Ingrid would like to obtain some advice regarding taking salt tablets before or during the marathon.
Lovely to hear from you and an interesting question. I have never tried salt tablets. I don't believe you need additional salt unless you have seen a dietician and have a nutritional deficiency with symptoms of regular muscle cramps during longer runs. If you are experiencing cramping, it may not be related to salt, it may be an issue in your preparation which we’d need to explore via a few more emails!
One thing I like to do is to drink a sachet of Gastrolyte morning and night during the carbohydrate loading few days prior to the marathon. This will give you extra sodium and electrolytes to ensure you are well hydrated, provided of course that you are hydrating normally aswell.
Gastrolyte and Hydrolyte are available at any pharmacy. They come in many different flavours. You can either take it as prescribed or if you purchase the natural flavour you can add it to your Gatorade.
In the marathon I drink Gatorade Endurance, which has higher sodium content than regular Gatorade. You can also choose Energy Gels during the marathon, which have higher sodium content. I use Powerbar Green Apple. I’ve always used the same products in the marathon.
Whatever you choose, make sure you try them quite a few times before the marathon to make sure they don’t have any ill effects on your tummy.
Doug is about to embark on his first marathon and would like some advice on taking energy Gels.
Great question. Gels are a wonderful invention. In the years gone by I heard that runners used to mix up special drinks for the marathon which included orange juice (now that would cause some stomach issues!!).
It is really a case of trying these gels out on your run and seeing how the stomach goes. You need to try them a few times and try to eat something similar the morning of your long run to what you would eat on race day, just to be sure you are not introducing different factors in your trial. Having said that, a lot of people train using Gels all the time. I don’t and don’t recommend it as you need to train your body to be more fuel efficient, so topping it up all the time will hinder that process.
So my advice is, for the marathon you are about to run, find out what drink is available on the stations. Pick a 2 or 3 of your longer training runs, say a 30km run and during the runs try out some of the sports drink and a gel. Say at 10km have some of the Sports Drink and at 20km a Gel. Then see how the stomach reacts.
I have been using PowerBar Gels, Green Apple Flavour with the extra Caffeine as they also have a decent sodium content. But there’s a few others, such as GU Roctane that you may want to try and many different flavours. The art is to not get too much sticky stuff on yourself during the consumption!!
Note. Water is not enough for the 42.2km journey. Take the Gels with water, not sports drink. 2 Gels in the marathon is sufficient if you are then consuming sports drink at least 3 times in the race.
Vicky is preparing for the Auckland Marathon in October. She has a good training program from a friend who has ran marathons around the world and has some questions around carbo loading.
I’ve decided to go with a different blog topic this month, so I’ll answer your questions via the FAQ approach.
In regard to a website the best means is product labeling in conjunction with say a web site such as; http://www.thecaloriecounter.com
Don’t get to hung up on counting every calorie. Just focus on eating regular portions of carbohydrates often and make your portions a bit bigger than usual.
My coach usually says that we often don’t eat enough carbohydrate in the loading phase as opposed to too much.
During the carbohydrate loading phase opt for low GI foods, particularly early on. If you eat a low GI food such as multigrain bread and you have a few jelly beans which are high GI that is fine too, but save the low GI foods for the day before the race. As long as you don’t spend time eating loads of high GI foods you will be fine.
On race morning, I stick to toast and jam or honey and a black coffee. I also like to use half strength gatrodate and either powerbar or gu energy gels with a higher sodium content in the race. Don’t over do it though. A lot of people go a bit crazy having a gel every 5k, this could cause stomach upset and is unnecessary. Mix your approach each drink station, take some sports drink at one, then a gel and water at the next, etc. It will also break the monotony.
Hope this helps.