It’s the Dawn of the Marathon

As the hot summer days should be nearing to their end (but it’s Malta, so who are we kidding right?), you will find that people are more keen on mustering enough courage to take up running. While some are new to the sport, others have been doing it for months, in preparation of the marathon they are about to run in a few weeks time. September marks the opening of the season and enthusiasts from all around the country are in the last few days of preparation for marathons and half-marathons taking place throughout the season.

Running a marathon is no easy feat; one does not simply wake up one day and decide that they will be running the next half marathon taking place in a week. A full marathon requires at least 17 weeks of preparation and needs to be accompanied by a strict diet and workout regimen to slowly introduce new strains that your body will learn to handle gradually.

Many people will suggest that the optimal time to go out for a jog is early in the morning and there is a very good reason why. Stomach problems can really take their toll on your running performance, so starting your day off with a jog means that you will be lighter and be able to run for longer.

A good jogging routine needs to go hand in hand with an equally beneficial food schedule. The idea is to establish a routine that works for you and carry that out thoroughly, from the first day of training to the day of the marathon.

Stay Away from:

High Fibre and Whole Grain Food: they can cause gastrointestinal distress and other digestive related discomfort during running if consumed in the morning of … not very ideal is it?

Fatty Foods: they take longer to digest, so consuming such foods 2-3 hours before a run will not give your body enough time to convert it to energy in time.

Caffeine: Although it may sound like a good idea to chug a cup of coffee or a redbull right before you run a marathon, a body which is not used to the diuretics [substances that make you go to the little girl’s room] found in such products will induce bowel movements and can cause stomach issues.

Go for:

Refined Carbohydrates: the ingredients are already stripped to their simplest form, which means that your body does not have to struggle to digest them.

Blended and Juiced Food: Given that the cell walls are already broken up prior to digestion, the nutrients are released quickly, freeing up energy for later.

Bananas: There is a reason that for every race, marathon or fun run you attend, you will always find a table filled with heaps of bananas to nourish the participants after. Each banana has 31g of carbohydrates and 3.5g of fibre, making them the preferred source of natural fuel during exercise. Being rich in potassium and magnesium makes it ideal as these are nutrient that runners lose tons of whilst sweating, therefore it should be included before, after, and if necessary during the run. The maintenance of bones is also dependent on magnesium and running can be quite a strenuous process on your bones, so eat up.

Eating a banana at least an hour before is the perfect snack as it is a source of slow releasing energy, meaning that at times, it is just as effective as energy drinks. Bananas’ unique source of Vitamin B6 also allows the transportation of oxygen to body cells and keeps the immune system at its best.

Most of all, always remember to keep yourself hydrated. Drink small sips of water before, during and after your training sessions and make sure that you drink a minimum of two litres of water per day. Dehydration will not only result in having to run at a slower pace, hence decreasing performance, but it will also cause confusion, disorientation and worst of all, heat stroke.

© 2016 – VIDA Magazine – Thea Formosa