Running a marathon, whether for the first time or as an experienced athlete, is a huge challenge and getting a suitable nutrition and fuelling strategy is often the one subject that troubles runners the most.
Ensuring your body is stocked up on everything it needs to complete the 26.2 miles can make or break a run and the good news is that it is easy to get it right.
Lucozade Sport has sponsored the London Marathon for 12 years and Lucozade Sport products will be available on the course again this year. Therefore we are ideally positioned to help runners understand how to create a perfect fuelling strategy.
The below information will help anyone running this year’s VLM or any other marathon. Remember though – if you have a nutrition strategy that works for you, do not change it just prior to race day and make sure you have practised with any products you plan to use on the course.
What should I do in the build-up to the race?
The two major causes of fatigue during prolonged exercise are loss of fluid (dehydration) and reduction in the body’s carbohydrate stores. Therefore these are the two things to concentrate on getting right in the build-up to, and on, race day.
In the week leading up to race day, increase the amount of high carb foods in your diet. This will increase the amount of glycogen (fuel) in your muscles. As a guide, between 7-10g of carbohydrate per kg of body mass a day should be about right. So for a 70kg runner this would equate to between 490-700g of carbohydrate a day.
Ensure you are fully hydrated before you start the race. Slowly consume between 350 – 500ml of fluid ideally four hours before the marathon, if possible. Once your urine is a pale straw colour, you’re right on track. Sip little and often and continue to monitor your urine, topping up as necessary.
What about during the marathon?
Be familiar with your individual sweat rates and fluid needs. You can work this out by weighing yourself before and after a training session. The amount of weight lost is equivalent to the amount of fluid you need to replace. For example 0.5kg of weight loss = 500mls. As a guide, drinking around 150ml every 15-20 min should keep you topped up. Be careful not to over-drink.
When you exercise your body loses electrolytes through your sweat. Lucozade Sport provides a source of fluid but importantly contains both carbohydrate and sodium. The carbohydrate, along with the sodium, helps your body absorb fluid more effectively than water, rehydrating you better than water alone.
Which products will be available at this year’s Virgin London Marathon?
There will be two Lucozade Sport products available on course at the VLM this year. If you plan to use them on the course then be sure to try them in your practice runs prior to the day:
Lucozade Sport Isotonic Performance Fuel
Lucozade Sport is an isotonic carbohydrate-electrolyte drink, designed to help maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, as well as endurance performance. It will be available at miles 5, 10, 15, 19 and 23 on the course.
Lucozade Sport Elite Dual Fuel System Carbohydrate Gels
Lucozade Sport will bring you their newly formulated Elite Dual Fuel System Carbo Gel on course this year. These have replaced the Lucozade Sport Carbo Gels which were on course last year. Using feedback from runners, the new gels are easier to open and easier to swallow than the previous version. They provide runners with 30g of carbohydrate in a concentrated form and do not need to be taken with water. These will be available at miles 14 and 21.
Following the above advice will help you make the most of your marathon experience. After finishing, enjoy every moment – you have earned it. When it's over, eat a small carbohydrate meal or a banana up to 30 minutes after finishing and drink steadily for a couple of hours - your body will thank you in the morning!
Very best of luck to everyone running!
For more tips and information, go to www.lucozadesport.com.