Race ready

Race ready

On your mark Here’s a run through for first-time marathoners as Divya K P offers tips on avoiding hurdles


Your first run is always an exciting and challenging experience. Be it a 5k or a marathon, all the efforts you put into training can go waste without the right nutrition plan. Nutrition is as important during the training stage as it is on the day of the competition. The correct diet requires an equal amount of planning and dedication along with working it around the training schedules. Healthy nutrition habits will help you train effectively and continuously, maximising your performance and building on consistent recovery and repair processes. However, you must remember that there is no ‘one size fits all’ recommendation. It is important to read your body’s signs and note how your body responds to certain foods. Here are a few key pointers to keep in mind while training and preparing for a competition:

Eat real food

Though convenient foods are easily available, we must add nutrition to our diet by the way of wholesome foods such as fish, chicken, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy and fruit. Choose foods with more nutritional value over highly processed foods. Natural foods help to have more control over sodium, fat and calorie intake.


A runner’s plate

A runner’s plate should essentially consist of 55-65% carbohydrates (fruits, whole-grain bread, pasta and vegetables), 20-35% of unsaturated fats (olive oil, walnuts and avocados) and 10-35% of lean protein (chicken, tofu, nuts, seeds, eggs).

Carbohydrates fuel workout and help to refuel tired muscles. They are the backbone of a runner’s diet. Some of the good sources of carbohydrates are whole grains and fruits and vegetables have greater value over others. Always remember that lesser the processing, the more nutritious it would be.

Loading up on carbohydrates requires you to tilt your total calories towards carbohydrates (about 60-65%) when your event is nearing. This is usually done along with tapering of exercise intensity. This will effectively increase your glycogen without any undue side effects.


Fats prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping. They keep you energised for longer hours, thereby preventing overeating later on in the day. Unsaturated fats help to reduce the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and heart diseases. A few studies also suggest that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats can help prevent weight gain too.

Maintaining a food diary helps to track nutritional habits and create more room for improvement.

Indulge occasionally

Occasionally consuming desserts or a cocktail to bring down your cravings will help to stop the urge of binging. However, it is important to keep an eye on the portion size and control the frequency of indulgences.

Drink judiciously

Fluid is an essential part of the fuelling plan. It is important to stay hydrated to boost performance and minimise gastrointestinal distress. Also, it is crucial to watch calories as drinks high in sugar can contribute to weight gain. You can limit the consumption of fruit juices and soft drinks.

No compromises on sleep

People who compromise on sleep tend to eat more snacks and gain more weight than those who prefer to sleep timely. If the quality of sleep is compromised upon, your energy levels, immune system and specifically mood, suffer. By sleeping earlier at night, you can run more energetically and improve training efficiency.

So put on your running shoes and get set to start the training, Marathon season is not far!

(The author is consultant nutritionist, Fast&Up)