Nutrition for a Spring Marathon!

As 2012 arrives, many runners will start training for that spring marathon.  Whether you’re a seasoned marathon ‘professional’ or a ‘first-timer’ you’ve probably already worked out your running training programme, set some targets for the coming weeks and entered some races to check your progress.  But have you given any thought at all to what you’re going to eat and drink to get the most from your training and stay healthy through the winter months?  Or are you just too confused by nutrition guidelines to even start to work out a personal nutrition plan?

Jane Nodder of Nutriworks recently surveyed the dietary practices and nutritional knowledge of almost a hundred club level runners preparing for the London Marathon 2010 for her MSc in Nutritional Medicine.  Her survey showed that:

  • runners were generally not aware of specific nutrition and hydration guidelines for endurance athletes
  • few runners had calculated their personal nutrition requirements for marathon training, and even fewer had worked out their fluid needs
  • many runners found it difficult to translate nutritional information into actual ‘food on the plate’ to meet their training requirements and support their overall health in a busy life
  • average carbohydrate intake of both male and female runners, was less than the minimum recommended for endurance athletes
  • omega-3 fatty acid intake was also below the recommended levels.  Approximately a third of runners did not eat any oily fish or fresh nuts, whilst over half did not eat any seeds
  • runners in some age and gender groups potentially lacked some micronutrients that are vital for endurance athletes e.g. vitamins C, D, E and folate, and minerals such as magnesium, calcium and iron.
  • many runners were confused about how best to use products such as sports gels and drinks in training and competition
  • runners paid little attention to the timing of meals and snacks during training and competition
  • very few runners had consulted a nutrition professional for guidance on what to eat and drink during marathon training periods
  • 85% of participants wanted to learn more about nutrition for marathon runners.

Following the results of her survey, Jane is writing a series of highly practical articles on different aspects of nutrition for marathon runners for The Running Bug.  Over the next 16 weeks, she will  translate nutritional guidelines into actual ‘food and drink on the plate’ to complement marathon training programmes and help everyone achieve the results they deserve come marathon day.  Each week you’ll find Jane’s articles on Wednesday on The Running Bug website.  So, whatever your level of nutrition knowledge, why not follow each article starting on 4 January 2012 with ‘Dietary & Hydration Guidelines for Endurance Runners – What They Mean For You’.