Deciding whether to run a marathon can be a journey in itself, but once you actually sign up for a race that is when the real planning begins. And while your training plan should be top of mind, what you eat during the months prior to your big race is equally as important. The Montana-made triathlete, who claims the fastest Ironman time recorded on U.S. soil and holds five triathlon course records, is of the mind that a proper diet is an essential part of any marathon training program. What you eat can have a major influence on your race results, so whether you’re trying to improve your race times or just trying to avoid “hitting the wall” during the race, here are five of Linsey’s most important nutrition tips to follow when training for a race—whether a 10k or a marathon.
1. Know what works best for you: Linsey is a big believer in practicing for the way you want to eat during your competition. During your training you can afford to make mistakes and learn what you should and shouldn’t be eating. However, on race day you want to be habitual in how you’re going to eat. Particularly in an endurance event like a marathon or triathlon, you should have a nutrition plan set out beforehand.
2. Think carbs: In an endurance race you’ll end up tapping into all of your fuel reserves. Since carbohydrates feed the muscles, you’ll need to be thinking about carbs the moment you sign up for that long-distance race. Most athletes need 55-65 percent of their calories to come from carbohydrates, and should be consumed the night (or day) before a race, long run or hard workout. You should be getting carb intake from “high-quality” whole grains, such as KAMUT® Brand khorasan wheat, as it offers immediate energy while also providing lipids to store additional fuel.
3. Keep hydration top-of-mind: Gulp 6 to 8 ounces of H2O or other fluids every 15 minutes to stay hydrated. If you’re running for over an hour, your body may require more than just water. Sports drinks can give you the electrolytes, fluids and sugar-filled carbs you need to make it through a long-distance endurance race. Linsey also suggests energy gels, as they can also provide a similar surge and settle your mental fatigue.
4. Plan your race-day breakfast ahead of time: If you’re heading out for an hour or more, you need some fuel at least 30 minutes before you run—this means skipping breakfast isn’t an option. Put thought into what you’re eating and avoid fat, fiber, or anything else that is known to cause stomach discomfort. Make sure you experiment with different types of foods during your training so you don’t surprise yourself on race day. If running longer, eat a combo of protein and carbs, like toast with peanut butter and banana (200 to 300 calories).
5. Make recovery nutrition a priority: While most runners aren’t usually hungry right after a race or a long training day, it is important to get calories in within 30 minutes of finishing an endurance activity, when your muscles replace their power supply fastest. Linsey suggests the right combination of carbs (75 to 80 percent) and protein (20 to 25 percent). Chocolate milk is a great recovery drink because it has a quintessential ratio of carbs to protein and it’s easy to drink. Four or five hours after a race, Linsey suggests eating a well-balanced meal, as well as a celebratory treat.
Photo Credit to: linseycorbin.com