With the New York City Marathon just around the corner, runners are constantly stopping by asking me what the perfect nutrition recipe is come race day. I always provide our customers with my honest opinion on what works for me and then I make suggestions based on nutrition I have actually tried. By the time our conversation is done my last point is always TRY EVERYTHING at least once! There isn’t one thing that will work for everyone because everyone’s stomach may react differently to gels or jelly beans or shot bloks.
At the Ridgewood Running Company we have everything from Clif to PowerBar to GU to Jelly Belly to Stinger. In my past experience certain gels hasn’t settled well with me during the marathon and unfortunately I didn’t listen to my own advice by trying out different nutrition before race day. I suffered the consequences while on the course and will never do that again.
My personal pre-run routine for anything that will be up to one hour on the road is a Stinger Vanilla Waffle 15 minutes before go time. Honey Stinger Waffle’s have become my go to pre-run and pre-race nutrition. They waffles sit well with me whether I’m doing a speed workout or just cruising the town on a recovery run. In addition, the other benefit of the waffle is it tastes freakin’ amazing! Anything longer than an hour I will carry Clif Shot Bloks with me. My go to flavor is black cherry (they have a shot of caffeine per serving) but strawberry is a close second. Ideally that’s the combo you are looking for: something that just feels right and taste great.
There are so many options which is why I will always recommend beginners try a little bit of everything. Pretend like you are in chemistry class experimenting, trying to figure out what mix of chemicals will work without blowing up the entire lab (in this case, your stomach). Things to keep in mind for your nutrition is texture, taste and ease of use. Again, there are gels, gummies, liquid shots and even electrolyte drinks such as Nuun.
The key to nutrition on a long run is to take in between 100-200 calories every 45 minutes or so. If you feel depleted while running you waited to long to take your nutrition so practice taking in some calories 10 minutes sooner the next time you go for that run.
When preparing for a race keep in mind they may not have the nutrition you prefer and have practiced with which is why it’s always important to practice carrying things with you while you are training. Even if they do have your nutrition and you favorite flavor is chocolate, the race may only offer citrus and those are two completely different flavors!
Key Nutrition Tips for the Marathon:
1. Practice your nutrition plan during your long runs.
2. Consider taste texture and ease of use (you don’t want to run with a package you find difficult to open or store in a pocket).
3. Take in 100-200 calories for every 45 minutes of activity.
4. DON’T try something new on race day. It may have worked once but that doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee!
5. Don’t let others influence your decisions. Maybe Joe doesn’t like racing with a bottle belt but if you are used to it and that’s what you use to hydrate then stick with it. Running buddies are just offering suggestions but you have to be comfortable with your decisions.
If you have any more questions of nutrition don’t hesitate to stop by the store and ask! Most of us have tried everything we sell so we can offer you advice passed on our own personal experiences. Good luck this marathon season everyone.