Marathons are a challenge, so every advantage you can get is important. Nutrition is one of those advantages that you have direct control over, so it is well worth investing a little time into a nutrition strategy.
Specifically, there are four main areas of marathon nutrition you should think about:
Your everyday nutrition
Nutrition for before, during, and after training
Nutrition for the final few days before the event
Nutrition for the event itself.
In addition, there are some specific considerations for the Wellington Marathon that this article will touch on:
How do you fuel the training that you are likely to do for this event?
How many aid stations are there, and what food and drink will they provide?
How might the likely weather affect this event?
If you want more details on this information and how it relates to the Wellington Marathon, check out our Wellington Marathon Nutrition guide. This is an in depth guide written specifically for this event, and covers everything you need to know for training and participating. Great value at $19.95.
Alternatively, a personalised nutrition package may be a better option for you. If any of the following applies to you, I recommend a personalised plan:
You are aiming for a personal best
You want to lose weight but still fuel yourself optimally
You have specific nutrition requirements (vegan, gluten intolerance)
You want to try LCHF
Just crossing the finish line will be a huge achievement
You want to win (talk to me about sponsorship)
Nutrition and Training for the Wellington Marathon
First of all, training for, and participating in, a marathon is a huge undertaking, so to ensure all that hard work does not get wasted, it makes sense to control the controlables. Nutrition is largely within your control, and following a good nutrition plan from training through till race day can make a huge difference to your overall success.
You will want to follow a nutrition plan which:
Keeps you healthy so you don’t miss training sessions
Supports the goals of each training session
Optimally fuels your key training sessions so that training quality is high and you maximise fitness gains
Supports “metabolic flexibility”
Builds towards your event day nutrition plan so you know that your event day plan is going to work perfectly.
Optimise recovery so you are not a zombie and you have energy for the rest of your day.
This background endurance nutrition information is covered in my comprehensive "Nutrition 101" document and can be downloaded for free here.
Wellington Marathon Event Day Nutrition
7:30am (you must be there 45 minutes prior though)
Nutrition Consideration: You should have your pre-event meal 2 hours prior to the start time, so at 5:30am.
This should be something that you are familiar with and know you tolerate. I recommend practising several training sessions on this schedule, i.e eating the meal you plan on having on event day at 5:30am, and starting your training session at 7:30am.
Traditional sports nutrition guidelines suggest a meal high in carbs, low in protein and fat, such as cereal, however the most important thing is that you like it and feel comfortable with consuming it prior to exercise.
Number of aid stations: 10
Location of aid stations: Every 4-5km.
Aid station fluid: TBC
Aid station fuel: None provided.
Special Drinks: A personal drinks service will be available for Full Marathon entrants only whereby personal drinks/gels etc can be taken to the Shelly Bay aid station (pass 4 x), or Scorching Bay aid station (pass 2 x). Personal drinks must be dropped to the Pavilion Bar inside Westpac Stadium no later than 7:00am on race day, clearly marked with Name, Race Number and which Drink Station.
Further notes: Aid station fluid will be in cups on the side of the road. Each cup typically contains about 150mls of fluid.
What all this means: You can get up to 10 x 150mls of fluid from all the aid stations, which is 1500mls. You should have a good idea of how much you drink per hour from training. Multiply this by your goal time for your total fluid requirements.
Your total fluid requirements minus what you can get from aid stations (1500mls) is what you need to carry with you. You can further lighten the load by arranging for a personal bottle to be left at either Shelly Bay or Scorching Bay aid stations through the special bottle service.
I recommend drinking the sports drink at the aid stations, you can always top up with extra water if you are thirsty, and the sports drink provides valuable carbohydrates. 1500mls of a typical sports drink provides about 100g of carbohydrate. That is 4 gels that you don’t need to carry and eat on the run.
Speaking of gels, studies have shown that the more carbs you have, the better you will perform during exercise. This means that some of your training sessions should be fuelled by carbs, be it from gels, bars, bananas, or a mixture.
How much you have on event day should be an extension of what you have done in training. If you haven’t been having much in the way of carbs during training, event day is not the time to ramp it up and go all in. If you can build up to having 45-60g of carbs per hour, you will be doing really well and your performance will definitely benefit as a result.
There is no solid fuel provided at the aid stations, so you will need to carry your own. Remember that you get carbs from food as well as fluids.
The Wellington Marathon is being run in July, so temperatures are likely to close to ideal for marathon running. I hardly need to tell you, but it also could be cold and/or rainy, which will mean that your fluid intake can go lower. Remember if you drink less sports drink, you will get less carbs, so it can be a good idea to plan on having some water as a part of your hydration strategy, and this be the fluid that you don’t have if it’s a cold day.
For most of you, it’s game over, the moment you cross the finish line nothing else matters. However, with a little effort, you can save yourself a lot of pain over the next few days. Come and chat to me at the Trailblazer Recovery Tent and I can hook you up with good feed of protein, carbs, fluid, electrolytes, and maybe even some fruit and veg.
Well done on reading this far! Hopefully by now you will realise the importance of planning your nutrition for both training and race day, and you will formulate an individualised plan well in advance.
Because the amounts of the key nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, water, and electrolytes) vary for each individual, a personalised plan can have a huge impact on your success and enjoyment of the Wellington Marathon.
If you think that you will benefit from a personalised nutrition plan, Trailblazer Nutrition can quickly create you a comprehensive nutrition plan that is completely personalised to your training and race day needs.
Each plan comes with the Trailblazer Guarantee, and as these testimonials show, our plans are highly regarded by those who have used them in the past.
Tom is a highly qualified sports nutritionist, registered dietitian, and weekend warrior. His mix of theoretical knowledge and practical experience could be the difference you need to achieve your goals.