Q I will be running four marathons in 29 days. What’s the best way to replace my energy stores between each race?
A Running multiple marathons requires a careful refuelling strategy. After each race, your priority is replenishing fluid losses and refilling depleted glycogen stores as efficiently as possible.
The best way to gauge how much you should drink after a race is by weighing yourself before and after. For every 500g of weight lost, you need to drink 750ml of fluid. Don’t gulp this amount immediately after the race, but sip every five to 10 minutes and eat some solid food until you feel recovered.
Choose a high-carbohydrate snack and aim to consume 1g of carbohydrate per kilo of bodyweight (70g for a 70kg runner) within the first 30 minutes after each marathon. Including protein with the carbohydrate will speed glycogen recovery. Ideally, aim to consume about 3g carbs for every 1g protein. Try a cereal bar or energy bar; chocolate milk; a tuna or peanut butter sandwich; a fruit and yoghurt smoothie; fruit cake, malt loaf, fruit bar; fresh fruit with yoghurt; or a handful of dried fruit with nuts.
Continue to eat a similar-sized snack every two hours until your proper meal. This will promote faster recovery. It takes up to seven days to replenish glycogen stores after a marathon. Stick to easily digested meals, such as pasta with tomato sauce, jacket potatoes with tuna or cottage cheese, grilled fish with potatoes, vegetable based stir-fries, or noodles with prawns.
Running a marathon can suppress your immune system for up to 72 hours. Cut the risk of catching a cold by consuming 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour during the race. This will prevent a dip in blood sugar that might trigger a surge of stress hormones. A sports drink, diluted juice or energy gel are good options. Taking vitamin C supplements a few weeks before your race may also help, as will extra sleep in the days after the race.
— Anita Bean, RW Nutrition Editor