You are here

Mon, 03/26/2012

About The Benefits To Train For A Half Marathon - part 5

So, by today next week everything is over. The Berlin half-marathon will be run by then and I will know whether I have reached my goals. But now it is still almost one week to go. Now it gets serious. And I have to think about the last things to do. First what to eat in the next days and in the hours before the competition and of course about the last trainings. The last consideration is the easiest. Last year I run about 16 kilometers on the Monday and the Wednesday before the actual half-marathon. Since my experiences with this were good so I will do it again this way. Then I will rest for the last days only doing some fitness exercises each day.

But what about my diet? Unfortunately I lost the article I read last year and which suggestions I followed. But there are plenty of tips on the web about which diet is the best. First rule I learned is not to experiment just before a competition. Because your digestive system does not like to adapt  to new things when under stress. Secondly I learned that our system is prepared for runs of lengths of about 21 kilometers. That means that you do not need a special diet when you already eat healthy food like all sorts of corn, vegetables, dairy products, fish and not too much meat.

For a daily run it is enough to just observe to eat healthy, having the last meal at least two hours before you run and while running find a balance between overcoming and pushing your limits but not overdo it so that you hurt yourself or get too exhausted to make it home. For a competition it is slightly different. The idea of taking part in a competition is to cross the finishing line in a time one finds acceptable for oneself or to cross the line at all. When running just for the exercise you only can decide to end it earlier and do a little bit more the next day without feeling bad. But that is not the idea in a competition.

Since training is the essential trick to make it over the 21 kilometers, nevertheless, one can help the body achieving this goal better with the right nutrition. So what does it need then? For a good physical performance and good health a special diet is unnecessary as pointed out earlier, given the fact that you already select healthy food consciously. In general your diet should be wholesome, varied, low-fat and mostly vegetarian with a high carbohydrate content. It should consist of 55 to 60 percent of carbohydrates, 25 to 30 percent of fat and 15 percent of protein. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as cereals, potatoes and legumes also provide dietary fiber, vegetable protein, vitamins and minerals. The increased demand for minerals and trace elements can be covered by a greater exercise-induced intake of calories. This happens by itself, simply because you eat more, while training hard.

Shortly before the marathon, you should replenish your glycogen stores with a little trick to take as much fuel for your muscles as possible. At first you empty your glycogen stores by an exhaustive exercise three to four days before the race. Then you eat carbohydrates. They are especially in pasta, rice, potatoes and whole grain bread. By over-compensating your body then stores more glycogen than before.

This glycogen will feed your muscles during the half-marathon. But even before the half-marathon you should eat. Do not take part in it without having eaten something light as cereals three hours or if the run is in the morning the evening before. Just before the start you can have a banana. Before I left the house last year to cycle on my bike to the starting line I drank some carbo mineral sports nutrition drink and liquid magnesium with vitamin B6. That was around one hour before the start.

Start drinking early but not too much. That is not good for the stomach and it forces you all the time to go to the rest rooms. While running use all opportunities to drink water or tea which is offered along the course. During training I never drink but during the half-marathon I did all the time. It is a bit difficult to do so while still running, but you can train it too before. I found out that it is a good idea to drink the sugared tea. It gave me some energy. On kilometer 17 my family awaited me and handed me some energy extract which you suck out of the bag and which goes directly in your blood giving you new energy. I did not eat during the competiton. It is not necessary. Later this week I will post an article on our Facebookpage in which just this question is discussed. So look out for it.

Well that basically is it. And do not be afraid you will not succeed. It is much easier as expected. All the other runners virtually pull you with them. There is always someone you can use as pacemaker. Just stick behind him for a while and then look for another one who might be a bit faster. There are people along the course who cheer and play music. That gives you energy. It is okay to sprint sometimes, but not too often. Of course the last couple of kilometers are hard. But somewhere between kilometer 19 and the finishing line your energy level suddenly rises and you try to take over as much people as possible. And when you cross the finishing line you will feel like you could run forever. There is no better reward than making it. All the people congratulating you and being envious that you did it – no matter what time you needed for it – is just the icing on the cake.

So, just do it, because you can and next year we will run the Berlin half-marathon together.