Without a doubt, what you eat and drink during the last few days and hours before the Boston Marathon makes a difference. By eating wisely and well, you can enjoy lasting energy without hitting the wall. Here are eight last-minute nutrition tips
for enhancing endurance.
1. Carbo-load, don't fat-load.
Carbohydrate-rich foods include cereals, fruits, juices, breads, rice, plain baked potatoes and pasta with tomato sauce. Lower carbohydrate choices
include donuts, cookies, buttery potatoes, ice cream, cheesy lasagna and pepperoni pizza. These fat-laden foods may taste great and fill your stomach but fat does not get stored as muscle fuel.
2. No last-minute hard training.
By resting your muscles and doing very little exercise this pre-event week, your muscles will have the time they need to store the carbohydrates and become fully saturated with glycogen (carbohydrate). You can only fully carbo-load if you stop exercising hard! You can tell if your muscles are well carbo-loaded if you have gained 2 to 4 pounds pre-event. Your muscles store 3 oz. of water along with each ounce of carbohydrate. (This water will be released during the event and be put to good use.)
3. No last-minute dieting.
You can't fully carbo-load your muscles if you are dieting and restricting your calories. You will have greater stamina and endurance if you are well-fueled, as compared to the dieter who may be a few pounds lighter but has muscles that are sub-optimally carbo-loaded. Remember: you are supposed to gain (water) weight pre-event.
4. Drink extra fluids.
You can tell if you are drinking enough fluids by monitoring your urine. You should be urinating frequently (every two to four hours); the urine should be clear colored and significant in volume. Juices are a good fluid choice because they provide not only water and carbohydrates but also nutritional value. Save the sports drinks for during the event.
5. Eat tried-and-true foods.
If you drastically change your food choices (such as carbo-load by eating several extra bananas), you may end up with intestinal distress
. Simply eat a comfortable portion of the tried-and-true carbohydrates you've enjoyed during training. You need not stuff yourself. If you will be traveling to a faraway event, plan ahead so you can maintain a familiar eating schedule despite a crazy travel schedule.
6. Eat a moderate amount of fiber.
If you stuff yourself with lots of white bread, bagels, crackers, pasta and other foods made with refined white flour, you may end up constipated. Include enough fiber to promote regular bowel movements, but not too much fiber or you'll have the opposite problem. Moderate amounts of whole wheat bread, bran cereal, fruits and vegetables are generally good choices. (If you are concerned about diarrhea, limit your intake of high fiber foods and instead consume more of the refined breads and pastas.)