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Oklahoma Sports and Fitness November/December 2013 : Page 10

Standing at the Starting Line: NUTRITION | What's In Your Food Stash? SLOAN T A YLOR, MS, CSSD, RD/LD You wake up eager and anxious on race day. Finally, the day has come. You have sacrificed many things to be here and it’s the day for which you’ve spent weeks and months training. You may even be hit with the feeling that you just want to get it over. You step up to the start line with an anxious face and a nervous stomach. You and everyone else are eager for the race to get started. Preparation, both mental and physical, is the critical component we appreciate so much when the gun goes off. But what if you forgot something? A wise marathoner will have their own arsenal of food with them. They are the ones who did not forget to prepare. Take a good look at the runners standing, praying, singing, or jumping up and down at the start line and you will notice bulging pockets, running belts, or carb gel packets that are safety-pinned to their shorts. Yes, some runners may have a fluid belt on, but they also have food with them. A novice might consider it silly. What’s the big deal? Don’t they hand out that stuff while you’re on the course? Don’t they always have water and fluid replacements? Sure, there is typically a carb gel sponsor for almost any race so you can expect free carb gel. Sure, you can grab the carb gel that’s handed out somewhere on the course. Sure, volunteers might have pretzels or fruit (at least you hope). But things can happen. The carb gel flavor can be one you just can’t stand, or one that you have never trained with, or it is not available exactly where you are when you need it. Snacks, sweet or salty, may not be available in the first place. The water stops can have fluid replacement drinks, but their purpose is to replace your electrolytes, not to provide you calories and carbs. So did you prepare? A notorious moment that a marathoner could experience and wish to avoid is the moment you “bonk.” Bonk? What kind of a word is that? The term “bonk” is a verb that means “to collide” and that infamous phrase of “I hit the wall” makes more sense. A few marathoners can tell you they have never hit the wall. Other marathoners expect it every time. It has been described as a “running through molasses” moment and it’s experienced as “my mind works but my body won’t respond.” This is the moment that you feel your body has betrayed you even though you trained. Preparation for your next marathon includes not only the mileage you put in during training but also your forethought for the actual race day. Many runners plan what shirt and shorts they intend to wear but may not have planned any food to carry. Carbohydrate-based foods or supplements are often the item of choice and are intended to replenish your blood glucose levels. In other words, they provide carbs to your starving muscles. Many supplements include protein and together with carbs are beneficial. Then there are those that include sodium, chloride, potassium, and caffeine mixed with carbs such as the famous electrolyte jelly bean. For those of you suffering from electrolyte-related cramping then there are home remedies that you could consider. One good friend crossed the finish line at the Williams Route 66 Marathon and promptly began to empty his pockets. What he pulled out would remind anyone of a small convenience store! He may not have consumed all of his food stash, but the point is that he was entirely prepared. Are you? Here are a few nutritional suggestions to consider. They are not foolproof and they are not guaranteed for every individual who wants to run long distance. The most important consideration is to learn if you can tolerate these items. Food allergies or sensitivities may prohibit use of some of these items. Experiment now before race day to determine what works best for you. Find at least two things that you like, if not three, and then plan to carry them with you on race day. 1. Carbohydrate gels. Taste test a flavor type that most appeals to you. For example, pick the strawberry flavor from two or three different brands. These can be purchased in many flavor choices at your local running store (support them please!) or they can be found in limited flavors at the large, national sports stores. Determine the one you like best and then plan to use it during the next long run. Don’t make the mistake of opening a gel if you don’t have a fluid to consume with it. Some runners want just an ounce of water while others may drink four to six ounces. It is not uncommon that runners use two or more gels during the race. Do not be concerned if you are part of the minority that cannot tolerate them. There are other suggestions to pick from. 2 . Honey Stinger waffle products. Have you tried these? The taste fantastic and you should consider trying them out before race day. Flavors are honey, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and lemon. They are a natural fit. 10 NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2013

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