7 Mistakes New Marathon Runners Make with their Meals
You’ve entered a marathon. Whoop Whoop Yippee! This will be your first and it’s your dream … to prove ‘THEM’ wrong, and run this race.
You know there’s lots of work ahead of you. You know it’s going to be tough at times, but YOU GOT THIS! You know you’re going to stretched for time and be burning through a ton of calories. You don’t know how that’s gonna pan out, but for now, you continue eating ‘HEAD IN THE SAND’ ... you'll worry about time, calories and food next year.
BUT SURELY TRAINING FOR A MARATHON IS A GREAT EXCUSE TO EAT!
You’re going to be exercising, working hard and burning through more calories than ever … so surely IT’S GLOVES OFF FINGERS IN ALL THE FOOD TIME TO PIG OUT ON PIES, open season to eat!
Nope! Nadda! No way Jose!
Not getting your nutrition right, detoxing and dieting and forgetting about fuelling are sure-fire ways to screw up your training and maybe even race-day itself.
And if you’re a tad tubby and need to lose a little lard … and you were hoping to do this from training, I have news for you.
In a US study of charity marathon runners, JUST 11% LOST WEIGHT, over the course of their 16 week marathon training programme.
11% OF THOSE RUNNERS PUT ON POUNDS … DESPITE TRAINING … DESPITE LONG RUNS AND HARD WORKOUTS … DESPITE DESPARATELY WANTING TO GET IN SHAPE FOR THEIR MARATHON!
So take note of my 7 Mistakes New Marathon Runners Make with their Meals so you don't make the same mistakes in your training.
Mistake #1: Over Estimate Effort
Yes you’re doing more exercise. Yes you’re burning more calories. But NO that doesn’t mean you can eat ALL THE FOOD!
As a rule of thumb, you burn about 100 calories for every mile you run. The number of calories burnt depends upon your weight (if you’re heavier you’re burning more per mile), speed (run faster and you’ll be burning more and increasing your metabolism for continued burn for a number of hours), terrain (if you’re running uphill you burn more ‘fighting gravity’ and on grass and gravel footpaths you burn more from a less springy surface) and weather (running into the wind you’ll burn more!)
On your weekly LONG RUN you’re likely to burn through a ton of calories (more on that later), but mid week runs are likely to be much shorter and you’ll also have rest days.
So overall, the number of calories you need to consume over the course of a week is not likely to be significantly different than before you started training, especially if you were already reasonably fit and active.
And the calories you’ve burnt definitely won’t compensate from LOADING YOUR PLATE WITH SUPER-SIZED MEALS EACH DAY!
Over estimating the number of calories burned and loading up at meal times is one of the easiest ways MARATHON RUNNERS PUT ON WEIGHT TRAINING.
Mistake #2: Reward for Running
It’s confirmed … YOU’RE A SUPER STAR! Strava, Twitter and Facebook are going mad … Kudos and Likes … they’re lovin’ todays run!
You DESERVE … YOU DESERVE A REWARD … For your achievement and the hard work you’ve put in TODAY! And EVERY DAY!
If your favourite reward is food, you reach for food to reward yourself for a job well done … A RUN WELL RUN … each and every time you’re done and if that REWARD isn’t a NUTRITIONALLY SOUND choice of food, laden with sugar, fat, salt and calories, then REWARD FOR RUNNING can also help you PUT ON WEIGHT TRAINING.
Eat for run recovery, but just be careful about what you eat and reward yourself for running.
Mistake #3: Daft Detoxes and Diets
You’ve been training hard for months … eating ‘well’ (Mistake #1) and giving yourself small ‘treats’ for motivation after your hard runs (Mistake #2)
It’s a few months out from race day and … YOU’RE IN NEED OF NEW KIT … Supersizing your food has led you to need SUPERSIZED LYCRA and you’re BUSTING OUT OF YOUR SPORTS BRA!
EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! CALL IN THE DIET DOCTOR!!!
Severely curbing your calorie intake through training, at peak training weeks, will do as much damage to your marathon training preparations, as loading up on too much of the wrong foods does.
When you drastically limit the number of calories you consume (let’s forget you’re marathon training and need energy for fuel … let’s just assume you’re a NORMAL person for a minute!), since you’re not feeding your body many carbohydrates and calories (which it needs to burn for energy to carry out normal body functions … like breathing, for your heart to beat and your brain to function) it has to use GLYCOGEN (the body stores carbohydrate as glycogen for use later) to fuel these functions.
The thing is … WATER IS STORED ALONGSIDE GLYCOGEN IN THE BODY. So when your body uses up glycogen to fuel your regular body functions, you’ll also lose water and it's WATER THAT IS LARGELY THE WEIGHT-LOSS YOU EXPERIENCE!
And guess what … Since your body will be using what glycogen it has to keep your heart beating, your brain functioning and doing everything else that keeps you alive, there WON’T BE MUCH LEFT TO FUEL YOUR RUNNING.
So try running, keeping up your hard marathon training programme, on a detox or diet is likely to lead to disaster. Just at the point in your plan that training get’s intense and your runs ramp up, you’re dieting, taking away your running fuel source.
Just don’t do it!
QUIT THE CUCUMBER JUICE CLEANSE!
