxidants.

· How to Eat: Consume food slowly and space out meals to avoid overeating. Relax and reward yourself. There is no need to be as meticulous about your diet as you were during training. However, keep your diet healthy to avoid unwanted side effects.