When it comes to marathon prep, it’s not just the training plan that counts – you also need to fuel your body to go the distance. If you’re running for more than an hour, carbs, fluid and electrolytes need to be topped up – without them you’ll fatigue faster and risk dehydration.
During long runs, the body uses both fat and carbohydrate for fuel. But unlike fat (which is in plentiful supply, even if you’re slim!), our bodies can only store carbohydrate in small amounts, which is drained quickly during long or high intensity runs. Once you’ve emptied the tank, fatigue sets in, and you’ll be forced to slow down – or worse, hit the wall, an experience best avoided!
You can stop this from happening by re-fueling during your run. Consuming 30-60 grams of carbohydrate an hour will put the brakes on fatigue and keep you going for longer. Carbs from sports foods (i.e. gels/drinks) or normal foods (e.g. banana, raisins) are equally effective – the key is to find what works for you. Both have pros and cons – normal foods are cheaper, but harder to eat, digest and carry during a run. Sports products cost more, but are convenient, and if you choose a sports drink, you’ll replace fluid and minerals (like sodium and potassium), at the same time, making things easier.
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