To some, there is nothing more frightening than the very thought of running a marathon. To marathoners – or aspiring marathoners – there is nothing more frightening than a last-minute race-day mistake.
Running a strong, healthy race can be simple; all it takes is a bit of intelligence in the days leading up to the main event. Here, Zeel Nutrition Expert Lauren Antonucci, highlights some common mistakes to avoid before running a marathon—and what to do instead.
Don’t Over-invest in the Idea of Carb-loading
Most marathoners are aware of the concept of carb-loading—the idea that they should increase the number of carbohydrates consumed in the days leading up to the race. Although runners do need to make sure they have an adequate intake of carbs, Lauren generally finds that, if marathoners are not careful, they can end up overdoing it.
So don’t just throw more carbs on top of what you’re already eating; this can lead to bloating and a “heavy” feeling on marathon morning
INSTEAD: Decrease the amount of protein consumed during that final week to make room for extra carbs. You’ll be training less anyway, and your muscles should already be repaired from your last long run, so it’s okay to cut back on protein.
Don’t Try Anything New
Introducing a new ingredient to your GI system can lead to distress and unwanted discomfort the day before or day of the marathon. “The week before the marathon is not the time to try any new recipes or restaurants,” Lauren says. This includes ordering your favorite dish at a new restaurant. Lauren cautions that each kitchen and chef prepares dishes differently and varies their use of spices and herbs.
INSTEAD: Lauren suggests that runners stick to restaurants and meals they know well. If you’re traveling to your race, order what you think is safest on the menu. The less complicated, the better. And of course, don’t be afraid to ask your waiter questions.
As a fierce competitor herself, Lauren understands the fear that over-hydrating could force a runner to stop and pee during the race—resulting in the loss of precious time. But, as Lauren assures us, “The importance of starting and finishing the race while hydrated trumps the time that it might cost you to stop to pee once or twice.”
INSTEAD: Be sure to drink 24 oz. of water in the morning. New York start times are later than most races, Lauren notes, so everyone should be sure to drink plenty of water early on. Drink another 8–12 oz. as you get close to the race start.
Don’t Skimp on the TLC!
To say marathon running is taxing on your musculoskeletal system is an understatement, and recovering takes more than just stopping and catching your breath. The best way to optimize your recovery is to include strategic massage in your training and recovery.
Swedish massage or sports massage every 2 to 4 weeks will help keep your muscles limber and any potential injuries in check at all points in the training cycle. This should be a basic component of any runner’s training regimen, for both prevention and recovery. Book yours now.
Sufficient rest and a regular sleep schedule are imperative for race performance and recovery, too, so if you struggle to fall or stay asleep, a sleep massage will ensure your body is primed for rest, relaxation, and recovery when you need it the most. Need help with your zzz’s? Start here.
After a race, you should give your body at least 48 hours to recover from the immediate muscle trauma. But you’ll recover faster and reduce your risk of injury by booking a deep tissue massage once you’re no longer sore.