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Archives for the day Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Nutrition and long runs

Now that everyone is ramping up their distance for the California International Marathon and the Oakland Running Festival in March, remember to consume enough calories for those long runs.  When you start getting into the long runs of longer than 10 miles, it is easy to start watching your waistline and legs and admiring your physique.

It is not uncommon for people who go from a sedentary lifestyle to running a marathon to lose 30 or more pounds and a few inches off the waste.  If you want to lose more weight or inches, add other workout routines, and do not cut the calories.  Your body needs them to complete the long runs.

Long runs to strange things to your body.  You have to keep your body full of good fuel.  Junk calories can sneak up on you at mile 20 of a practice run.  It is okay to fill up on junk food after your 20 mile practice run but not the day or two before the big run.  I say this because it is rare that your body will crave junk food after a 20 mile run.  It will crave salt and electrolytes so be sure to feed your body the critical minerals that were sweat out.  I found that popping a couple Hammer electrolyte pills at around mile 15 helps a lot.  Nutrition gels at the prescribed intervals listed on the package helps too.

Getting to run 90 minutes is great.  90 minutes is the accepted point where you start burning fat.  After about 3 hours, weird things start to happen.  Your body needs minerals and calories.  If you do not get those minerals, you have a good chance at crashing or bonking.  Crashing is bad.

To keep from crashing during your long run, keep the following tips in mind.  As always, customize to suit your tastes.

  • Limit the junk food for two days prior to the long run.
  • Have a good breakfast on run day.  I like Ted’s terrific pancakes with an extra ½ teaspoon of salt and an extra tablespoon of sugar.  A couple pancakes and a cup off coffee the pre-run prep.
  • A couple cups of water and gel right before I take off for my run.
  • Gel every 45 minutes.
  • Electrolyte pills at 2 hours
  • One or two bites of PB&J at 2.5 to 3 hours.
  • I carry water and try to consume at least 20 ounces per hour.

Follow this routine or a similar routine and you should be fine for your long runs.  If you feel like you don’t want to ever drink water again for the rest of your life, you should get some electrolytes.