Nutrition support during marathon training
(or half marathon, 10K, etc.)
In most of the runners I speak with, both new clients and friends, nutrition is one of the last things they focus on when they’re training for a race. They’ve got the coach, training plan, the gear, the strength and PT routine, the long run routes, the recovery, the sleep… and THEN comes the nutrition. In a lot of cases, it’s too late to make a significant difference in performance for their goal race. There are a couple reasons for that.
TIME AND PRACTICE
This is a big one! Performance nutrition is not just numbers and calculations (though we’ll get to that), but it’s all about practicing your strategies and taking the time to figure out what works and doesn’t work for you so you’re completely prepared on race day.
Scenario 1: you’re running the New York City Marathon in November. This is a race that starts mid-morning, but requires an early wake-up in order to get to the start, and a lot of waiting once you get there. All of your long runs have been done in the early morning, where you have a small breakfast beforehand that works for you. You realize during race week that that small breakfast isn’t going to cut it before the marathon, but have no idea how, when, and how much to eat before an oddly timed race like New York. Enter much confusion, and either mid-race GI distress or hitting the wall HARD because you didn’t fuel enough beforehand.
Scenario 2: you’re running Chicago in October. During long runs you’ve been taking in maybe one gel, partly because you’re afraid of eating more sugar, and you’ve been feeling ok. Long runs are supposed to feel depleting, right? You sure are exhausted, and recovery seems to take a long time. A few weeks before the race you’re talking to a friend who is working with a dietitian and plans on taking in a gel every 30-45 minutes during the marathon. Your head explodes. Enter much confusion, some scrambling to figure out if you should do the same thing, and likely GI distress on your remaining runs and race (or you take few gels during the race and hit the wall).
That brings me to training your gut. At the beginning of a training cycle, your gut is not prepared to take in fuel every 30-45 minutes (in the case of a marathoner, this would likely be 60-90 grams of carbs in various forms of simple sugars). That means if you tried to do this on an early run in your training cycle, the chances you’d have some form of GI discomfort are fairly high. The gut has to be trained to handle that much fuel, just like your body has to be trained to handle 26.2 miles. It’s also important to figure out what type of fuel works for you, and what doesn’t. Various formulations of gels, chews, etc. can affect the GI system differently from person to person, and you need time to figure out what is going to be most palatable for you.
On top of the variables above, there’s also general nutrition confusion - what to eat before a run, workout, or long run? And what to eat afterwards - is post-run refueling really that important? (YES IT IS!). Ok, but just how many grams of carbs and protein should you consume? Should that change during the taper? WAIT, HOW DO YOU CARBO LOAD?? Let’s also not forget that Karen on Instagram is doing fasted long runs and should you do it too? (NO). What about when your past disordered eating behaviors or thoughts creep in? All of these factors and the confusion around them can impact performance greatly.
Work with me! Guidance from an experienced nutrition professional is a game-changer. If you’re training for a fall marathon, now is the time to start thinking about your nutrition so you’re training and racing strong. I’m currently taking on new clients and have a few different offerings for runners:
The complete runner’s nutrition coaching package: this is 8 weeks, either weekly or biweekly, with each week focused on a different aspect of nutrition and running. We’ll cover pre-, post- and during the run nutrition, important macro and micronutrients, supplements, injuries and off season, your relationship with food and more.
Runner’s nutrition coaching package ‘lite’: this is a 4 week version of the above package, focusing solely on pre, post and during the run nutrition.
A la carte sessions: these sessions are more open-ended and occur weekly or bi-weekly. Nutrition or fueling plans, goals and what we cover in sessions will be individual to you and your specific needs.
I always have a free 10-15 minute discovery call with prospective new clients to chat and see if we’d be a good fit for each other. You can sign up for one here.
More information, including pricing, is also on my website. I am an out of network provider, but do accept FSA/HSA, and can provide a Super Bill or receipt if your insurance offers reimbursement.