Marathon meals for training, pre-event and the big day
If you’re tackling any of the eight upcoming Dubai runs (see page 115 for details), training doesn’t just apply to workouts. Chances are your current diet doesn’t suit long exercise sessions, so you’ll need to adapt to one that better supports your goals, which can be a huge lifestyle change. For some people it’s about cutting out the junk and making healthier choices, while for others it may even mean eating more than you currently do. Sport nutritionist Vijay Ramburuth of Dubai’s Bespoke Nutrition explains the basic rules when it comes to making sure your body gets what it needs during training, as well as before, during and after your big race.
Training ‘Your main eating plan – and, in fact, your all-the-time plan – is a good, healthy, balanced diet. It should be low in fats, especially the saturated kinds found in butter, red meat and deep-fried foods, and include little or no processed sugar or white flour, which is found in things such as cakes, cookies, sweets and white bread. ‘You should eat generous amounts of protein (preferably ethically sourced and organic, or free-range), and this should be distributed so that you get a little in every meal or snack. Alongside that, you should eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and small amounts of pasta, bread and potatoes.’
Pre-event ‘Your pre-event fuel plan should start a day before a short event, and two days before a longer event. It’s a lot like the main eating plan, but with an added serving of high-carbohydrate foods in each meal, so you can choose from pasta, brown rice, wholegrain bread or potatoes. Before you get carried away, an extra serving doesn’t mean “as much as you can eat”. Your pre-event plan should be lower in protein in terms of the overall percentage of calories that you’re taking in, but not in actual quantity. However, make sure that your pre-event menu is full of easily digestible foods – you don’t want to carry a bowel-load of partially digested food with you on your run.’
Event fuel plan ‘You want high-carbohydrate foods here, with little protein and almost no fat. This is where your athletic energy foods – bananas, fig bars, yams, gels and sports drinks – come into play. Gel-type energy foods give you a big rush and big crash, so if you’re planning to use them, make sure you carry enough for the whole race (roughly one every 25-30 minutes), or start using them later on in the race. Whatever you opt for, make sure you test it beforehand during your training sessions.’
Post-event ‘This meal is designed to recharge you physically and psychologically. Immediately after a race or hard training session, eat or drink easily digestible carbohydrate and protein, and drinks lots of water – but sip, don’t gulp. Recovery drinks – whether they’re laboratory-based mixes or yoghurt, egg, banana or fruit juice smoothies – can really help you get back in gear for the next day, but avoid high glycemic-index foods more than 20 minutes afterwards. When you’ve warmed down, showered and changed, go for some food that you’ve been craving.’ Consultations from Dhs400. Bespoke Nutrition, Emirates Golf Club, www.mybespokenutrition.com/emirates-golf-club (052 824 2477). Other locations: Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Deira; Clinical Pathology Services, Umm Suqeim Road.
Pre-race or pre-training breakfasts • Unsweetened oatmeal (one to two servings) with yoghurt, cottage cheese, milk and fresh fruit. • Wholegrain toast with butter, one to two scrambled, poached or fried eggs with fresh fruit. • Bagel with cream cheese, bowl of cottage cheese and fresh fruit. • Muesli (not sweetened granola) with milk and fresh fruit. • Almonds, feta and olives.
Avoid before any training or race • Beef or turkey bacon or ham, sausage or other high-fat meats. • Pancakes. • Anything high in processed sugars.