You know you have to eat and drink during a marathon. How do you arrange all that if your name is not Kipchoge? What should you take and how much? Here are some tips for eating and drinking during the marathon.
Kipchoge has it easy during a marathon. Every five kilometers he receives a precisely measured amount of fluids and carbohydrates. And no, he doesn’t have to pour it down his throat with some kind of circus act running from a cardboard cup. Neat, handy water bottles are ready for the toppers. And then we, well-meaning recreationists, how do we work through the marathon sufficiently hydrated and supplied with enough carbohydrates? Here are some handles and tips.
‘Put people aside who can hand you a bottle’, I recently heard a running trainer give as a tip. And yes, that would be ideal, of course, but how are you going to fix that in Berlin or New York? Even during a marathon close to home, it is quite a task to have several people or even one along the course. And then exactly in the places where you want your gel or bottle! No, for most people that really has to be solved differently. We don’t have a perfect solution for you, but we can of course tell you what works best for us.
How much should you drink during a marathon and how do you do it?
Man, how I’ve been worrying about whether I could get that recommended 400 to 800 ml of fluid per hour. How much is actually in such a cup and how much of it ends up in my system if I first have to conquer a position on the road between dozens of other thirsty runners where I can grab a cup at all, then take it out of the way at about 14 kilometers per hour. grab hands from a volunteer and then bring it to my mouth at that rate without spilling and drink it? Pretty tricky, even if you’ve practiced it a few times.
Until I heard a very reassuring tip from German Silva, the Mexican who won the New York Marathon twice (1994 and 1995). If you get a few sips at each booze station, you’re good to go. Wow. With that approach I went into my next marathons. It worked great. Mainly because it took the pressure off of worrying about drinking enough. And as it turned out, at those first, busy drinking stations I was satisfied with those few sips at a time. Later in the race when it became a bit quieter at the posts I could sometimes snatch a second cup and it went fine. No stress, no water bag in a trail vest on your back and apparently sufficient fluid intake.
Is it hot or do you naturally sweat like an otter; then just slow down at the posts to take the time to drink. The time you lose doing that doesn’t make up for getting parked because you’re dehydrated. That also works!
Carbohydrates – eating during the marathon
It starts with stacking carbohydrates in advance. In all those pieces about eating and drinking around and during the marathon (and here’s another one…) you read about carbohydrate stacking. Runners post photos of large plates of pasta and stacks of pancakes on their social media. While most people don’t actually know exactly how many grams of carbohydrates per kilo of body weight they should eat or how much glycogen you can store in your system. If you want to stack, I would first check that out, otherwise you will eat yourself full and you will only be a kilo or even more heavier at the start and therefore a few minutes slower.
But you know, it is no longer necessary with today’s sports nutrition. Of course, make sure you always eat healthy and enough and it certainly can’t hurt to eat a nice carbohydrate-rich meal in the last days before your marathon, but that heavy stacking is really no longer necessary. In the evening on the day before the marathon, take a bottle of sports drink an hour and a half before you go to sleep – we swear by Maurten sports nutrition and take another one the morning of your race. With the gels that you eat during your effort, you have a carbohydrate supply with which you can reach the finish line. Here at the editorial office, we ran our best marathons that way.
How many gels?
A gel every half hour has proven to be a good strategy for us, but suppose you take four and a half hours to complete the marathon, then you would have to take 8 (!) gels. Then you will most likely be sick at the end. If you run the marathon for more than three and a half hours (applies to the vast majority of runners), take a gel every 7 or even 8 kilometres, for example. Which brand of gel works well for you deserves thorough research in your preparation. Try that out during your long runs!
Incidentally, Maurten has a nutrition plan (fuel plan) for the marathon on his website. You can also take some inspiration from that.
Hydration belt marathon
You can’t fit five or six gels in the average running shorts. Here in the editors was therefore – and some still are – sworn by the FlipBelt. This is a band of elastic fabric that you wear around your waist and in which you can take everything with you while running. For example, a telephone, keys or cards, but the FlipBelt also works excellently as a means of transporting gels. Easily go in about six or seven.
If you don’t like that FlipBelt, there are runners who find such a belt around their abdomen too hot and sweaty or they judge it too heavy with a bunch of gels in it, then you should – our editor-in-chief made that switch – your marathon can walk in half tights with those incredibly practical pockets on the sides. You also put six gels in it divided over two sides. Super handy!
Are you stuck? Ask family, friends and acquaintances for tips or ask your questions below; don’t let stress about how you fuel yourself spoil your anticipation.