Training for a marathon requires a considerable amount of dedication and time. Nutrition should be the foundation of training as it fuels your body with the energy it needs. Determining the appropriate number of calories and fulfilling your macronutrient needs is a balancing act. Too many calories can bog you down while too little can cause fatigue.
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Calorie needs are dependent on an individual's gender, age, body composition, training practice and daily activities. Because your exact calorie intake relies on so many factors, you must consult with a registered dietitian to determine your individual calorie needs.
Don't waste your calories; focus on balancing calories from carbohydrates, fat and protein. Carbohydrates provide quick spurts of energy, and fat provides energy during lengthy training. Protein is vital during training to build and repair muscles.
Before, During and After Training
A few hours before training, eat a snack or small meal high in carbohydrates and protein; less than 60 minutes before you begin exercising, focus on carbohydrate items that will provide you with quick fuel, such as power bars, fruit or gels. During and after training, concentrate on staying hydrated, and during prolonged training, drink a sports drink to replace electrolytes and carbohydrates. Afterward, focus on restoring electrolytes and fluids that were lost through sweat, and carbohydrates and protein stores that were depleted during training within a hour after training.