In Parts I and II, guest blogger Chandler Tucker, a senior nutrition major at Simmons College, shared her experiences as a novice runner. Here are here final words of advice, worthy of sharing.
After having felt so terrible during my first marathon, I swore that I would never run another one. Yet, as I watched last year from Commonwealth Avenue, I felt painfully jealous as the runners went by. I knew I would be back.
I now realize my hard work actually did get me back to Boston. The sights and sounds of the Boston Marathon finish line were like no other. And then, after crossing the finish line, all of the pain I had felt over the past few hours started to dissipate. I was finally able to relax, with a bit of disappointment but also a big dose of pride.
Pre-marathon, I hadn’t even thought about the impact proper nutrition could have on my training and performance. Now, after having experienced a disappointing first marathon, I have learned how I could have better fueled my body and prepared for this big event. Here are a few more tips.
Tip #1: Carbohydrates
As a sophomore in college, pasta parties with my high school soccer team were the only experiences I had with fueling for a sporting event. The night before a game, the age-old tradition was to consume plates full of white pasta with a few slices of garlic bread. I continued to follow this same plan the night before my long runs and then I’d blame my lethargic performance the next morning on the weather or lack of sleep.
The next time I train for an event, I will be sure to focus the majority of the week’s meals on quality foods, including whole grain carbohydrates, throughout the entire week and not just the night before. Whole grains are a great way to fuel-up and re-fuel your musclesafter every run, so you will be ready for the long weekend run. Oatmeal or cereal with fruit for breakfast, a sandwich at lunch, snacks with fruits and vegetables throughout the day, and brown rice or pasta with dinner create the foundation of a winning sports diet.
Tip #2: Hydration
Proper hydration is essential for normal physiological functioning and must be well maintained, especially in an athlete. When I was training for my first marathon, I was also waitressing on the weekends. This meant I needed to complete my long runs early in the morning. As a result, I would typically wake up an hour beforehand, eat a large breakfast while sipping on coffee or water, then set out for a 10-15 mile run. Afterwards, I headed straight to work, sipping on water throughout the day but paying little attention to the scant amount of urine my body produced. I was dehydrated!
To learn how much fluid loss you will experience on your longer runs, you should weigh yourself before and after a one-hour run. If you lose one pound, that’s 16 ounces of sweat you need to replace. When race day came, I had assumed my 8-ounce water bottle would suffice, because that is what I was used to drinking. I failed to pay attention to how much I actually sweat— or the unusually hot weather—so I could determine exactly how much water I needed. Trust me, starting a workout (and a marathon) well hydrated will make a huge impact on the way you feel!
Tip #3: Sleep.
As I sat in the Athlete’s Village for a few hours before the start of the Marathon, I realized that was the first time I had stopped all week. A wave of exhaustion hit me. Leading up to the marathon I was studying for tests, finishing papers, and trying to clear my schedule to enjoy the weekend festivities. My life had not ceased because I had a marathon in 5 days!
When I would finally make it to bed, I would then start obsessing about anything that could go wrong on race day. The night before the marathon, excitement and nerves easily kept me awake later than usual. I only wish I could have prioritized sleep the weeks leading up to race day. (Wishful thinking.) Not being well-rested for race day seemed to nullify much of the training and hard work I had put in.
With just a few months left in my nutrition studies, I now feel I have a new outlook on the importance of sports nutrition. I am more prepared for the next time I attempt to run 26.2 miles. I hope through this series of blogs I am able to shine some light on common mistakes novice runners make during their first marathon attempt.
Of course, correcting those mistakes is much easier said than done. However I feel that hearing of others errors can help cut back on those you might make yourself. For anyone considering signing up for a marathon, do not let my mistakes scare you away! The moment you hit the finish line, your efforts will all be worth it. You will just have to take my word for that.