This past weekend, I ran the Scotiabank Waterfront Toronto Marathon. Despite being a fantastic experience, I failed to hit my time goal. While I may not have had my ideal performance, I don’t think this was related to nutrition. In fact, I feel that nutrition was one part of the race that went really well. Here are my top tips from this past weekend:
- Increase carbohydrates not calories:
Carbohydrate loading in the days leading up to an endurance event has been shown to improve performance. Many runners make the mistake of overeating rather than increasing their carbohydrate intake in the days leading up to an event. I have written many blogs about this in the past. Check them out here for more information. I definitely nailed my carbohydrate loading plan. However, I never want to see another bagel or banana again.
- Eat only familiar foods
Pre-race is not a good time to experiment with food that you have never eaten before, especially if you have a sensitive gut like me. As much as I love trying new cuisine, I resisted the temptation and stuck to a familiar and safe flatbread pizza when at a restaurant the night before. Don’t try anything new in the days leading up to the race. It isn’t worth the risk, no matter how delicious it may taste.
- Have an in-race nutrition plan
For myself, I consumed a gel every 5 km with nuun. I did this starting at the 5km mark. Most runners make the mistake of not consuming enough carbohydrates, or waiting until they bonk to fuel. If you want to run your best, start fueling early, well before hitting the wall.
- But also have a back up-plan
I missed my water bottles at the aid stations at the 5 km and 20 km marks due to my poor coordination skills. My gels were attached to the bottles, so this meant that I also missed my important fuel. Thankfully, I had planned for this and was carrying a couple of extra gels with me that I could take instead.
- Indulge post-race!
Knowing that post-race I was going to eat whatever my heart desired, made it easier to stick to my nutrition plan pre-race. My post-race indulgence: chicken nuggets and French fries from McDonalds.
With all the training and hard work that you put into marathon training, don’t let a silly nutrition mistake sabotage your race day. Learn from my personal marathon experience, so that you can perform your best on race day!