Marathon nutrition can be a minefield of advice and opinion, however it's a crucial part of your marathon training and racing.
What to eat the night before a marathon?
How many gels to take? When to take them?
So many questions!
We spoke to endurance nutrition expert and Team GB International Ultra Runner, Ant Clarke about the dos and don'ts of marathon nutrition.
Watch the full session here:
Here's our top 10 tips for getting your nutrition right, to achieve the best time possible on the day:
5 KEY MARATHON NUTRITION TIPS
1) Eat a balanced diet with a mixture of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals during your training and before race day.
Each time you push your body in training, you'll be creating microscopic tears in your muscles which will need repairing with protein.
Carbohydrates can be broken down into simple and complex. Simple carbs can be broken down much more quickly into energy however don't last long. Think pasta, bananas and dried fruits. Complex carbohydrates include brown rice, sweet potatoes and beetroot. These help stock up our glycogen supplies (in the liver) - vital for anyone running over 90 minutes e.g. a marathon.
2) Hydrate your body in the week preceding your race by sipping on an electrolyte based drink each evening. This way, your body is fully hydrated when you get to race day. Drinking lots the night before the race, or on the morning will just result in lots of trips to the toilet.
3) Try eating beetroot daily in the 7-10 days prior to your race. Or take a shot of 'Beet It' concentrated beetroot juice each day. Some studies have shown that increased intake of nitrate-rich beetroot juice can boost time to exhaustion by 16% (Bailey et al 2009). Beetroot is high in nitrates which combine with enzymes in your saliva to convert it into nitrates. These nitrates are said to enhance the ability of your blood to carry oxygen... perfect in a marathon!
4) Take a gel just before you start. Don't leave it until 5 or 6 miles to take your first gel - you're potentially already getting into energy depletion. Take a gel 10-15 minutes before the start so that energy begins to be released from the moment you start.
5) Never try nutrition for the first time close to marathon day, or even worse - on the day! Experiment with different types of nutrition. Do gels work best for you or bars. Which type of energy drink feels best. Is there something that gives you a bad stomach?
Find all of these things out BEFORE you get anywhere near marathon day!