Originally Posted November 18 2020 (https://compasshealthperfo.wixsite.com/mysite/post/marathon-week-nutritional-gameplan)
As many of you know I have been training for the San Antonio marathon which was suppose to take place December 5th. However, with Covid-19 cases spiking across the country, the race was canceled. Although I was disappointed since I was ecstatic to experience warm weather in December, San Antonio for the first time and the overwhelming positive vibes that comes with the running community. I figure that I am 99% through my marathon training; I have decided to run my own marathon this Sunday, November 22. In the week leading up to my marathon, my training has been tapered down, and my focus on nutrition has peaked. Optimized nutrition is not only required on race day, but also during the entire week leading up. In this article I will lay out my nutritional gameplan throughout the entire preparation process.
Glycogen:The Diesel Fuel
Skeletal muscles use carbohydrates as the main source during high intensity exercise. Dietary carbohydrate can either be used for energy production or can also be converted into glycogen where it is stored in muscles and the liver. During exercise, glycogen is the primary source of energy, with increased reliance on glycogen as intensity increases. The issue with glycogen is that its stores are significantly more limited than fat stores. Thus typically glycogen stores deplete around 90 minutes into vigorous exercise; when glycogen stores run out, physical and mental performance significantly decreases. Marathon runner will typically be able to identify this feeling as to when they hit the “wall” To limit this we must properly fill our “glycogen gas tank” in the days leading up to the race and replenish throughout the run.
Carboloading: Filling up the Tank
The goal of carb loading is to maximize glycogen stores to their full potential. To do this we must eat ALOT of carbs. Now there have been many proposed protocols to reachful glycogen potential; all of which have been shown to produce similar results. I am going to be following the classical model which takes place over 6-7 days. The first three days are apart of the “carb depletion stage”. This requires minimal carb intake (less than 100 grams),
accompanied with rather intense exercise. The goal is to deplete the body’s glycogen levels as much as possible. This is followed by a 3 day “carb loading stage”, in the days leading up to competition. In these days, exercise will be minimal and at low intensity. The diet will consist of mainly carb, with the recommendation of 8-12g/kg per day. For myself, who weighs ~180lbs, I will be eating ~810 grams of carbs per day. The theory behind this depletion and loading, is that during the depletion period our body will upregulate its glycogen storage, thus when overload the system with carbs we will be able to create a supercompensation effect.
My diet schedule:
Glycogen Depletion stage: Monday Tuesday Wednesday
- Less than 100g of carbohydrates
- These are mainly coming from bananas to help with potassium levels and vegetables
- Calories mainly coming from proteins and healthy fats
- Lots of chicken, nuts and avocados
Glycogen loading stage: Thursday, Friday, Saturday
- 8-12g/kg of carbohydrates per day
- I will be eating 10g/kg per day. For myself who weight 180lbs, I will be eating 810g of carbohydrates per day
- Moderate protein intake
- My suggestion will be about 1-1.2 g/kg of protein per day. I will be eating around 80-100g per day
Throughout the week you begin to taper down your training leading up to race day. On Monday and Tuesday I am going to do a little more intense exercise with some heavy lifts and
some higher intensity runs. Wednesday,Thursday and Friday I will be focusing on soe short slow runs, mobility and some motor control exercises. Saturday I may do some mobility work, but mainly rest
Sleep is absolutely critical. This marathon is going to test my body to its limits. The goal this week is to get 8 hours of sleep per night. There have been countless studies linking poor sleep with much higher rates of injury.
We all know creatine is great for lifting. However, there is some data suggesting “ creatine-loading along with high-carbohydrate diet experienced faster and higher muscle glycogen rates, starting on day one, and continuing during the six-day glycogen loading periods, compared with subjects following the same high-carbohydrate diet, but without creatine
supplementation.” Although the data isnt robust, adding creatine will not hurt my glycogen storage. There is also a theory it will help with water retention, helping with better hydration. So throughout the week, I will be taking 20g of creatine for the entire week.
Hydration before and during the run is absolutely critical. With that I am going to be drinking a gallon of water every day, along with two gatorades on the final 3 days to help with electrolyte levels.
4 Hours PRE RACE:
I will be eating my pre race meal 4 hours prior to the run. This meal will be high in carbohydrates (I will be eating about 300 grams of carbs), moderate protein (~20grams), with minimal amounts of fats and fiber. This combination of food at 4 hours prior to the race will be optimal for digestion, needed fuel for the race and best for limiting GI distress.
1 Hour PRE RACE:
Here I will be eating a small banana and gatorade. This will help with getting some more carbohydrates in the system and help with hydration. I will also be consuming 400mg of caffeine, as it has been shown to improve aerobic performance.
DURING THE RUN:
- During the run I will be looking to consume 200calories/hour. This will be accomplished via gatorade intake along with honey stinger honey waffles
- I will be consuming 200mL of fluids every 20 mins. This will be mainly coming from gatorade as it will help with electrolyte and carbohydrate intakes.
AFTER THE RUN:
This section will be less science based. My strategy is find myself a cold beer, and eat everything in sight. The beautiful thing about after a run like this, is you can eat anything you want and it will not matter. Your body will be starving nutrients, so give it all the food.
The game plan has been built…. Now it is time to execute!