Sports activities Diet Errors That Damage My Marathon Coaching

I bear in mind the precise second I actually understood the time period “hitting the wall.” I used to be at mile 20 of the New York Metropolis Marathon and taking yet one more step felt not possible. I had skilled for over 4 months, so I used to be bodily and mentally ready. However one thing failed me: my diet. It’s ironic as a result of I’m a registered dietitian, and I studied sports activities diet in graduate faculty. However studying about fueling for sport and placing it into follow are two various things.

One thing that was emphasised in my education is that sports activities diet is totally different than common diet. The ideas of sports activities diet don’t all the time coincide with the rules for wholesome consuming. For instance, sports activities drinks are vilified as sugar-sweetened drinks that trigger weight acquire, however do you know they have been truly formulated with a sure share of carbohydrates and electrolytes to maintain athletes fueled and hydrated? Sports activities drinks aren’t obligatory for everybody and realizing when and easy methods to embrace them in a health routine is simply one of many nuances of sports activities diet.

Natalie Rizzo operating the New York Metropolis half marathon in 2019. (Natalie Rizzo)

I knew these ideas throughout my marathon coaching in 2016, however I additionally fell sufferer to some widespread fueling errors. Since then, I’ve corrected my errors and have run many profitable races. I’ve additionally labored with tons of of individuals (and wrote a e-book on sports activities diet) to assist as many athletes as potential keep away from these widespread blunders.

I didn’t plan out my pre-workout gasoline

An analogy that’s usually made within the sports activities diet world is that the physique is sort of a automotive and meals is the gasoline that makes it transfer. In different phrases, vitality ranges are instantly correlated to the quantity of meals you set in your system. Carbohydrates are the physique’s most important gasoline supply for train. The physique makes use of two types of carbs for vitality: dietary carbs and carbs saved within the muscle and liver (referred to as glycogen).

Dietary carbs are damaged down inside a number of hours of consuming, whereas protein and fats want longer to be digested. When consuming inside 60 minutes of a exercise, a carb-rich snack is your best option of gasoline. However in case you have 2-3 hours till your exercise, a well-balanced meal with carbs, protein and a bit little bit of fats works nicely. That’s why I all the time say “what you eat is dependent upon if you eat.”

Throughout my marathon coaching, I needed to be at work very early within the morning, so I ran within the afternoon or night. I relied on what I ate for lunch or mid-afternoon snack to energy me by my run. Typically I hadn’t eaten in hours, and I began my run with little or no “fuel within the tank.” Different instances I ate meals that have been technically wholesome, however not nice for gasoline, like an avocado or a salad with tons of fiber (extra on that later), and my abdomen felt unsettled throughout your entire run.

I might’ve averted all these fueling woes by correctly planning a pre-workout snack 1-2 hours earlier than a run. Meals like bananas, dates, granola or a handful of raisins are easy carb-rich snacks which are rapidly digested and supply vitality for a exercise.

A combination of protein and carbohydrates, like blueberry trail mix and yogurt, makes a smart post-workout snack. (Natalie Rizzo)

A mixture of protein and carbohydrates, like blueberry path combine and yogurt, makes a sensible post-workout snack. (Natalie Rizzo)

I ignored restoration diet

Wanting again, this was the largest flaw in my fueling. I had by no means run the lengthy distances required with marathon coaching, so I didn’t know what to anticipate. After my lengthy coaching runs, I truly wasn’t hungry. As a matter of reality, my abdomen felt a bit queasy.

Consider it or not, this occurs to many athletes. After an intense exercise, the physique suppresses the manufacturing of a hormone referred to as ghrelin, in any other case often known as the “starvation hormone.” The result’s an absence of starvation after vigorous exercise. However that doesn’t imply you shouldn’t eat something.

Restoration diet is essential for a number of causes: It restores glycogen (the physique’s type of saved carbs), aids in muscle restore and helps management starvation. Within the first 1-2 hours after train, the physique begins taking in meals to facilitate muscle protein synthesis, and this restoration lasts for twenty-four hours.

Neglecting restoration diet often leads to extreme fatigue and starvation. That is what occurred to me. Moderately than consuming inside 1-2 hours after my run, I waited till my abdomen felt regular and I used to be hungry sufficient to eat. However as a substitute of feeling hungry, I used to be ravenous. My abdomen was a bottomless pit and I ended up overeating. I used to be additionally drained on most of my coaching runs, however I figured this was regular throughout marathon coaching. I now understand that the fatigue was most likely an indication of poor restoration diet.

Stopping that is easy: Eat some carbs and protein within the hour after a exercise. In case your abdomen feels unusual, go for a restoration beverage like chocolate milk or a plant-based protein shake. Having one thing small will make an enormous distinction later.

I watered down my sports activities drink

Sports activities drinks are a useful a part of some coaching plans. After 45-60 minutes of endurance exercise, the physique wants to absorb fast carbs to take care of vitality ranges. Sports activities drinks present these digestible carbs, they usually substitute fluid and electrolytes misplaced in sweat. Plus, most sports activities drinks are isotonic, which means they’ve related glucose and sodium ranges to the physique, so they can be taken up rapidly into the bloodstream.

I’m not an enormous fan of the style of sports activities drinks. After I was coaching, I believed that slicing a sports activities drink with water can be simply as efficient in conserving me hydrated. However science reveals {that a} 6–8% carbohydrate focus is good as a result of it helps the physique take up the fluids extra quickly. By watering down my sports activities drink, I used to be tanking my vitality ranges and possibly even dehydrating myself additional.

I ate fiber on the fallacious time

Don’t get me fallacious, fiber is a useful a part of the weight-reduction plan and most People don’t eat sufficient of it each day. However consuming high-fiber meals on the fallacious time can wreak havoc in your abdomen throughout coaching. As an illustration, consuming beans for lunch earlier than a night exercise or cruciferous veggies the evening earlier than an intense morning exercise could trigger the digestive system to maneuver alongside quicker than you need it to throughout train.

The fixed movement of endurance exercise jostles your abdomen and sends meals by your digestive tract faster than regular. Different elements, like hormones or dehydration, additionally transfer meals by the digestive tract throughout train. Couple these regular physiological elements with high-fiber meals, and also you’ve received a recipe for cramps, bloating and abdomen ache throughout train.

That’s to not say you’ll be able to’t eat fibrous meals whereas coaching, nevertheless it’s most likely safer to incorporate them in your post-workout meals. Everybody reacts otherwise to varied meals, so all of it comes all the way down to trial and error along with your fueling routine. Attempt sure meals to see how your abdomen reacts to them.

My takeaway

As a dietitian, it’s embarrassing to confess a few of these errors, particularly since I knew higher. In any case, I’m educated on this subject and I’m consistently studying science to remain updated on the most recent pointers. But it surely reveals that each single athlete (even probably the most knowledgeable ones!) makes errors of their fueling and coaching plans, and that’s okay. It’s about listening to your physique, recognizing when one thing isn’t working, and adjusting your routine accordingly. I’m truly glad I made these errors in order that I might study and develop as a practitioner — and hopefully assist others to keep away from these widespread pitfalls.

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