Q. I am new to running and am training for my first half-marathon. Is there a difference between fueling for a half-marathon vs. a full 26.2-mile marathon?
A. One difference relates to burning about 1,300 calories (half-marathon) vs. 2,600 calories (full marathon). The marathoner also has an easier chance of becoming dehydrated, might need more sodium, and perhaps wants a caffeine-boost along the way.
Before either the half or the full marathon, you will want to eat wisely. The calories in your pre-event meal will last for about 60 to 90 minutes.
If you plan to finish the half-marathon in about two hours, you will only need to consume about 100-200 calories during the event to main normal blood glucose levels and energy. (This assumes you have eaten a 500- to 600-calorie breakfast (bagel + peanut butter + latte) and have had an adequate dinner the night before.)
When you become a marathoner, however, you will need to stay energized for an additional 2 to 4 hours for the lst 13.1 miles of the marathon. You will want to target about consuming about 200 to 300 calories per hour after the first 1 to 1.5 hours. You will needs to figure out a fueling plan that will provide easily digested calories (gels, gummy candy, dates, energy bars, chomps, animal crackers, etc.) without getting “sugared out” (too much sugary sports drink, too manysweet gels — to the point of nausea). You will also have to drink enough water or sports drink to prevent dehydration.
For more information, please refer to my Food Guide for New Runners: Getting It Right From the Start.