A guide to going under 3 hours
You can read a lot of varying opinions about nutrition and how you should eat during training and also in the lead up to the race. I found a commonsense, strict but not too strict, approach worked quite well and wasn't too hard to follow. Remember if it's too hard to follow, you're not going to follow it!
Simple is good because it means you can still follow it even during the hard times i.e. you've been working long hours at work, and don't want to have to spend extra effort preparing special food.
Make sure you've always got a bottle of water with you at all times, at work and at home. Drinking water regularly will ensure that you're well hydrated for your training runs, which can make a big difference. There's nothing worse then going for an early morning run after not drinking enough the previous day and evening.
When you wake up and feel dehydrated, it's already too late to do anything useful about it. Plus, drinking litres of water just before a run isn't the best idea. I found that with good hydration, I could run quite long distances without feeling thirsty at any stage (although I still drank throughout the run to maintain the level).
The saying "if you feel thirsty you're probably already dehydrated" is quite true in many situations. Make a habit of drinking regularly and training will be that extra bit easier.
One thing to be careful of when drinking water regularly is to avoid flushing your system completely. If you start feeling dizzy and lightheaded when you get out of a chair suddenly, you may be flushing all the sugar and salt from your food out of your system. I started hydrating at the same time as I removed a lot of salt from my diet, and I actually had to start adding salt to my food to get a reasonable balance.
Try to eat sensibly and regularly during the week. Sugar rich foods before a run may have you temporarily feeling full of energy, but you'll 'crash' halfway through the run, which feels truly horrible (although it may prepare you for the feeling of hitting the wall at the 30 km mark in the marathon :) ).
I allowed myself one major splurge during the week, usually the dinner after my long run. I'd usually have something like Hungry Jacks (Burger King). Be warned though, some people can't stomach much after their long run and feel sick if they have anything too rich.
It's quite common for people who exercise before work in the mornings to skip breakfast and have it afterwards (or not at all). My training partners and I found this was generally a pretty bad idea - you started to 'bonk' halfway through the run.
A small, light meal 30 minutes to an hour before your morning training run can start your body humming nicely. Food items like dry toast or a banana can be great. Don't have too much dairy product ,and avoid protein.
If you eat lunch at 12 or 1 and then do your training run after work at 5 or 6, it's a good idea to have a healthy snack an hour or so before your run. Once again, foods like bananas or toast are great. Some people like muesli bars as well.
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Copyright 2007-2010 Michael Milford