How to fuel your half marathon training

February 19, 2015 // Andrew


With the Vitality Bath Half Marathon just around the corner, you’ll probably have changed your focus to strengthening, injury prevention and stamina training and this means you could overlook another important aspect of training; nutrition.

Renee McGregor is a Bath based sport nutrition expert with over 13 years experience in the field. She’s worked with many athletes over the years and often takes part in long distance running events so she knows just how important effective nutrition during training is for those important races.

In order to fuel your final days training effectively, Renee suggests that you should:

1) Be careful with carbs: Amongst the running community there is a misconception that whilst training for a long run, the key is to load up on carbohydrates. However, for particular runs, this is not effective and can cause you to put on weight. If you are going for a run that is less than 60 minutes long and is at an easy pace, you don’t have to eat at all before the run, because your body will fuel you using its energy stores.   The times to a eat a carbohydrate based meal are 24 hours before a run that will be longer than 60 minutes, or when you’re planning to do some high-intensity interval work.

2) Get your quantities right
: For carbohydrates a basic figure is to use a fist size portion of carbohydrates at mealtimes specifically before a long run or a high intensity session. There is never a need to eat mountains of pasta! If you are going for a run longer than 60 minutes, rather than cramming all of your carbohydrates into a meal the night before, incorporate small amount of high carbohydrate food into your meals throughout the day 24 hours prior to the run. Evidence has suggested that this is a much more efficient way of creating energy that will fuel you for your long run.

3) Recovery: The recovery meal or snack is one of the most important training meals, as it helps to prepare your body for your next training session. How far away your next training session is will dictate what you recover with. For example, if your next training session is 24 hours away then your recovery should be consumed within 2 hours, and should be a combination of both carbohydrate and lean protein.
However if your next session is 12 hours away or less, it is essential to start the recovery process as quickly as possible to enable your muscles and glycogen stores to regenerate as quickly as possible. The easiest way is to take on a recovery drink such as flavoured milk within 20-30 minutes of finishing your first session. This should then be followed up by a light meal such as vegetable omelette and toast.

4) Essential fuel: Lean protein, natural sugars, wholegrains, oily fish and vitamin rich vegetables are all things that a runner should include in their diet because all will keep you well balanced, fuelled in your training and will assist your body in the recovery process.

5) Be creative: Experiment with food. Once you have the foundations, meals don’t have to be boring, you just have to ensure that you plan your meals around your training.
For more nutrition advice from Renee please go to her website on www.eatwellfeelfab.co.uk.

Pre training meal ideas

Depending on the time of day that you’re planning on going for a run, here are a few meal ideas that will fuel you ready to take on your challenge.

Breakfast

  • Wholegrain bagel with peanut butter and banana
  • 50-60g dry weight porridge oats or other wholegrain cereal with fruit and milk
  • Soaked oat smoothie with fruit of your choice and coconut water

Lunch

  • Baked sweet potato with tuna salad
  • Couscous salad with roasted vegetables and feta cheese
  • Vegetable soup with a small brown roll

Dinner

  • Chicken or smoked Tofu stir fry with noodles
  • Baked salmon with lemon and garlic, served with rice and vegetables


Post –Training snacks

  • Vanilla milk shake with fresh fruit
  • Greek yoghurt with granola and mixed berries
  • Salmon and Chive bagel

Remember; in the final countdown to the Vitality Bath Half Marathon don’t overdo the training as you want to be fit for race day. For more information on how to train in the final two weeks, please see our ‘The countdown begins – just two weeks to go to the Vitality Bath Half’ blog post.

See you there!