Mistake #4: Curb the Carbs
A few years back carbs were king. Marathoners loaded up on massive plates of carbs at every opportunity. Pasta was just perfect!
But these days, as a nutrition coach working with runners, I'm more likely to see CARB PHOBIC CLIENTS LACKING IN ENERGY, MOTIVATION AND MORALE than runners who are piling up too much pasta on their plates.
Carbs are the enemy and sugar detoxes are the thing!
But carbs are really important you if you’re training to run a marathon, as you NEED CARBS TO BURN AS FUEL TO POWER YOUR TRAINING.
You're training to run a marathon and to do that you need to get your body trained to burn fat as fuel. But your bodies biochemistry is such, that you NEED CARBS TO BURN FAT ... it's a simple (actually rather complex, but I don’t want to bore you with the science!) chemistry equation
CARBS + FAT = ENERGY
Yes you can train your body to be more efficient to burn fat as fuel. Yes lots of marathon and ultra runners have a ketogenic diet (with very very low amounts of carb in their diets). Yes you can go keto too!
But unless you want to change up your diet completely and miss out on all the great foods, meals and nutrition that whole-grains bring to your diet, then you need to be eating good quality carbs to give you energy.
Training for a marathon and eating healthy is hard enough ... throw in "quitting carbs" (note: I didn’t say take out crap sugary, fatty sweets, cakes and treats!) whilst still trying to eat a balanced healthy diet and unless you’re entirely dedicated to the KETO CAUSE you’re likely to give up from lack of energy, motivation and morale to train!
Mistake #5: Can’t Cut the Crap
When you’re training for a marathon you’re putting your body through immense stress and strain, day in day out, week in week out.
YOU NEED TO GIVE YOUR BODY THE BEST AND HEALTHIEST FOODS YOU CAN.
Your body NEEDS NUTRIENTS and in greater amounts when you’re marathon training.
If you’re not used to eating a balanced healthy diet, and you’re reliant on processed foods, ready meals, takeaways, sweets, cakes and treats you’re be missing out on great meals and necessary nutrition.
Processed foods, ready meals, takeaways, sweets, cakes and treats are often HIGH IN SUGAR, FAT AND SALT to make them palatable and tasty. They’re often low in good nutrition, low in vitamins, minerals and fibre which are essential to OVERALL GOOD HEALTH AND WELLBEING.
Marathon training is the time to CUT THE CRAP … and FOCUS ON REAL FOOD FOR FITNESS!
Mistake #6: Forget to Fuel
When you’re marathon training you need the mindset of an athlete and you need to think of your body as the engine that’s going to power you around the course on race day.
YOU WOULDN’T SET OFF ON A LONG CAR JOURNEY WITHOUT FIRST FILLING UP WITH FUEL
Likewise attempting your long runs without loading your body with fuel first and during your runs will only lead to frustration!
Yes, you will burning fat as fuel when you’re running long and slow in training and when you’re racing halves and your marathon.
But you also need carbohydrate to help your body burn that fat as fuel. AND YOUR BODY CAN ONLY STORE CARBS FOR ~90 MINS OF RUNNING.
Try and run on empty and you’ll bonk, hit the wall, crash and burn on race day.
For most of us eating just before exercise and eating on the run is at best uncomfortable. YOU NEED TO TRAIN YOUR BODY TO ACCEPT FOOD ON THE RUN.
You’re going to need carbohydrate to help fuel your marathon. You need to use your long runs, not just as opportunities to train your body to run further and your mind to push through pain, but also to TRAIN YOUR GUT FOR FOOD.
You might not tolerate gels … so try real food. Real food might make you cramp … so try sports drinks and gels. Try out brands, flavours and sweet and sticky fuelling options until you find something your stomach can stand.
IT’S GLOOPY AND STICKY ISNT A GOOD ENOUGH EXCUSE
Not training your gut and trying options out in training … then grabbing a banana or sports chew on race day … and you’re LIKELY TO SPEW!
Mistake #7: Recovery from Runs
What’s the first thing you do when you get back from a long run?
Upload your run to Strava?
Drink a pint of water?
Have a shower?
Eat everything in the house?
When training, in the gym, a speed session or long run, your body will have burned through a load of calories and depleted your muscle glycogen (your body’s carbohydrate store), stressed your muscles that now need to recover and lost fluids and salts through sweating.
The food you eat after running needs to replenish these lost nutrients, so you're well on the way to recovery and preparing your body for your next run.
But, whilst your body NEEDS NUTRIENTS for fast recovery, very often our appetites are suppressed after exercise.
Have you ever felt … “I just don’t wanna eat” after hard exercise?
Unless you replenish the carbs you’ve used up running, you’ll be lacking in energy for your run the next day.
Unless you rehydrate after exercise, you’ll be dehydrated and deflated.
Unless you eat plenty of protein to repair your worked and sore muscles, you wont be able to recovery quickly and build power in your performance.
So after running, and especially after your super long runs, make sure that you eat real food for faster recovery, so you can be ready for your next training run.
So now you know the typical mistakes that new runners make with their nutrition why don't you join my .Eat Right for Your Marathon CHALLENGE!
5 Food Fundamentals for Marathon Training Success you MUST DO if you’re serious about taking your training to the next level.
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