Marathon Training Nutrition Mistakes: Tip #19

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” (B. Reese)
Small marathon training nutrition mistakes, like small mosquitoes, can make a big impact on your running performance.

Check out these common mistakes made by marathoners:

1. Diluting Gatorade or any sports drink defeats the purpose of the drink. Sports drinks are designed with a precise carbohydrate to water ratio for the best absorption. Let the formula work as planned.

2. Taking a gel pack with Gatorade is too much carbohydrate at once, which can interfere with proper absorption (and leave you with a globby feeling in your stomach). Take your gel with water as directed on the package.

3. Drinking as much coffee/caffeine as you did before training can set you up for a jittery run and it can promote the “runs”. Caffeine can also interfere with normal sleep patterns, and you need all the solid rest you can get. There have been studies supporting caffeine for performance, but you need to find the right balance for yourself. Do this in training, not marathon day.

4. Drinking too much fruit juice can provide too much carbohydrate in the form of fructose. Carbs are great and fruit juice is nutritious, but the carb to water ratio in fruit juice interferes with absorption leading to stomach upset in some runners. Overall, fruit juice is a great way to get calories in if you need them, but don’t use fruit juice as your sports drink. Also, fruit juice is missing the fiber, so get more of your fruit servings as whole fruits.

5. Neglecting weight loss after a long run is a common marathon training nutrition mistake. Dehydration is not only dangerous, but these drops in weight will impact your performance. Weigh yourself before and after the long runs since the balance of weight change is directly tied into hydration.

6. Skimping on carbohydrates the day before a long run will leave you short on fuel. Maximize your fuel stores by eating a carb-rich diet everyday. Why make that 20 miler harder than it has to be?

7. Skipping your post-run recovery snack will impact healing at the moment and leave you less fueled for the next run or cross-training. Why not make yourself a recovery snack after you stretch and before your ice bath?

8. Choosing only low sodium foods is another common marathon training nutrition mistake. Sweating out electrolytes and not replacing them can impact your fluid balance and increase your risk of cramping. If you have high blood pressure you should talk to your physician about your personal sodium needs. If you don’t have high blood pressure, marathoners can get plenty of sodium by lightly salting their meals and choosing naturally sodium-rich snacks.

9. Trying something new on race day is a disaster waiting to happen. If you haven’t tried it in training, don’t try it on race day. Save all the goodies from the expo to try during the recovery period after the marathon. Better to experience intolerance to a new product on a 5 mile fun run than on marathon day.

10. Doing nothing, including not asking questions about nutrition. Hey, a small adjustment in a food group or in the timing of fuel may make a big impact in training, performance or race day! Don't let small mistakes (mosquitoes) get the best of you!

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