Prepare your first marathon

If you are a running fan and you are considering taking the leap to the medium or long distance, you will surely have many doubts regarding the previous planning. The nutritional recommendations tend to be more focused on the food prior to the competition, but without a doubt, the last weeks before your competition are the ones that will make the difference and not so much what you eat or do the day before. For this we will try to give some general advice.


Find a coach:

Even if you are used to running and have always done it on your own, I assure you that good physical preparation requires much more thoughtful planning than just accumulating kilometers.

An expert can teach you to improve your running economy, technique, breathing, etc. As well as marking a personalized training plan based on the time you have until the competition and your initial condition. Don’t forget that strength training is just as important as running  . This will help you so that the muscular limitation is not a cause of abandonment.

In addition, running in a group or with people who are preparing the same competition as you gives you extra motivation.

Medical check-up, is your heart ready to run 42Km?

This is a serious matter. The other day this publication caught my attention  in relation to the amount of blackouts and dropouts that occurred in the Seville marathon that took place a couple of weeks ago. Is the running boom making people decide to compete without being prepared for it? It may be, what is clear is that if you are going to start doing any type of sporting activity or are doing it continuously, you should take a stress test . This will give you all the guarantees to avoid scares in the course of your preparation.

In addition, knowing your VO2max will help you optimize your workouts by working with your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds.electrocardiogram

What we must never forget as popular runners is that the purpose of all this is to have fun , to improve ourselves, if there comes a time when we endanger our health or bring us more harm than good, it is a sign that we have lost the north.

I’m going to prepare a marathon. Should I eat differently?

In reality the recommendation will be the same as for the rest of the population. Eat healthy, eat well.

The typical phrase of “follow a varied and balanced diet” yes, but balanced for you. That implies that you have to pay attention to your personal needs, your meal schedules but also your training schedules. The pre- and post-training intake becomes more relevant.

In addition, your macronutrient requirements may vary depending on the type of training and the time of planning you are in. For this reason, it is important to have a professional dietician-nutritionist who will guide you on a totally personalized diet , which will be modified depending on your progress or adaptation to it.

To run more, should I lose weight?

One thing does not imply the other, but it seems that when runners decide to “take care” of their diet in the face of a challenge, everything entails losing weight. Of course, the weight-to-performance ratio is proven , and that an optimal fat percentage will help you improve your physical condition. But if you have the marathon in a month and there are 10 kg left… you are already late. Try to improve your diet from day one but set longer-term body composition goals, that is, realistic goals.

Additionally, extreme calorie restriction for the sole purpose of weight loss greatly increases the risk of injury and decreases recovery between sessions. You may lose weight but in this case your performance will not increase, do not play it.

Do I have to start supplementing?

vitaminThis is also a frequent question. If I’m already a marathoner, I need an extra. Well, it does not have to, we are also going to distinguish the supplementation of the diet in the day to day, and the one we take to compete.

If your diet is well-established and meets your nutrient requirements, as we have discussed above, you do not need extra supplementation. It should be assessed in each case and depending on the needs and deficiencies of the athlete.

During training or competition, that is something else. The intake of liquids and energy nutrients based on carbohydrates must be ensured, therefore, a good way to achieve this is through commercial preparations in the form of gels or drinks . But always within a planned and trained strategy.

Feeding is also trained

Undoubtedly, just as you should shorten your legs to run 42 km, also your digestive system to eat and drink running. For this, the strategy must be tested in training especially in long runs. Don’t leave anything to the last minute or to improvisation.

Think that you must learn to dose yourself, to know your sensations when you need nutrient or liquid. Thirst is a physiological need and it is not trained (although there is a difference of opinion in this), if you train, it is the moment when you should drink, choose when to slow down, swallow while moving, the drinks that best suit you. sit, composition, etc.

One of the most frequent problems in this type of competition is hyponatremia (sodium deficiency), and it is not due to a lack of fluids, but rather the opposite. Runners drink water but do not pay attention to the composition of their drinks, it must also be taken into account that the needs of mineral salts may vary for each athlete. Therefore, hydration must also be individually regulated.

Just as the recommendation is always not to experiment with food on the day of the competition, I would say “experiment in your training . ” Try new foods, include different flavors, textures, and so you see what things feel good or bad for you at all times. Digestive problems are one of the most frequent causes of abandonment in competition, almost as much as muscular ones.

One of the points that you should take care of the most in terms of nutrition to promote training is recovery. Rehydration, restitution of glycogen reserves and muscle resynthesis will be your best ally to chain consecutive workouts and improve.

Training more is not better

Do you know the overtraining syndrome? There are many athletes who notice how their performance curve has stagnated in recent weeks despite increasing the load of training. If you notice that your heart rate does not fluctuate as it should during training sessions, it is increasingly difficult for you to recover at a muscular level between different sessions or you simply find yourself permanently fatigued … something is happening.

Train on an empty stomach to optimize my performance.

This is another of the most frequent questions that athletes ask us and it also brings a lot of controversy. As Dr. Chicharro says if you are going to train on an empty stomach, do it for real, that is, after 3 days in glycogen depletion and you will notice that your performance does not improve, but rather the opposite.

It is another thing to train first thing in the morning without eating breakfast, and this is what most of the debates are about. Whether early cardio helps to optimize fat metabolism is not yet very clear, what does seem to be proven is that it improves insulin sensitivity .

Even so, what should prevail is coherence. Nutritionists in general make sure that our athletes eat all meals throughout the day as a rule. But here comes the distinction, if an athlete must train first thing in the morning because he has no other time option, we have two options, either he gets up an hour earlier to make a full breakfast, or we make sure that the previous day’s dinner provides him with glycogen necessary, and have a correct breakfast when finished.timing

What is clear is that for athletes who have to take off hours of rest to comply with their workouts, that hour of sleep may be more beneficial for their performance than having breakfast before.

Other issues to consider:
  • Know the profile of the race.

You have to carry your homework done, and knowing the itinerary and profile of your career more when it is in an unknown city can help us to guide the supply strategies.

  • Study of the footprint, podiatry.

It is not enough to have the latest shoes on the market or the best valued ones, which are the best adapted to you.

  • Know the weather on the day of the competition.

There can always be unforeseen events but knowing the temperature and humidity helps you to consider both the clothing and the concentration of salts in your drink.

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