The Fall marathon season is quickly approaching! You’ve been putting in the miles and work. Now is the time to start thinking about race day details. As most of you know, a nutrition strategy is paramount for a successful marathon. Calorie intake will provide the energy out to keep you from a collision course with the infamous wall. Let’s take a quick walk through of all the bullet points you need to know. While we are not nutrition experts by any means, we have found some things that work. Here is a basic marathon nutrition strategy to help guide you before, during, and after the race.
There are so many diets out there right now, we really have no clue about the sciences behind them. What we do know is that consistency is key. Just like in training, if you choose a specific make sure you sick to it. Fat adapted diets are very popular at the moment, we like beer so we don’t have anything to say specifically this. If you find that is your wheelhouse, then by all means stick to it. As beer was aforementioned, we stick to a carb friendly diet where vegetables and fruits are emphasized with the right amount to protein to supplement. Nothing fancy just simple and healthy.
DAY BEFORE AND MORNING OF THE MARATHON
Today is not the day to try anything new and spicy foods. The best advice we have had is to make your lunch meal more like a dinner. That means have your pasta or pizza at lunch and then a smaller portion dinner. The nutrition strategy here is to help the digestion process and ideally avoiding mid-marathon pit stops.
For breakfast, stick to the go to foods that you know. Oatmeal, bananas, bagels with nut butter, and cliff bars are what work here. The trick is to also portion this right so you are getting enough, but not eating too much. Ideally, you found this sweet spot in training runs. While you are eating you can run through this checklist to make sure you have the important things ready to go:
- Nutrition (gels all packed in your running shorts with pockets designed to help you go the distance)
- Anti-Chafe lube applied
- Gloves / hats
- Toilet paper
- Post-race bag with warm clothes
Race Day Fueling
What type of in-race nutrition do you use? Gels are certainly the most popular and portable source of energy. The chew-able gummies are also a popular choice. The general rule is to take in calories about every 45 minutes to an hour, which is about a hundred calorie serving. This works well for training, but racing requires more energy so the window is narrowed closer to 30 minutes. For most marathoners, this means you could be carrying over 6 gels! We all have been there the day before a race trying to figure out where in the hell you are going to stuff all of them.
Our running short’s pocket configuration is designed to take majority and even all of the gels for you. We also wanted to make sure all that nutrition is not bouncing around causing annoyance and chafing. Here is a generic nutrition strategy while showing you how to carry these gels with comfort and ease. We recommend a marathon nutrition gel at miles 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 23 for a 3 hour marathon.
Six gels is a lot to carry! Here are a few ideas on how to utilize the pockets to carry these. The side holster pockets can easily fit 3 gels per pocket. However, with 3 in there you may experience some bounce. The rear inseam pockets are perfect to utilize in order to provide some balance. These slip pockets can hold 2 gels and even your ID or a credit card just in case. We have found it is best to fold down the tabs of gels when placing them to reduce the risk of the top part of the tab to come out of the pocket which could chafe a bit.
Option 1 shown above is to carry 2 gels in each holster pocket and one gel with the tab folded down in the rear slip pockets.
Option 2 shown here is to carry 2 gels (with the tabs folded down) in the slip pockets and one item in each holster pocket. You can also see the chews and bars will fit quite well here as well for added variety. This option will free up more space for those of you who are fat adapted to carry other nutrition alternatives.
Another idea is to utilize other pieces of clothing to stuff gels in. Are you wearing sleeves or gloves? Both accessories are great to slip a gel in order to make carrying all of those gels more comfortable. Most running short with pockets on the market do account for the ride while you are running. Traditional front pockets will bounce too much and are not as secure as the holster pockets. We made sure to have a Velcro fastener on ours in order help secure everything. Other common pocket style is the rear zipper, these are great for securing important items like IDs and cash, however they bounce too much when you try to fit more than one gel in. Our shorts were designed through years of experience and we are hope you like them and take advantage of the added comfort. Check out our longer 7 inch shorts, the 192s here to check out all the features.
We all know the rule about protein being critical in recovery, but aside from that, it is important here that you do not give a shit about any nutrition for a little bit. Reward yourself. Happy training and we hope this helps you worry less about carrying gels so you can focus on the finish line!