Adequate carbohydrate consumption

We have reached the final stages in our build-up to the February 24 races and with only two weeks to go it is now imperative to get plenty of rest and to eat and drink sufficiently.

It is interesting to note that a study performed on 250 London Marathon runners indicated that only a small number of athletes consumed enough carbohydrates before the race, and those who did ran 13 per cent faster.

In fact, during her tapering stages, renowned long distance runner Paula Radcliffe is reported to consume approximately 3,000 calories and sleeps for 12 hours daily.

Okay, most cannot afford to sleep that much but eating the right combination of carbohydrates and fats help to combat fatigue during the latter stage of the race. It ensures you have enough energy to run longer but not faster, and to avoid that cruel, undesired phase called ‘hitting the wall’.

Therefore, starting three days before the event, 70 per cent of your calories should come from carbohydrates.

As we all know, bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal and grains, and fruit and vegetables are the best choices. However, even sweets like jelly babies are permitted as this will all turn into muscle glycogen.

Eating a reasonable amount of dietary fat like nuts and olive oil is also beneficial as this can be used as back-up energy source when the body runs out of carbohydrate fuel.

Due to heavy sweat loss, another important factor to note is salt. Unless you suffer from high blood pressure, snacking on salted potato crisps or popcorn will help you keep sodium levels up.

Eat regularly, that is every two to three hours.

Needless to say, that drinking carbohydrates like juices, sports drinks and gels is another crucial aspect in this art.

There are various sports drinks on the market but a low cost method is the powdered sports drinks which are designed to be dissolved in water.

On race day, wake up extra early and eat a light breakfast like toast and jam, or oatmeal and banana, ensuring you consume at least 100 grams of carbohydrates.

It is not feasible to weigh yourself at this stage and do not panic if you put on an extra kilo or two of body weight.

This means you have carbo-loaded well for the race.

Starting exercise in a well-hydrated state is important for overall performance.

If athletes make sure they consume fluids regularly throughout the day, this can make a real difference.

What are the benefits of isotonic drinks?

Vigorous exercise helps promote heart health, weight loss and overall fitness, but it can also make you sweat one to three quarts of fluid during intense workouts.

Isotonic drinks

Although sweating is your body’s way to help keep its core temperature cool, it can lead to the loss of important minerals, dehydration and heat stroke.

Isotonic drinks replace those nutrients and fluids quickly, helping to prevent exercise-related injuries and illness.

Sports drinks are classified in three ways: isotonic, hypotonic and hypertonic, depending upon the amount of carbohydrates they contain.

Isotonic fluids have six to eight per cent carbohydrates, including glucose – your body’s preferred energy source for exercise.

Isotonic drinks have an osmolality of 280 to 330 mOsm/ kg; a measure of the number particles of carbohydrates, electrolytes, sweeteners and preservatives in a fluid.

The osmolality rating of isotonic drinks best approximates that of your body’s natural fluid balance, which is one reason why these drinks are so popular among runners and other endurance athletes.

The hydration calculator available on may be used as a guide to measure how much isotonic drinks the body needs to absorb to replenish the lost fluids after various sports.

The hydration calculator is based on scientific studies and provides an estimate of fluid requirements according to a sport activity.

Fluid loss varies from person to person and the hydration calculator should be used only as a guide.

Enjoy your running.


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