While everyone gets a little stressed and excited about covering all 13.1 or 26.2 miles on race day, there's something far more important than the length or timing of your longest run. It's more important than your choice in shoes.
Any cagey veteran will tell you that it's not the distance on race day that'll do you in. After all, if your day goes totally south you can find a way to make it to the finish line even it if means walking. On race day, your finish is what you eat. Training aside, the fourth discipline of nutrition is what can help you reach your goals. Messing it up can also leave you far short.
A great race is as much a test of what defines you as it is a test of what fuels you — literally. But there's a big difference between having a plan?and executing a plan. Let's get into some details.
Your Basic Marathon Nutrition Plan
The best plan is both simple and proven. Simple as in you can get it, use it, carry it and digest it with relative easy. Proven as in it's the plan you have formulated and actually tested in several of your longer training sessions. In other words, it's probably no different than what you'd do on a regular long run day.
Whatever you choose to eat, there are a few key pointers to keep in mind:
- Less is more. Despite what you might think, you can have too many calories on race day. Remember that it's always easier to add more calories, but not so much fun to "remove" them when running.
- Liquid is best. Whether it's a drink or a drink mix or a gel, liquid calories are far easier for you to consume and process while running under race day stress.
- You must test. I mentioned it above, but it bears repeating — having a plan is good, but having a plan that you've tested in several long runs is way better. Race day nerves alone can make the most bulletproof plan go horribly wrong.
- You are your own worst enemy. Running too hard, running without breaks, and skipping aid stations are all common mistakes that can lead to nutritional complications. Don't make your race any harder than it already is!
You can learn more about the Marathon Nation recommended nutritional strategy by more on your marathon nutrition plan.